Carlos Jaime-Gonzalez is the first executive director of Transform 1012 N. Main Street. (Courtesy Transform 1012 N. Main Street | Credit Allison V. Smith)

In the latest installment of our occasional conversations with Fort Worth newsmakers, Carlos Gonzalez-Jaime spoke with arts and culture editor Marcheta Fornoff after his first week on the job as the first executive director of Transform 1012 N. Main Street, a coalition that plans to turn a former KKK auditorium into The Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. To hear the discussion, please click on the audio file attached to this article.

Fornoff: Congratulations on your new role. I’m curious if you remember how you first heard about this project. 

Gonzalez-Jaime: Well, as you know, I live in Dallas, and, of course, all of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area is important for me in the arts. I’m very involved with the arts, and so I heard about (the plan for) the KKK auditorium to be transformed into a center for the arts. But that was it, basically, before the recruiter contacted me. 

Fornoff: And what did they say to you that made you excited enough about the project that you were willing to continue with the process and then eventually take it on? 

Gonzalez-Jaime: I received an email. I was overseas traveling. I thought it was junk mail, so I thought twice before opening the email. Then when I saw the job description, I found it so interesting and wonderful. To be part of a project where you see a historical building that represents hate and violence, to transform that into a space for beauty, peace and community healing, I was like, I would love to be part of that project. It was the job description when I opened that email, that (was when) I decided that I wanted to participate.

Fornoff: Well, I think a lot of people are aware of the project because of that physical structure and the transformation that you all are planning. But I’m wondering if you might talk a little bit more about what you plan to be happening on the inside of this space with this coalition that you all have built as well as out in the community? 

Gonzalez-Jaime: Well, as I mentioned, I’m in a learning process right now. I started this position a week ago, literally. 

But within the center, which is (going to be) The Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing, we’re going to host two dance companies. It’s going to be a performing arts center, but also we’re going to have rooms to work with the community and (provide) education about equal justice, about civil rights movements, about helping the community train (for) getting jobs. There will be a space for workshops. We’re going to have rehearsal spaces. One of the organizations is LGBTQ Saves that works with underserved LGBTQ youth, so we’re going to have spaces for them for counseling. 

It’s not only about arts, but it’s also about working with the community. We’re going to have a wonderful garden, maybe a farm outside the building. We’re still refining.

Fornoff: It’s a really ambitious project, and with any ambitious project, there are some challenges. I’m curious what challenges you all are thinking about and are working to overcome. 

Gonzalez-Jaime: I think the first challenge, and I’m talking personally for me in this organization, is walking the talk. We are talking about (making) a safe space that gives people that have not had opportunities before to come and feel safe and learn and enjoy the arts. We talk about equity and we talk about human rights and we talk about peace and healing; that will be my challenge. 

If I’m talking about being fair to people, I need to be fair to the people surrounding me. I think that’s a big challenge at the beginning, and we as an organization (need to) treat people fairly and to invite all communities to feel safe in our space. This is the first part.

The second big challenge is to get the money for the building, of course. 

Fornoff: You have a background in fundraising, and so how are you going to build off of your previous work in this position, whether it’s fundraising or something else? 

Gonzalez-Jaime: I come from the corporate world. I’m an industrial engineer and I have a master’s in international management. I worked for the auto industry and the technology industry for several years. But I always supported the arts because it’s one of my passions. And then I started volunteering and being part of a board, and I knew how important raising the money (was).

It’s so important for fundraising activities, knowing your constituents and knowing who can support you (and) in what ways. I started as a volunteer or as a board member helping the development committees with that and then I specialized in that. That was when I decided to start a new chapter in my life, and I started a consulting company myself. 

One of my major projects was working for the Children’s Museum in Mexico. It’s called Papalote Museo del Niño, and it’s a wonderful museum. It’s a big museum and it received, (at the time), more than 700,000 visitors a year, and they were planning an expansion to receive more than a million visitors. They were running a capital campaign of more than $50 million, I’m talking about 2013 or 2014. I had previous experience as a fundraiser, but this was my big project. I worked with the director and with the board to design the department of development, which is super important. The responsibility of getting the money, it’s not only (on) one person. You need a full team and sometimes a third party helping you in that.

That’s part of my experience, and I’m going to apply that in this project because we’re going to need a lot of money. 

Fornoff: Do you know at this point where you’re at with that goal or what your next target is? 

Gonzalez-Jaime: The coalition and the team have done a great job in getting support from other institutions and from the government. 

We have received funding from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and we just received $3 million from the federal government. And, we applied for another $4 million, so I think we’re doing very good. 

We are in a very early stage. We have not (launched) a formal capital campaign yet, even though there is a strategy and a lot of work has been done. 

Fornoff: What is the best way for people who are interested in the project to get involved or learn more? 

Gonzalez-Jaime: Well, first of all, our website is transform1012.org. We have all the information about the project and the building. You can contact us or donate, which we really appreciate.

But there are other ways of getting involved. We need a lot of volunteers for different programs. We have an Instagram account, we have a Facebook account. If you want to hear about us or want to collaborate or get involved, you can go to our webpage or social media. 

Fornoff: Is there anything I didn’t ask you about that you want to mention or you think it’s important to know? 

Gonzalez-Jaime: I think it’s such an important project, not only for our city, North Texas or the state. This is a project of national relevance. 

After COVID and all that is happening, we all need to get together and listen to others and find ways to make a better future. A good way to make a better future is to learn from the past, and I think this project will help us to do that. Making a better future is why I fell in love the first time that I read about the project, and I invite everybody to visit our website and to go to our social media and learn more about us and get involved, because it’s a wonderful project.

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta Fornoff

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...