Mansfield’s New Cultural Arts Director Has a Passion to Spread the Arts
Mar 24, 2017 12:51PM
● By Melanie Heisinger
Work of Art
Mansfield is getting cultured. Just last March the city initiated the Mansfield Commission for the Arts with an eye towards developing cultural tourism as well as building a more thriving creative community. The commission’s long-term vision is to build Mansfield into a regional hub for cultural arts tourism and activities. But the city realized it needed someone to spearhead the efforts and, in December, hired 30-year-old Rosie Gilbert to be Mansfield’s very first cultural arts coordinator.
Gilbert brings a youthfulness and passion to the job. The lifelong musician is an accomplished harp player who has been playing the instrument since she was 8. She studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and got her Master of Music degree at the University of Colorado. It was when she was finishing up grad school in Boulder that she says she first got involved in arts entrepreneurship and the business and administration of music. She then lived for 5 years in Wisconsin.
“It was in Wisconsin where I really began to get engaged in music administration and teaching in addition to performing,” she says. She has worked with schools, libraries, retirement homes and other community organizations to create educational music programming. She also has experience in fundraising and coordinating various arts group endeavors.
When her husband took a job with the Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD, the couple packed up for Texas and arrived last summer. Not long after she came across the job description for her current position and thought, “This job was made for me.” Many of her duties as the Mansfield cultural arts coordinator are a natural for her because they are similar to things she’s done in the past.
“Diving into a new role and finding a way to work with a community to build arts programming from the ground up is what I have done in every job I’ve held,” she says. “Being comfortable doing a variety of tasks for arts administration – marketing, fundraising, recruiting, outreach, policy making – are all things I’ve done my whole career.” The job seemed so perfect she says she couldn’t resist.
As the cultural arts coordinator and city staff liaison for the Commission for the Arts, Gilbert makes sure arts commission day-to-day operations run smoothly. Right now she says that means overseeing the design of a website, working to create policies around use of the Farr Best theater, working with contractors to do some aesthetic updates in the Farr Best, helping members of the arts commission plan several arts events and meeting with various organizations throughout the city to learn about how the Commission for the Arts can best serve Mansfield.
Only on the job since last December, Gilbert says, “The Mansfield Commission for the Arts and I are tasked with building cultural tourism and a creative economy in Mansfield. Some of the main goals are to help the city and local arts organizations utilize hotel/motel tax funds to promote cultural tourism, work with downtown organizations, artists and new businesses to create a vibrant downtown that could become a designated cultural district and be a resource for area artists and residents to connect them with arts opportunities.”
Beyond the current projects, Gilbert says she would like to help build a strong foundation for the Mansfield Commission for the Arts so that it can be vibrant and sustainable in the future and be of the most service to the Mansfield community now and for years to come.
“This means building a dedicated volunteer group, getting some communication and promotion tools like a website and social media pages in place, starting to build fundraising platforms, creating policies for grant/fund disbursement, being an organization that others can trust and rely on, and creating a few great arts events in Mansfield.”
The Mansfield Commission for the Arts is off to a strong start. The board is a small but dedicated group that has laid a lot of the critical groundwork. Prior to Gilbert’s hire they defined their mission and vision, completed the application process to become a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and applied to the city and received funding to promote and create arts events in Mansfield during the current fiscal year. “I am really excited to work with this board,” says Gilbert. “Each member is a wonderful resource for me and the community. They have worked hard to create momentum for the arts in Mansfield, and I am delighted to assist them in their endeavors.”
Sounds like Mansfield has the right person leading the initiative.
Q&A with Rosie Gilbert, Mansfield’s Cultural Arts Coordinator
What do you like most about the community of Mansfield? I’m still learning about Mansfield because I just moved to Texas in late July and live in Bedford. So far, everyone has been very welcoming. My colleagues in the city and the arts commission board members are wonderful. I like the green spaces that have been set aside in Mansfield and I love that the city is supporting the arts. All of the development and change is very exciting.
How do you spend your free time? Hobbies? Interests? Playing my harp, salsa dancing, reading, cooking, playing games and watching movies. I love to garden but I’m in an apartment right now, so I don’t have much opportunity to do it at the moment. I like going to museums and travelling.
Where do you like to eat in Mansfield? I’ve only eaten at a few places in Mansfield so far; Mellow Mushroom, El Primo’s and Fish City Grill. I enjoyed them all.
Do you go see movies? Which ones? Museums? Theater? I love going to the movies, especially on discount Tuesdays. Most recently I saw “Hidden Figures.” I grew up in the Washington, DC area, so I went to the various museums that are part of the Smithsonian as a kid, and I’m completely spoiled by them because they are fabulous, free museums. I still go back to the Smithsonian when I visit family in DC. I’ve been to the Dallas Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden and the Sixth Floor Museum since moving to Texas. I like the theater, and all sorts of performing arts. Since moving to Texas I’ve been to see both the Dallas and Fort Worth Symphonies, “Newsies” – the touring Broadway musical and the ballet of Cinderella. I’ve got tickets for the Dallas opera in March.
What’s the last book you read? I often read two or more books at a time – usually one by myself and one with my husband. I most recently finished Secret Place by Tana French by myself. My husband is an elementary school teacher so we’re reading the Bluebonnet award winners, in Spanish whenever possible. We just finished Circus Mirandus (in Spanish) by Cassie Beasley.
Who or what inspires you? My husband who pushes me to be a better person every day. My mother who is a survivor of duodenal cancer against all the odds. Great music, literature or art. I heard the Dallas Symphony a couple weeks ago, and the opening flute solo was absolutely mesmerizing (it makes me want to practice). Gardening – there’s something about digging in the dirt and seeing things grow that keeps everything in perspective.
Do you travel? Where? Yes. We visit family in the DC area a couple times a year. My husband and I like to plan one big trip each year. This summer we’re headed to Alaska. Last winter we went on a Caribbean cruise. Before that we took a road trip from Wisconsin to Yellowstone, stopping in the Badlands and the Black Hills on our way.
Favorite drink at Starbucks? I don’t like Starbucks. I’m not a coffee drinker – don’t even like the smell.
Belong to professional/community organizations? Dallas Harp Society, American Harp Society, North Texas Suzuki Association, Suzuki Association of the Americas.