The Heart of Art

Imagine, for a moment, a world without art — no music, cinematography, dance, opera, literature and creative expressions or abilities. Painting, drawing, photography, anime and poetry of any kind — all gone. Indeed, this world would be an extraordinarily dull place, devoid of imagination, creativity and inspiration. Simply put, without art, we would all live life without sophistication, without dreams, without depth.

Frisco Arts, a Frisco-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization understands the role that art brings to our lives. Committed to advancing the beauty of art throughout the city and beyond, Frisco Arts serves as the central creative hub of all things arts-related in Frisco and promotes quality fine arts events and diverse entertainment options accessible to all citizens. Given the charge to expand the artistic, educational and cultural opportunities in and around the city, Frisco Arts additionally raises awareness and funds for local arts organizations and distributes grants to local arts organizations while offering scholarships to students pursuing a career in the arts.

Tammy Meinershagen, the board president of the Frisco Association for the Arts (Frisco Arts) and a uniquely gifted musician and locally-known artist herself, explains, “The arts offer a powerful, unifying agent to our community. An investment in the arts is an investment in the community. Individuals from all over the country and around the world are continuing to relocate to Frisco, and in turn, they are searching for additional artistic opportunities and options. Our organization desires to offer relevant, accessible arts programming to all citizens in Frisco, partnering with as many existing groups as possible.”

Originally formed in 1996 by art advocates and business leaders, Frisco Arts lost its identity over the years, straying from its original mission and, ultimately, losing focus. With numerous art initiatives throughout Frisco, many individuals became confused about the differences between the Frisco Public Art Board and Frisco Arts, and eventually, the mission of both became blurred, creating a complicated maze of confusion and minimizing both groups.

By definition, the Frisco Public Art Board exists as a council-appointed board, managing the City of Frisco’s numerous commission public art projects, including sculptures and visual art in various community public buildings. The board makes final recommendations to City Council on all public art commissions and approves artist design proposals. Conversely, Frisco Arts is a nonprofit organization designed to support all forms of art, music, dance theater and visual arts, with the purpose of providing fine arts events and avenues for the community as a whole, while also bestowing scholarship opportunities for art students and local art organizations.

With new leadership at the helm, Frisco Arts recently moved to a new location and reinvigorated their charge to bring community focus and excitement around the arts. “Everyone knows Frisco is a sports town, offering incredible venues and fantastic teams to support, but, the arts are vitality significant and bring incredible value to this city. Art fosters inclusion and engages individuals, creating a long-lasting, economic impact for any community,” continues Ms. Meinershagen.

Indeed, one Gallup and Knight Foundation initiated a three-year study to answer the question: “What attaches people to their communities?” Researchers found that the key reasons cited by residents for loving their cities included entertainment and social offerings, how welcoming the city was and its aesthetics — in other words, the arts and culture.

“In Frisco, we are seeing a revitalization of the arts and the art community with a renewed commitment to our mission. The dynamic group of art advocates on our board bring a broad range of experience in nonprofit management, arts education, accounting, law, business and strategy creation. Our board loves Frisco and the arts, and we are all committed to helping both thrive.”

In February of this year, Frisco Arts kicked off their 20th anniversary year, complete with a private party hosted in one of the lobbies of Hall Office Park. More than 100 people and three mayors were in attendance, in addition to numerous members of City Council and other boards and commission individuals. Ms. Meinershagen unveiled a new logo and updated website, as well as their vision for the future, including the launch of Frisco Arts’ FrisGO calendar, an online community arts calendar offering a central connection place for organizations, businesses, churches and school groups. This free resource offers art enthusiasts a place to search and share about upcoming events. “The relaunch of Frisco Arts was a truly historic evening and one of the most significant gatherings of city and art leaders in almost 10 years. With our dedicated team, Frisco Arts is only continuing to build momentum to create a hub for those who share a passion for creativity, expression and collaboration to advance the arts in Frisco together,” she shares.

In 2016, Frisco Arts also significantly added to their student scholarship contributions, increasing them from just $2,000 to $40,000 a year, an 18-fold increase since 2015. Awarding three young creative individuals scholarships in partnership with the Collin College Foundation and the Frisco Education Foundation, Frisco Arts is demonstrating their strong commitment to the next generation of artistic students. One of the Frisco Arts scholarship recipients includes Matthew Tremmel from Liberty High School, who has plans to study music education at the University of Kentucky.

Beginning as a percussion student in sixth grade, Matt confirmed he wanted to make music education his career by the end of his eighth grade year. He explains, “To be perfectly honest, I had considered quitting band early on, as I found the music to be lackluster and somewhat monotonous. Then, my teacher at the time, Mr. Houte, as well as my high school director, Dr. Parks, developed me and showed me higher-level pieces. I fell deeply in love with these concepts and ideas, and it was then that I knew this is what I wanted to do.” He continues, “My passion was really never about me. My instructors have impacted me, and I want to make that same profound effect on others. Since then, I have been on the music education route and am so thankful to Frisco Arts for helping to create this reality for me.”

In addition to student scholarships, Frisco Arts is also awarding $123,000 in grants to 17 nonprofit arts organizations, provided by a percentage of Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax paid by visitors to Frisco. Selecting groups that will provide quality arts programming and increase tourism, Frisco Arts oversees the entire application process. Groups such as the Collin County Ballet Theatre, the Frisco Chorale, The Movie Institute and the Frisco Area Children’s Theater are just a few of the beneficiaries.

Building on this growing momentum, Frisco Arts is offering the inaugural Frisco Arts Walk, hosted by Hall Office Park on Saturday, October 8, 2016, from 3-8 p.m. This citywide, free event will celebrate the extensive collection of public art and allow the community to take in more than 165 sculptures and other works of both international and local art. “We are inviting families to enjoy the beautiful art, food trucks, live music performances, kids’ activities and guided tours of this fantastic display. These and other upcoming plans and events will continue to reach into the community, helping art become a part of the daily fabric of our lives,” adds Ms. Meinershagen. “The power of art lifts people up, brings them together and can revitalize a community. It just makes life better.”

For more detailed information about Frisco Arts and its ever-growing role in the community, visit friscoarts.org.

Carolyn Cameron
Carolyn Cameron is an online writer and marketer who fancies coffee, her family, random creative endeavors and finishing a home project in her off time.