Frisco looking at arts funding alternatives because of coronavirus shortfall

North Texas Performing Arts-Frisco is among the recipients of the arts grant program through the Frisco Association for the Arts. (Courtesy North Texas Performing Arts-Frisco)
North Texas Performing Arts-Frisco is among the recipients of the arts grant program through the Frisco Association for the Arts. (Courtesy North Texas Performing Arts-Frisco)

North Texas Performing Arts-Frisco is among the recipients of the arts grant program through the Frisco Association for the Arts. (Courtesy North Texas Performing Arts-Frisco)

Image description
Mayor Jeff Cheney discusses the expected shortfall from the hotel-motel tax that funds the local arts grant program during the May 5 City Council meeting. (Screenshot courtesy city of Frisco)
Image description
Frisco Arts Executive Director Tammy Meinershagen speaks to Frisco City Council during the May 5 meeting. (Screenshot courtesy city of Frisco)

Frisco City Council is in early discussions about a projected shortfall in hotel-motel tax revenues, which are used in part to fund local arts programs each year.

Revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus pandemic are still preliminary, but it’s likely the city will collect several million dollars less than budgeted, according to city staff. Those tax revenues are the source for the $175,000 annual payment to the nonprofit Frisco Association for the Arts.

The council discussed the arts association’s contract with the city during its work session May 5. Council ultimately chose to wait to take any action until its summer work session in June. At that point, city staff expect to have a better picture of Frisco’s finances due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused businesses to close and travelers to cancel hotel stays throughout March and April.

“We were looking at whether we had the funds available for that [Frisco Arts],” Mayor Jeff Cheney said at the council meeting that followed the work session.

Frisco Arts Executive Director Tammy Meinershagen asked the council during its meeting to consider funding the arts grant program at the reduced rate of $100,000 for this fiscal year only.

“It's not just $100,000 at stake,” Meinershagen said in a May 6 interview. “It's the commitment of the city to the arts that can really help keep the momentum going.”

Assistant City Manager Nell Lange said revenues for the hotel-motel fund were originally expected to be $7.4 million this fiscal year, but staff from Visit Frisco and the city now project those revenues will be $3.9 million.

“In that budget, our anticipated operational expenses are $3.6 million with $2.7 million worth of debt,” Cheney said. “So we're looking at potential expenses that we have to cover of $6.3 million with only $3.9 million in revenue.”

Cheney said the arts are important to the community and that the city plans to work with Frisco Arts “to do things differently in 2020.”

“We're looking for some creative ideas to continue to support the causes that are near and dear,” Cheney said.

Council Member Tim Nelson suggested Frisco waive facility costs for arts events or provide venues to arts groups that may not have been previously available.

“I think it's critically important that we figure out a way to fund the arts in the city,” Nelson said. “That being said, I don't want to project any kind of false hope, in that there will be money. I don't know that there will be, and based on what we're hearing from [Lange], the odds are against it. But I'm willing to keep an open mind and continue to work at this until the June work session.”

Meinershagen said arts groups would be interested in using the council chambers, Black Box Theater and Comerica Center. Cheney said Frisco is allotted a certain number of days to use the local venues owned by the city but run by private groups.

“That's something we're not likely to use this year,” the mayor said. “That could be a great opportunity to look at using one of these incredible venues for some programming that we have a contractual right to use. Celebration of the arts may look different this year, and it may be great.”

The day after the meeting, Meinershagen said she was grateful the council did not shut the door on providing funding for the arts this year. Frisco Arts uses the city funds to award grants to community nonprofit and cultural organizations.

“In the summer work session, we [will] have an opportunity to share how our arts groups are going to adjust their programming for the post COVID-19 era,” Meinershagen said. “The whole arts industry and sector has to innovate right now. It’s a very difficult time for all artists.”

Meinershagen said there were several local arts organizations in attendance at the meeting, and they were excited about the idea of using city venues since a lot of the money that the groups spend goes toward venue rentals.

“If that goes away and the city can provide the space, well, we've got the talent,” Meinershagen said. “Then it's just a matter of how do you engage the public in a safe way with the arts community again.”

She said working with the city on venues, marketing efforts and possibly city staff resources would be a “huge help” for the organization and the arts groups in Frisco.

“We thought [that] was a very creative way to solve this problem because obviously, the money is limited—there's no question about that,” Meinershagen said.

She told council members she believes the arts have helped sustain the public during the pandemic and that they “will play a major role in the resurgence” of the economy.

“Out of a crisis comes opportunity,” Meinershagen said. “And so we do have an opportunity to get very creative and to lead the arts in how to work, how to function, how to succeed after this crisis. Frisco has always been an innovative community. We're excited about the idea of how do we really lead in this endeavor.”

By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is the senior reporter for the Plano and Richardson editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.


electric grid
ERCOT board developing new emergency response measures, managing financial fallout from winter storm

An emergency meeting of an ERCOT advisory committee made up of independent advisers was convened March 5 after the resignations of several board and of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. 

Frisco ISD will continue to require staff, visitors and students in grades 3-12 to wear masks, but students in grades PK-2 will be excluded from the district's mask mandate while in classrooms. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Frisco ISD will still require masks for students in grades 3-12

Students in preschool, kindergarten, first grade or second grade are not required to wear masks in classrooms.

Cars wait their turn for a vaccine dose at the Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 2. The hub was hosted by Denton County Public Health. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Texas doctor discusses first 3 months of vaccine distribution process

Texas is in its 12th week of statewide vaccine distribution, and an expansion of eligibility for vaccination could come later this spring.

The city of Frisco’s COVID-19 vaccine site at Stonebriar Centre mall has begun pulling from the Collin County vaccine waitlist for appointments, County Administrator Bill Bilyeu told commissioners during their March 1 meeting. (Wendy Sturges/Community Impact Newspaper)
Frisco vaccine site pulling from Collin County waitlist; projects in Plano progressing and more top DFW-area news

Read the most popular news from the past week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Baylor Scott & White-Centennial is the first Frisco hospital to receive a Level II maternal care designation. (Courtesy Baylor Scott & White-Centennial)
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Centennial earns first Level III maternal care designation in Frisco

A Level III maternal care designation is the second-highest level of maternal care and reflects the hospital’s ability to provide optimal healing and treatment for critically pregnant and postpartum patients.

Construction for the new center is scheduled to begin in April. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
A new 9,800 square-foot shopping center is coming to east Frisco in December

A new retail shopping center is coming to Frisco in December, according to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and Panther Creek Village Investments LLC.

Guests can enjoy hatchet-throwing sessions in a safe, controlled environment at Stumpy's. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Indoor axe-throwing venue coming to Frisco in May

Stumpy’s Hatchet House, an indoor hatchet-throwing venue, began construction a few weeks ago and is scheduled to open in May.

Part of the Grapevine Station North development, a Texas Best Smokehouse will open in mid-March. (Courtesy Westwood Real Estate Development)
Texas Best Smokehouse coming to Grapevine; Sushi Box opens in McKinney and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

For a third consecutive semester, Texas public school districts will not be penalized financially due to declining enrollment and attendance as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, due to an extension of the hold-harmless guarantee, state leaders announced March 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas leaders ensure financial stability for public school districts through spring semester with hold-harmless extension

The guarantee also ensures that Texas school systems can retain their teachers for the 2020-21 school year for whom they originally budgeted.

Frisco ISD received word from the Texas Education Agency that it will not have to make up missed days from last month's storm. (WIlliam Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
Frisco ISD will not make up missed days from February storm, district says

Frisco ISD will not make up the missed school days from last month's storm, according to an FISD newsletter.

Cars wait their turn for a vaccine dose at the Texas Motor Speedway, on Feb. 2. The hub was hosted by Denton County Public Health. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Denton County opens vaccine signup process to school employees, childcare personnel

Denton County has opened its online COVID-19 vaccine signup tool to school and childcare employees after state and federal health departments cleared the way for this new group to receive the shots.

The restaurant's menu consists of classic Hawaiian lunches, which include a main protein, such as chicken, and rice, pineapple or macaroni salad on the side. (Courtesy Hawaiian Bros/Kathy Tran)
Hawaiian Bros to expand into Frisco, other parts of North Texas

Hawaiian Bros, a fast-casual restaurant company with locations throughout the Midwest, will open its first brick-and-mortar restaurants in Texas in 2021.