Now streaming – 8th episode of Tacoma’s ‘artTown’

18 Jul

Hot Shop Heroes participant Rukiya Leake in the Museum of Glass hot shop.

The City of Tacoma’s Media and Communications Office – in partnership with the Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality – has released a new episode of artTown, a cultural documentary-style TV initiative exploring Tacoma’s emergence as a major creative hub in the Pacific Northwest.

Tattoo artist Jorge Mota

In this episode:

  • Learn how the Hot Shop Heroes program at the Museum of Glass, a partnership with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, helps wounded veterans transition back into civilian life
  • Explore the history and artistry behind Fiery Jade: Cai Yan, a full-length opera production about a Chinese woman poet born in 177 AD at the war-ridden end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, with music composed by Gregory Youtz and libretto by Zhang Er
  • Jackie Fender and Joshua Swainston introduce you to Creative Colloquy, an organization that fosters the literary arts community through a literary website, an annual print review, monthly readings, and other events
  • Explore tattoo artistry in Tacoma with Jorge Mota, Catalina and Josh Felkins, and Justin Winter
  • Learn how fitness inspires creative movement as flamenco dancer Marisela Fleites-Lear discusses her relationship with the University Y Student Center
  • Visit Owen Beach with playwright Nick Stokes to learn how this park gives space for creative development

Marisela Fleites-Lear practices flamenco at the University Y Student Center

Launched in 2013, the series has earned numerous awards and features diverse perspectives on a variety of creative disciplines. Offering a more holistic look at creativity in Tacoma, artTown stretches beyond what people might traditionally think of as “creative” – such as fine art, music or dance – to spotlight other creative areas of interest that have flourished in Tacoma like fashion, innovative education practices, architecture and more.

Online viewing:
Watch “artTown” anytime at

Watch segments or the full episode anytime on the City of Tacoma’s YouTube Channel

TV Tacoma air times:
Mondays at noon
Tuesdays at 1 a.m.
Wednesdays at 8 a.m.
Thursdays at 6 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 5 p.m.
Sundays at 5 a.m.

TV Tacoma is aired on both the Click! and Comcast Cable systems. On Click!, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 within Tacoma City limits and in Pierce County, with the exception of University Place, where TV Tacoma can be found on Channel 21. On Comcast, TV Tacoma can be seen on Channel 12 within Tacoma city limits and on Channel 21 in Pierce County. TV Tacoma is not on the Comcast system in University Place, but is accessible anywhere on the Internet at

Tacoma Musical Playhouse wins big at AACTFest 2017

5 Jul The Addams Family

The Addams FamilyTacoma Musical Playhouse’s production of The Addams Family was the big winner at this year’s National AACTFest 2017.

AACT’s theater festivals are part of a multi-year process that culminates in a national festival, held in odd-numbered years. Community theaters from AACT’s 10 regions enter productions for adjudication and advancement from state to regional to national level. AACTFest is thus a celebration of theater and a learning experience for those who take part.

The Addams FamilyThe National AACTFEST 2017 festival is a major event – typically more than 600 people participate, with performances of 12 productions plus workshops and exhibitions. Awards are presented for outstanding work in performance including production, acting, directing, lighting, sound, sets, and costumes.

Tacoma Musical Playhouse took home the following awards at the AACTFest 2017 Awards Ceremony on July 1:

  • Outstanding Production – The Addams Family, Tacoma Musical Playhouse
  • Outstanding Achievement in a Leading Role: Actor – Rafe Wadleigh (Gomez Addams)
  • Outstanding Achievement in a Featured Role: Actor – Jonathan Bill (Lurch)
  • Outstanding Achievement in a Supporting Role: Actress – Savana Masako Smith (Wednesday)
  • Outstanding Achievement in Ensemble Performance
  • Outstanding Achievement in Set Design – Dennis Kurtz & Ely Mattson
  • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design – Cedric Leggin
  • Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design – Jocelyne Fowler

In addition, Tacoma Musical Playhouse brought home two additional awards at an earlier AACTFest 2017 awards ceremony:

  • The Distinguished Merit Award went to Tacoma Musical Playhouse in recognition of contributions made to promote and develop the highest standards for community theater
  • The David C. Bryant Outstanding Service Award went to Jon Douglas Rake, Managing Artistic Director of Tacoma Musical Playhouse. The award recognizes individual members of AACT for significant, valuable, and lasting service to community theater

About Tacoma Musical Playhouse
Tacoma Musical Playhouse is a non-profit arts organization, and the largest community theater in the Pacific Northwest. Tacoma Musical Playhouse was founded by Jon Douglas Rake and Jeffrey Stvrtecky in January 1994 to fulfill a need in Tacoma for a theater company that specializes in the uniquely American art form of musical theater. Tacoma Musical Playhouse has enriched people with productions like Into the Woods, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, Ragtime, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Thoroughly Modern Millie, RENT, Miss Saigon and West Side Story.

The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support Tacoma Musical Playhouse through the Arts Anchor Fund.

About AACT
AACT helps theaters thrive and provides networking resources and support for America’s theaters. AACT represents the interests of more than 7,000 theaters across the United States and its territories, as well as theater companies with the U.S. Armed Services overseas.

Nominations sought for 2017 AMOCAT Arts Awards

29 Jun AMOCAT Arts Award

AMOCAT Arts AwardThe Tacoma Arts Commission is accepting nominations for the 2017 AMOCAT Arts Awards, which recognize the people and organizations that positively impact Tacoma with their passion, innovation and commitment to the arts. Nominations will be accepted through Aug. 2, 2017.

“Our beloved city has dedicated people, organizations and patrons who invest in and help drive our community forward through the arts,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “The AMOCAT Arts Awards help recognize them for the energy and passion they have shown in support of the arts in Tacoma.”

The Tacoma Arts Commission will review all nominations and select one finalist in each award category based on the breadth and depth of the nominee’s community impact as well as the quality of the work being done by the nominee. Mayor Strickland will present the 2017 AMOCAT Arts Awards at Kaleidoscope, the Tacoma Arts Month opening party on Oct. 4, 2017.

Award Categories:

  1. Community Outreach by an Individual – Community outreach, engagement and involvement in the arts in Tacoma by an individual
  2. Community Outreach by an Organization – Community outreach, engagement and involvement in the arts in Tacoma by an organization
  3. Arts Patron – A community partner who significantly supports or contributes to the arts in Tacoma

To Make a Nomination:

Fill out the online nomination form via Submittable:

Past Award Winners:

In the category of Community Outreach by an Individual, past winners include: Lynn Di Nino, Jared Pappas-Kelley and Michael S. Lent, Laura and Matt Eklund, Lance Kagey and Tom Llewellyn, Linda Danforth, William Kupinse, Oliver Doriss, Stella Haioulani, Katy Evans, David Domkoski, Jessica Spring, Connie K. Walle, and Christopher Paul Jordan.

In the category of Community Outreach by an Organization, past winners include: Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass Education Programs, Arts Impact, Tacoma School of the Arts, Barefoot Studios, Victory Music, King’s Books, Hilltop Artists, Fab-5, D.A.S.H. Center for the Arts, The Grand Cinema, Puget Sound Book Artists, Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Tacoma Public Library, and Tacoma Youth Symphony Association.

In the category of Arts Patron, past winners include: Sound Transit Art Program, Pierce Transit, Sixth Avenue Business District, The Weekly Volcano, Hotel Murano, City Arts, Urban Grace Church, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Key Bank, Erivan and Helga Haub and family, ArtsFund, University of Washington Tacoma, and Metro Parks Tacoma.

More Information:

More information about the AMOCAT Arts Awards is available at

The Other Country – The Story of Thea & Andrew Foss

26 Jun

The Other Country is a community-based, site-specific event, placing the memorable Thea Foss story squarely in its original and authentic setting. The production will take place both inside and outside the dynamic and historic Foss Waterway Seaport, with five shows on August 10-13 (patron preview on August 10 is sold out.)  This play celebrates our diverse backgrounds, the spirit of a strong female entrepreneur, and the enduring beauty and power of Puget Sound.

Spanning from 1880-1927, The Other Country encompasses Thea’s humble beginnings in Norway, her marriage to Andrew Foss, and her family’s subsequent immigration to the United States.  Once settled in Tacoma, this practical, intelligent, and determined woman began a small Puget Sound boat business.  Due to Thea’s tenacity and business acumen, and with the help of her husband and children, this eventually became the famous Foss Maritime Company, which continues to thrive.

A diverse company has been cast of  twenty local actors and singers of multiple ages and local cultures and heritages, reflective of the “immigrants from many countries” referenced by Thea in her letters home, accompanied by 2 area musicians.  The Other Country,  produced by Nancy Bourne Haley, will be co-directed by Marilyn Bennett and Suzy Willhoft, artistic directors of the independent theatre companies Toy Boat Theatre and Found Space Productions, musically directed by Debbie Birkey and with costumes by Alex Lewington.

What: The Other Country
Where: Foss Waterway Seaport, 705 Dock Street
When: August 11 @ 7 pm, August 12 @ 2 pm & 7 pm, August 13 @ 2 pm
Tickets: $10, available online at or, if available, at the door (cash only)

To keep up to date, visit the Foss Waterway Seaport website or Facebook


The Backstory to The Other Country

First remembered as the character Annie Brennan in a series of stories in the Saturday Evening Post in the late 1920’s, Thea Foss came to America’s notice in film and TV as “Tugboat Annie” between 1930 and 1950. In 2006, local filmmakers Nancy Bourne Haley and Lucy Ostrander researched and co-produced a film, Finding Thea, about this remarkable woman and her Norway-to-the-Pacific-Northwest saga.

In 2009 the film was aired on Norwegian national television and caught the attention of playwright Kristin Lyhmann, who was inspired to write Det Andre Landet — The Other Country, a play that tells the story of Thea and Andrew Foss from the vantage point of their native Norway. In summer, 2015, the play was produced in Foss’s homeland in SE Norway outside Skiptvet. Nancy Bourne Haley and Foss’s great-granddaughter Leslie Foss Johnson traveled to view the production.

In the fall of 2015, News Tribune arts writer Rosemary Ponnekanti wrote about Bourne Haley’s film and trip to Norway, and suggested Nancy contact Marilyn Bennett and Suzy Willhoft, local theatre directors, about a possible production in Tacoma. Kari Nellie Groven, daughter of the playwright, and Janet Ruud of Tacoma, wrote an English translation of the play, from which this vignette was drawn.

The Other Country is made possible thanks to these funders and facilitators:  Foss Waterway Seaport, Pacific Lutheran University Scandinavian Cultural Center, University of Puget Sound Theatre Department, Foss Maritime Company, Florence Kilworth Foundation, Tacoma Arts Commission, Bayview Partners, Sons of Norway Foundation, University of Washington Tacoma College of Arts and Communication, Tacoma Historical Society, various Daughters of Norway lodges, and many kind individuals.

What do you have planned for October?

21 Jun

Call for Arts Activities
16th annual Tacoma Arts Month
October 1 – 31, 2017

Will you be hosting an arts event in October? Do you want to contribute to the arts programming offered in Tacoma, build community, and benefit from free publicity? Submit your arts activity for inclusion in the 2017 Tacoma Arts Month online calendar!

The Tacoma Arts Commission is seeking submissions of arts activities happening during our sixteenth annual Tacoma Arts Month this October. We are looking for a variety of activities spanning all categories of art and culture including but not limited to music, visual art, literary art, dance, theater, and film.

If you will be hosting an exhibition, performance, class, workshop, reception, lecture, tour, artists’ market, celebration, meeting, presentation, or any other programming, let us know. We will list your arts event in an interactive and searchable online calendar of events on There is no cost to you. We will be promoting the many events going on throughout the month through newspaper and magazine advertisements and articles, electronic newsletters, television ads, radio ads, and through a variety of social media outlets.

This month would not be possible without the participation of local businesses, organizations, and community members. We encourage you to participate by hosting your own arts activity or event.

The deadline for the first round of submissions is August 7, 2017. We will accept activities on a rolling basis after that but submitting your information by August 7th will ensure that your activity is included in the first round of information that will go out.

To Qualify:

Your arts activity must be located within the City of Tacoma limits and occur during the month of October.

To Participate:

Fill out the online submission form via Submittable: Please note: If you are submitting multiple events, please fill out a form for each event.

Questions? Contact Naomi Strom-Avila at 253.591.5191 or

Tacoma’s Arts & Economic Prosperity study results are in!

20 Jun

In 2016, the City of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality worked with Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, in conducting a national study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. The study, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, involved the collection and analysis of organization and audience surveys. In the City of Tacoma, 66 of the 118 eligible nonprofit arts and cultural organizations participated in this study. In addition, a total of 1,124 valid audience-intercept surveys were collected from attendees to nonprofit arts and cultural performances, events, and exhibitions during 2016.

On June 17, Americans for the Arts officially released the national and local findings of the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 study and the findings are overwhelmingly positive. The study shows that Tacoma’s non-profit arts and culture industry generates $137.2 million in total economic activity every year! This spending$74.6 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $62.6 million in event-related spending by their audiences (not including cost of event admission)—supports 3,656 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $86 million in household income to local residents, and delivers $14 million in local and state government revenue. This economic impact study sends a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the City of Tacoma’s economic well-being.

“Arts and culture are embedded in Tacoma’s identity and have elevated us on an international stage,” said Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “We are encouraged by these results, and will continue to leverage these strengths to make Tacoma an even more attractive, prosperous and vibrant destination city.”

“Tacoma’s nonprofit arts and cultural organizations are integral to our commercial ecosystem,” said Arts Administrator Amy McBride. “They directly support a wide array of occupations spanning many industries.”

Nationally, the nonprofit arts industry generates $166.3 billion of economic activity — $63.8 billion in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.5 billion in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supports 4.6 million jobs and generates $27.5 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments.

“This study demonstrates that the arts are an economic and employment powerhouse both locally and across the nation,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and chief executive officer of Americans for the Arts. “A vibrant arts and culture industry helps local businesses thrive and local communities become stronger and healthier places to live. Leaders who care about community and economic vitality can feel good about choosing to invest in the arts. Nationally as well as locally, the arts mean business.”

The City of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality is very pleased to present the full study findings to you; we hope that you will find this data to be useful in your own advocacy work. All information can be found at or you can access the findings by following the links below.

Tacoma Study Results

Click here to see a summary of the Tacoma study results (PDF)

Click here to see the full Tacoma study results (PDF)

National Study Results

Click here to see a summary of the National study results (PDF)

Click here to see the full National study results (PDF)


Galen Turner’s NEON Artscape Installation

31 May

Spaceworks Tacoma

Galen Turner NEON Artscape2017_16In preparation for Spaceworks’ 2nd annual fundraiser NEON, artist Galen Turner installed a flashy, tongue-in-cheek Artscape in one of the Woolworth Windows. He used traditional, mechanical relays to make the neon lights glow in various patterns. You can observe the relay gears animating the signs by opening and closing electrical circuits creating a dazzling, flickering artwork.

Galen also made some original signs commissioned by Spaceworks specifically for this year’s NEON fundraiser. You can have your chance at winning them in the auction on June 10th, 2017. Buy your tickets now at

The neon signs are much more impressive in person. Visit this Artscape while you can in downtown Tacoma, on Broadway and 11th street.

Check out Galen’s installation process below in photos taken by Kris Crews.

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Calling Tacoma Artists for the 2017 Tacoma Studio Tour

17 May

Katie Dean gives a printmaking demonstration during the Tacoma Studio Tour

Tacoma Studio Tour
October 14 & 15, 2017, 11 am – 5 pm


Are you a professional artist that lives in Tacoma and/or has a working studio in Tacoma? Do you want to open your studio to the public, demonstrate how you make your work, host a hands-on activity, and help raise the visibility of the arts in Tacoma? Apply to participate in our 16th annual Tacoma Studio Tour!

Visitors to Liz Pulos’ studio try a weaving project.

The Tacoma Arts Commission is seeking professional artists who are willing to open their studios to the public for the Tacoma Studio Tour, one of the features of Tacoma Arts Month this October. The emphasis of this tour is on raising visibility of the arts and providing artistic opportunities for the community to connect to the arts. We encourage artists to have work for sale. Studios will be open on Saturday, October 14th and Sunday, October 15th from 11 am to 5 pm. Artists can choose to be open on Saturday, Sunday, or both days. The Tacoma Arts Commission will produce extensive electronic publicity materials including email newsletters, blog posts, and an interactive website and map. We will also produce a printed brochure for the Tacoma Studio Tour. The studio tours are free to both the artists and visitors.

Due to very positive feedback from both visitors and artists alike, we will be bringing back the Studio Tour Passport this year. The purpose of the Passport is to encourage people to attend multiple studios and studios they’ve never been to before by incentivizing attendance. Studio Tour artists are encouraged, but not required, to donate a small art item that can be included in the prize packages.

Mark Hoppmann talks with visitors at his book arts and illustration studio.

A private entity, ART BUS, is working on plans to provide a bus tour of studio locations. Studio Tour artists will have the opportunity to opt-in to being a stop along the bus tour route for a fee. More information about this optional service will be provided to all Studio Tour artists later this summer.

Deadline for applications is Monday, June 26, 2017, 11:59 pm. Applicants will be juried in a competitive process by a sub-committee of the Tacoma Arts Commission and selected based on the quality of artwork and the overall diversity of the work presented, as well as geographic diversity of the studios.


  • You must live within the City of Tacoma limits and/or your working studio must be located within the City of Tacoma limits
  • You must provide a demonstration of your art form and/or provide a hands-on activity for attendees
  • You must actively promote the Studio Tour to your own contacts

If you would like to be a guest at another studio, the above guidelines still apply. A studio is defined as a location where artwork is created on a consistent basis.

People who are members of historically disenfranchised racial, ethnic, cultural, and other identity groups are encouraged to apply.

Visitors to Jessica Spring’s studio make a keepsake on a vintage press.

To Apply:

Eligible artists interested in this opportunity must fill out the online application form and attach the following items via Submittable

  1. Five Work Samples – Submit 5 high quality JPEG files of your past work. If selected for the tour, we will use the images in materials produced for Tacoma Arts Month. Images must be at least 300 ppi resolution. Images smaller than 600 pixels per side are not recommended
  2. Artist Resume or Bio (if you have not participated in the Studio Tour in the past 2 years)

Please note: each artist in a group studio needs to submit their own application, work samples, and resume.

Questions? Contact Naomi Strom-Avila at 253.591.5191 or

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