By Ariel Graham
The Texas Musicians’ Museum in downtown Irving is being forced to close its doors.
The museum first opened in Irving on July 24, 2015, and would have celebrated its third year in business this July. But the City of Irving has declared the property to be in default on its rent payment and has ordered the museum to be vacated by May 17. The city issued the following statement on the matter:
“The City of Irving’s lease with Texas Musicians Museum requires the TMM to make monthly rental payments. The city has not received any payments in Lease Year 3, which began August 2017. The nonpayment of rent by TMM constitutes an event of default pursuant to the Lease. Therefore, the city is requiring TMM management to vacate the city-owned premises no later than May 17, 2018.”
But Thomas Kreason, the director and co-founder of the Texas Musicians Museum, tells a very different story.
“The biggest issue we have is the city is trying to portray us as kind of like a deadbeat tenant,” Kreason said. “They courted us a long time ago, and part of the deal we made with them was to host events to get rent credits. We’ve hosted events they’ve credited us for, and now they’re saying we didn’t qualify.
“What really was disappointing to us was it took them almost four months to say that they didn’t qualify. By that time, we were quite a bit behind, so even if we wanted to try and pay rent, they put us in a big hole. We then sent them a response letter, saying ‘Hey, we really need to go over this. There’s got to be some kind of misunderstanding. We’d really like to talk to you.’ We responded with that letter in December, and got no response from them whatsoever.”
Kreason added the city’s apparent lack of communication only made things worse for the museum.
“Later on at the beginning of the year, sometime around January or February, they sent us another letter saying we were in default,” Kreason said. “We reached out to them again, saying ‘We really don’t feel that’s the way the contract reads. We’d like to sit down and talk to you and try to make this work out,’ and still no response at all. Finally, a former city council member pressed them and asked if they were going to respond to us. Their response was to give us a notice to vacate. They have not wanted to talk to us, discuss with us, or try to work anything out.”
Kreason said the entire ordeal has been heartbreaking for not only him and his staff, but for everyone who supported the Texas Musician Museum.
“It’s very disheartening to us, because we’ve put a lot of effort and money into this whole project, and for them to just throw it all away [is upsetting],” Kreason said. “We thought we had a very cooperative relationship when we started this. But it seems we don’t.”
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the Texas Musician Museum is going away for good. Kreason said the museum has already received several offers from cities all over DFW to relocate.
“There is a silver lining to this cloud,” Kreason said. “We have been contacted by all sorts of other cities and developers who want us to be part of their downtown or development. We’ve had at least a dozen offers from a whole bunch of places. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise, and we can move on to something bigger and better where somebody will actually appreciate what we’re doing and appreciate all the people we brought in from not only all over Texas and the United States, but from all over the world.”
Although the museum has numerous options, Kreason has not given any indication as to where the museum will go next. However, he will be taking a very close look at every offer that comes across, so as to avoid being rushed into another contract.
“We want to get into a place that wants us and that the deal is a good deal, unlike the city who rushed us to sign our contract,” Kreason said. “Irving rushed us to sign the contract within three days of receiving it. We didn’t get to go over it, and if you read the contract, you can see it’s very, very ambiguous. They breeched it numerous times. For instance, we’re supposed to have a canopy over out Music Garden Center, and they didn’t do it. They were supposed to promote us on the city website; we were never put on the website. The list goes on and on. We’re trying to make sure we don’t have that same problem again.”
The Texas Musicians Museum has also started a GoFundMe page called “Texas Music Angels” to cover additional expenses the museum may be incurring, such as moving expenses and possible legal fees. Kreason said, as painful as the situation has been, it has also shown him how many people still care about the museum.
“We have the most wonderful people who stepped up and volunteered to help us,” Kreason said. “We have so many wonderful supporters. We have people who have given us so much love. It’s made it a lot less difficult for us, as heartbreaking as this has been. We found out we have a solid support system of people who appreciate what we’re doing, love what we’re doing, and they will be there for us to help in any way they can.”