Tammy Meinershagen is on a mission to prove that the arts are the heart and soul of any city. Since she took the position of executive director at the Frisco Association for the Arts (aka Frisco Arts) just a year and a half ago, membership has increased 700 percent—a testament to the growing arts community in the suburb better known for its sports scene. Through new initiatives, programs and events, the mom of three is bringing art to unconventional places: businesses, sports venues, even a barn. She’s bringing people of all backgrounds together through art and creating a stronger, more inspired community.
How did you get started with Frisco Association for the Arts, and what were the initial steps you took to bring the arts to Frisco?
I moved [here] from Chicago in 2004. I’m a musician, pianist and violinist. This city looked very different in 2004. I was trying to find things to do here and had a tough time. I didn’t get involved until I met my real estate agent in 2009, Jeff Cheney, who is currently Frisco’s mayor. In 2013, I applied [to the Citizens’ Bond Committee] and [Cheney] appointed me to advocate for the arts. I was also looking for how [to] serve in the community through the arts, so I found Frisco Arts. We’ve really made some huge changes, and I think we’ve made an impact in Frisco. We’re helping to show that this city is not only a destination for sports but for the arts as well. We have done a lot of collaboration with artists coming into businesses and showcasing art [and] musicians coming into businesses and performing. We did a red carpet concert series at the Lincoln Experience Center [and] invited the DSO concertmaster. We [also] created a performing arts center in that building. We’ve [additionally] started [the] Ladies Who Launch program. I moderate a discussion between two women who are leaders in our community; one is full time in business of some kind and one is full time in the arts. I truly believe that the arts world needs a bit of a boost. If we don’t start introducing it to the kids and getting new audiences to enjoy and appreciate the arts, it will die out. We have to create unique opportunities for people to experience the arts.
You’ve already accomplished so much in the past year. What’s next? Where do you see Frisco and Frisco Arts in five years?
We’re seeing a growth in the community’s need to connect with each other. For instance, the Youth Council came together and is growing. Now we have [a] young adult sector, because they’ve graduated out of the youth council. We do need to think about what’s happening between ages 18–29. That’s a new initiative we’re working on with a girl who is interested in leading that up for us. We [also] have a SmART Men group. We had an art of cigar event where they came into the cigar shop and got to roll out their own cigars as they learned the differences [between cigars] and how to identify a fake Cuban. We’re now going to look at doing the art of soccer, the art of baseball, the art of craft beer—things like that. That will get different guys in who haven’t been exposed to the arts. Those are two [initiatives] that are just bubbling right now, but I think long term we definitely see Frisco Arts helping the community become a destination for the arts. There could be a possible cultural arts district in Frisco, [and] I would like to see Frisco Arts as an arts advocacy agency [and] model for other cities.
Have you seen Frisco Arts impact anyone personally in the past year? If so, what was its impact?
We had an event, and I was playing the violin [at] a barn, if you can believe it, [and a lady] was like, “Oh my gosh, what’s this?” Her daughter was so excited as well [and] decided she wanted to learn [how to play] right away. She took lessons [and is] now playing. She wouldn’t be playing without seeing it right in front of her—watching me play and talking to a person who is doing what she wanted to do. If you don’t have enough exposure to the arts, you don’t even think to try it.
How can the Frisco community as well as the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area become involved and help this cause?
You can go on our website and sign up for our newsletter, because it gives you a weekly update on what’s going on, for free. You can also become a member of Frisco Arts. We [call] our members arts advocates. As we grow our advocates, the voice and strength of the arts community gets bigger. Your donation helps us provide scholarships, keep our programs [and helps us with] everything that we’re working on to advance the arts.