We had the good fortune of connecting with Rosalie Gilbert and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rosalie, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
The places people want to live, work, and play have arts at the core of their community. Everyday through my work with the City of Mansfield I support, promote, and advocate for vibrant arts and cultural opportunities for Mansfield residents, artists, and arts organizations. Access to the arts, and the new ideas and shared experiences the arts create, spark collective imagination, enrich society, and create thoughtful citizens. Nationally, 7 in 10 Americans say the arts help us understand other cultures and unify us regardless of age, race, or ethnicity (statistic from Americans for the Arts). Annually, Texas spends only $0.34 per person on the arts but the arts produce an amazing return on investment generating $5.9 billion annually for the Texas economy and $350 million in sales tax revenue (statistics from 2017 National Assembly of State Arts Agencies). And, students enrolled in at least one arts class have 15% higher pass rates on standardized test, are less likely to drop out of school, and more likely to attend college immediately following high school (stats from the Texas Cultural Trust).
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I grew up in the Washington, DC area and have been lucky to live all over the country – DC, Cleveland, OH, Boulder, CO, Stevens Point, WI, and now Hurst, TX. I have always loved creative things – art projects, gardening, cooking, and music. At age 8, I started to play the harp and fell in love. Music and the harp challenges me intellectually, emotionally, and physically in a way nothing else does. So, I majored in harp performance in college. Being a freelance musician is ridiculously challenging. Not only do you have to be an expert in your craft (I was often playing my harp 6-10 hours/day), you also have to be an amazing business person. You handle your own marketing, website design, booking and contracts, customer relations…everything. And, most musicians, myself included, do a variety of things, performing, teaching, and music administration (or another part-time job) to keep themselves afloat. In Stevens Point, WI, I had the opportunity to start harp programs at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. I was also invited to step onto the board, and was eventually hired as the part-time education/outreach coordinator of the Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra with whom I performed. Through these opportunities I was able to work extensively in music administration and see the creativity it takes to build new programs from the ground up, and the variety of work arts administrators get to enjoy. I liked the behind the scenes administration work as much as the on-stage spotlight, and loved the change you could affect through administration. It was the catalyst for a career shift when I moved to Texas. Currently, I manage arts and cultural programming for the City of Mansfield, TX. This includes managing our Commission for the Arts board of directors, operations of our historic Farr Best Theater, several large arts events throughout the year, grant and scholarship programs for local creatives, and acting as a resource for all things arts in Mansfield, whether you’re a resident looking for piano lessons for your child or a visual artist looking to connect with other artists and sell your work. Over the last four years, Mansfield has gone from no dedicated arts staff or facilities to having an organized arts commission, a full -time staff member (me), and owning our historic theater. Four years ago Mansfield was allocating 5% or less of Hotel Occupancy Tax to the arts, now we allocate the full 15% allowed by law for arts programming in our City as well as funding from our general fund budget. We have three large arts events, a handful or smaller arts events, and a season of shows at our theater each year. We have an ever growing number of creatives joining our Mansfield Commission for the Arts to take part in our events and utilize the networks and resources we’ve built. There is still much work to do, but we’ve come a long way. We’re preparing for city-wide cultural arts planning that will guide us into an even more creative and exciting future with arts as a core component of our City.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
With a new baby and friends with children, I’d be showing off the best family friendly things DFW has to offer. Of course we’d spend a day in the City I know best – Mansfield. With a walk in Oliver Nature Park, if its the summer, some cool fun at Hawaiian Falls, lunch at Steven’s Garden Grill and ice cream at Hypnotic Emporium, and maybe a stop at AndiMac Candy Shack. If we’re lucky we’d catch a family friendly show at The LOT Downtown or the Farr Best Theater in the evening, and grab dinner at Big D BBQ, followed by a cupcake from Creations Baking. We’d have to stop on the way home at Pastry Paradise to get world class pastries to take home. Poured wine bar is a nice stop if you’re without the little ones. The Dallas Arboretum is one of my favorite spots whether you’re with kids or adults. Usually I pack a picnic to eat in the gardens, but a trip to the arboretum isn’t complete without a sweet treat afterward (or before) at Cheesecake Royale, Humble Pie Shop, or Hypnotic Donuts (or all of the above). If you’re looking for a date night without the kids, I love to catch a show in the arts district – the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera, Dallas Black Dance Theater or a touring production are all great options. The Fort Worth Zoo is one of the best zoos in the nation and a must see, especially with a family. If you stop at the Ol’ South Pancake House for breakfast before the zoo, and then head to Heim BBQ or the Flying Carpet on Magnolia for lunch afterward the trip is perfect. If you’ve still got energy an afternoon at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is a great addition. Date night without the kids means dinner and a stroll around Sundance Square and then a show at Jubilee theater or some improv comedy from Four Day Weekend. For some indoor fun on a rainy day, head to Grapevine Mills Mall. Round One has arcade games, bowling, karaoke, and ping pong. If that doesn’t keep you busy enough, there is always the Sealife Aquarium and Legoland to visit. On my way home (since I’m in Hurst) I’d stop in Southlake at either Sushi Zen or Dragon House restaurants for dinner. For a quieter day at home in Hurst, I might take guest to Chisholm Park for a quick walk, some fishing, or a fun playground, then get food from Cafe Medi and Sweet Basil Thai.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents, George and Alberta, who have always believed in and supported me even when I decided to major in music My husband, Oscar, who is my biggest fan Ann Huntoon, an excellent mentor and boss who encouraged me to start my arts administration career Jeanne Chalifoux and Yolanda Kondonassis, the most transformational teachers I’ve ever had
Ann Beck Tim Roberts