Frisco City Council approves $100K funding for arts grant program

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

Image description
Among the recipients of the arts grant program through the Frisco Association for the Arts is thegallery8680. (Courtesy thegallery8680)
Image description
Jennifer Wade, acting president of Frisco Arts, spoke on behalf of the organization during the July 7 Frisco City Council meeting. (Screenshot courtesy city of Frisco)
Image description
Mayor Jeff Cheney said Frisco Arts was taking on the arts grant program on a volunteer basis this year by not taking an administrative fee. (Screenshot courtesy city of Frisco)
Image description
Frisco City Council approved $100,000 in funding for the arts grant program by a vote of 4-1. (Screenshot courtesy city of Frisco)
Frisco City Council recently approved $100,000 in funding for nonprofit Frisco Association for the Arts to support local arts programs.

The arts group was originally budgeted to receive $175,000 from the city's hotel-motel fund, but city staff projected a shortfall in early May of several million dollars in its hotel-motel tax revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic. At that point, Frisco Arts Executive Director Tammy Meinershagen suggested reducing the amount to $100,000 for this fiscal year only. The arts group uses the money to award individual grants to local arts organizations.

Council decided to wait until the summer to decide on the funding in order to have a better picture of the city’s finances.

Assistant City Manager Nell Lange told council during its July 7 meeting that the $100,000 would come instead from Frisco’s public arts fund. Mayor Jeff Cheney stated Frisco Arts was also bypassing its usual administrative fee this year for overseeing the program. By not taking that fee, which is typically $20,000, he said the organization was basically taking on the program on a volunteer basis.

“We very much appreciate Frisco Arts,” Cheney said. “They administer that [grant program] for us and help us get those funds in the right people's hands to do the most good.”


Jennifer Wade, acting president of Frisco Arts, said she believes the funding will allow some of the 23 arts organizations being awarded grants this year to stage “unique and different” events.

“I've seen at least one of the theater groups is doing a combination [performance] with 10-15 people actually being in the audience, but then selling virtual tickets,” Wade said. “This funding helps make sure that these displays of arts continue, and that all these groups are supported because this is a very, very difficult time for the arts.”

Cheney said he believes it is important for residents to be able to feel a sense of normalcy during the continuing pandemic. As an example, he explained the city received a lot of positive feedback from holding its Fourth of July fireworks show despite having to cancel the Freedom Fest activities because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

“As we evaluate the needs of this community, it's obviously health and safety [priorities] first, but we're also looking at the mental aspects, social aspects [and] all those other things,” Cheney said. “We know that arts can help with all of those. ... I think that was a big part of why we felt like funding that was important.”

Meinershagen said Frisco Arts was grateful council did not completely eliminate funding this year. Still, she said the $175,000 originally earmarked for the program is “significantly lower” than the amount of hotel occupancy tax funds committed to arts programs by Frisco’s neighboring cities.

“Frisco Arts recognizes the growing need for more grant assistance to our arts organizations and artists, musicians, professionals in the arts, especially in light of the pandemic,” Meinershagen said via email. “Nothing is the same as it was, but we still believe an investment in the arts is an investment in the community. We are exploring ways to fill in the gap to keep the arts alive and thriving in Frisco and beyond.”

Council approved the funding agreement by a vote of 4-1 with Council Member Bill Woodard voting against the measure and Council Member John Keating absent from the meeting.

During discussion before the vote, Woodard said he had concerns about whether the program was a good use for the public arts funds as the city does not know the actual cost of maintaining its existing public art. The public arts fund receives its revenue through an allocation from capital improvement projects paid for by the city.

“It's not about whether or not I want to fund the arts,” Woodard said. “It's about whether or not we should or can right now, given the other budgetary problems that we have.”

During his motion to approve the agreement, Mayor Pro Tem Will Sowell added the condition that funding for future years of the arts grant program be decided as part of the city’s budget process each September.

“We are spending this year's dollars now,” Sowell said. “But in September [2020], as we're going through the budget for next [fiscal] year, we would go ahead and have the discussion about funding next year’s part [of the arts grant program].”
By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is editor of the Frisco edition 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.


MOST RECENT

mosquito
Mosquito pool near Frisco's Village Lakes neighborhood tests positive for West Nile virus

“Because we can’t treat private property, we need homeowners' help to look for standing water outside their homes,” Environmental Health Supervisor Julie Fernandez said in a statement.

The boutique-style fitness studio will offer music-driven, 50-minute workouts on custom Pilates reformers. (Courtesy BEYOND Pilates)
BEYOND Pilates to open second Frisco location this fall

The boutique-style fitness studio will offer music-driven, 50-minute workouts on custom Pilates reformers.

Construction on the first building was approved to proceed at a November meeting. (Rendering courtesy University of North Texas)
Construction on UNT at Frisco branch campus to break ground this fall

With site work expected to begin this fall, the first building will see occupancy in Jan. 2023.

Dr. Molly Lopez is the director of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health and also serves as a research associate professor at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin. (Designed by Stephanie Torres/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Mental health expert talks emotional well-being, building resiliency for the 2020-21 school year

According to Dr. Molly Lopez, director of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, the upcoming school year will serve as an opportunity for students, families, teachers and school administrators to learn skills in coping, re-evaulate mental health protocols and build resiliency in challenging times.

Jules Design Bar
TABC change opens window for some bars to qualify as restaurants under state pandemic orders

Following a new industry guideline recently distributed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, more bars across the state may soon be able to qualify as restaurants.

aerial of road
Portion of westbound Gaylord Parkway in Frisco closed for repairs

Frisco announced Aug. 13 that a portion of the far north lane of Gaylord Parkway has been closed for repairs after an unplanned pavement issue.

Sales tax revenue allocated to Frisco in August was up by nearly 10% compared with the same month a year ago, according to data released by the state. (Community Impact staff)
DATA: Frisco's latest monthly sales tax revenues up nearly 10% year-over-year

The $8.83 million sales tax allocation for Frisco was based generally on purchases in June, the Texas comptroller’s office reported Aug. 12.

The aging room is being prepared for business at the new downtown butcher shop. (Courtesy Bar-Ranch Steak Co.)
Bar-Ranch Steak Co. preps for downtown Plano opening and more DFW-area news

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

City officials and members of the community gathered to cut the ribbon on the recently renovated Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
GALLERY: Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa unveils renovations

The event also kicked off the Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa Youth Center's first day of Social Distance Learning as well as a food and school supply drive for local nonprofits, which will continue through Aug. 16.

trail sign with map
Learn more about Frisco's Taychas Trail and its future connection to Plano

Frisco will offer a preview of its connection to the Six-Cities Trail through Plano during the Roll with the Council event Aug. 15.

Between Aug. 6-12, Frisco added 154 new cases of the virus and saw 49 recoveries, according to city data. As of Aug. 12, there were 347 active cases of COVID-19 in Frisco. (Community Impact staff)
Frisco sees 154 new cases of COVID-19, 49 recoveries in the last week

As of Aug. 12, there were 347 active cases of COVID-19 in Frisco.