Meet Steve Cosio, president of Discover Historic Mansfield. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to bringing to life the area known as Historic Mansfield and producing the Historic Mansfield Music and Arts Festival. Cosio, an advertising broker was first introduced to the group five years ago by a friend who was on the board. He later took over as president and has volunteered countless hours to revitalize cultural arts and entertainment ever since.
Cosio is no stranger to spreading a message. He is a former news/talk radio host. He worked in San Diego, California for nearly 20 years where he garnered numerous awards for his on-air work. We wanted to know more about Cosio and Discover Historic Mansfield and he was kind enough to answer a few questions.
Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Discover Historic Mansfield.
Steve Cosio: Discover Historic Mansfield, Inc. (DHM) is a nonprofit organization that strives to promote, support, and encourage the revitalization and historic relevance of the area known as Historic Mansfield. For the past seven years we have produced the Historic Mansfield Music and Arts Festival. What started out as a small half-day event with just two bands on a side street blossomed into a seven day festival with 25 bands (including national touring acts on the weekend), artists, food vendors and more.
DT: What are your duties at Discover Historic Mansfield.
SC: As president of Discover Historic Mansfield, my duties are to chair our board meetings and encourage or motivate our seven board members to come up with (and implement) fresh ideas for events and/or promotions for the Historic Mansfield area.
DT: How did you become involved with Discover Historic Mansfield, and why are you so passionate about the work being done?
SC: A close friend of mine is one of the board members and, in 2009, he told me of an opening on the board. I had never served on a nonprofit board before and actually knew very little about Historic Mansfield. Two years later, the former president resigned and I was elected to fill his shoes. I'm passionate about the downtown area because it's exciting to watch a Phoenix rise from the ashes. Once we started commissioning murals on the buildings, the local merchants took notice. Many business owners repainted their storefronts or took the necessary steps to make their business shine again. Just five short years ago, there was no live music in the downtown area and no art on the streets. With our help, there are now several venues that offer live music and we have an abundance of murals on the buildings and painted pianos on the sidewalks.
DT: Why is it so important in your mind to bring theatre and the arts to the community?
SC: It all starts with the acronym "ACME," which stands for art, culture, music and entertainment. Once those elements are in place, the rest comes together. New businesses open, existing businesses expand their hours, restaurants start popping up bringing new life to the area. An arts district has to stimulate either vision and hearing, preferably both, to attract attention. As a musician, I know how important it is to be heard as well as be seen. Music spilling out onto the sidewalks invites passersby to stop and visit. The right kind of lighting has the same affect.
DT: It can be difficult for any nonprofit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
SC: DHM stays afloat because, even though we are a nonprofit, we run the organization like a business. We have a very thorough treasurer who keeps reminds us of our monthly budget that we diligently stick to. Funds are raised by individual or corporate sponsors at our events, which also helps us fund future events.
DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
SC: DHM is always in need of corporate and individual donors as well as volunteers. People who have a passion for watching (and helping) a historic downtown blossom into a thriving arts district. People who are willing to open their pocketbooks or lend a helping hand. DHM has taken on a new project as of July of this year. We are now the exclusive production and management company of the historic Farr Best Theater on Main Street in Mansfield. The Farr opened in 1917 as a silent movie theater. A stage was built many years ago and the theater has been transformed into a concert hall. DHM has renovated the hall with a fresh coat of paint inside and out, an upgraded sound system, and is now booking bigger name bands. The theater is now managed and staffed completely by volunteers and we need smiling faces to serve as ticket takers, ushers, concession help, hospitality and an active street team.
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences with Discover Historic Mansfield?
SC: I've been with this organization for six years and the memories are innumerable. Some of the most memorable moments would have to be meeting and hosting with some of best musicians that Texas has to offer -- Delbert McClinton, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe Ely, Rhett Miller, just to name a few. Backstage before their show, I taught the members of Austin's Band of Heathens how to ride a Segway, which beat the monotony of standing around waiting for the show to start. Backstage after an Old 97's concert, I introduced singer Rhett Miller to a six year old girl (and her mom) whose dad was a big fan but couldn't be at the show. Miller got down on his knees to talk with her. He easily spent five minutes with her, autographed the setlist to her, and took multiple photographs. Watching him give that much attention to that little girl was better than the show itself, which was awesome.
DT: What does the future hold for DHM?
SC: When I walk down Main Street every couple of days each week, I can't help but look around at all that we've accomplished, dream about what more we can do, and smile.
If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.