Say hello to the woman bringing the arts to life in Northeast Tarrant County and southern Denton County, Lee Koch; president of Arts Council Northeast. This journey started more than two decades ago when Koch moved to Colleyville and joined the Arts League of Northeast Tarrant County. She found her passion in promoting the arts, recently being awarded Arts League's Shining Star Award.
We wanted to get to know Koch a little better and she was gracious enough to answer questions about herself, ACN and the communities it serves.
DT: Can you tell us about Arts Council Northeast.
LK: Founded in 1975 as the Trinity Arts Foundation, Arts Council Northeast evolved from the Trinity Arts Guild. Arts Council Northeast formally received its nonprofit status in 1978, and was recognized by the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) in 1997 as the official arts council of Northeast Tarrant County. With the addition of the City of Saginaw in 2004 we are now recognized by the TCA as the arts council representing North Tarrant County and southern Denton County.
With a vision of access to the arts for all, our mission is to provide artistic, cultural and educational opportunities to improve the quality of life in our communities.
• Granting to individuals, arts organizations, non-profits, libraries, cities and schools located in North Tarrant County
• Summer Arts College – three one-week sessions located throughout North Tarrant County for students ages 6-16, exposes children to a variety of different arts disciplines through hands on experience. Each session is different. We also provide scholarships for children unable to afford the tuition as well as providing sessions at other nonprofits including GRACE (Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange) and Community Storehouse in Keller.
• MasterWorks Music program - free concerts open to the public in eight cities (Bedford, Euless, Hurst, Keller, Roanoke, Southlake, Watauga and Westlake).
• Classes & Workshop Meeting Space – Visual Art, dance, pottery, faux painting and writers group and photography group held at the Arts Council Northeast building
• The Arts League Shining Stars Luncheon to honor community volunteers at various not for profit organizations (Summer Santa, Community Enrichment Center, etc.)
• Arts & Education -- After school programs
DT: What are your duties at ACN?
LK: As president of Arts Council Northeast, I am responsible for creating community awareness of the organization, fundraising, budgeting/financial planning and board development
DT: How did you become involved with ACN, and why are you so passionate about the work being done there?
LK: I joined the Arts League (which is the fundraising arm of Arts Council Northeast) in 1993 when I moved here from The Woodlands, TX. It was a great group of ladies who are still my friends! At that time one of the fundraisers was “Texas Toast” which was sort of a “revue” of community leaders making idiots out of ourselves onstage so that was a lot of fun! Then I volunteered for Taste of Northeast which has evolved over the years to include a holiday gift market that is now held at the Hurst Conference Center. I always hoped one day to have this job and now I do! I love it!
DT: Why do you work in the nonprofit sector?
LK: In my opinion, there is a great deal of personal satisfaction in working for organizations that give back to their communities. I’ve never had a desire to work in the for profit sector.
DT: It can be difficult for any non profit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
LK: It’s important to adhere to your budget and have the right people on staff. We have a diverse base of funding including our relationship with the 16 cities we serve (Bedford, Colleyville, Euless, Grapevine, Haltom City, Haslet, Hurst, Keller, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Roanoke, Saginaw, Southlake, Trophy Club, Watauga, and Westlake), grants, memberhips and our two fundraising events Taste of Northeast in the fall (November 13, in 2014) and Triple Crown Affair at Lone Star Park in the spring (May 3, 2014)
DT: How can the people of Tarrant and Denton Counties and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
LK: They can become members of Art Council Northeast at one of the various levels from $40 to $1,000+. That information is on our website at www.artscouncilnortheast.org. There are also a couple of giving day opportunities sponsored by the Community Foundation of North Texas and attending either of our fundraising events. That information is on our website also.
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at ACN?
LK: Hard to decide – when we hear from parents who receive scholarships to our Summer Arts College you know you are making a difference in children’s lives. And when you hear from the small arts groups that we give grants to you know you are making a difference to small organizations/groups who don’t have other sources of funding and we are helping them along their way. This year we were able to award $40,000 in grants to 21 small arts groups. We wish we could help them out even more but as you know funding for the arts is always the first to be cut.
DT: What is the first thing you do when you walk into work each day?
LK: I always stop by the post office to pick up the mail on the way in and hope we have some nice checks to deposit to continue our mission – “With a vision of access to the arts for all, our mission is to provide artistic, cultural and educational opportunities to improve the quality of life in our communities.”