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 www.cityoftacoma.org/aep 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 nstrom-avila@cityoftacoma.org

Music and Mount Rainier’s Melting Glaciers

12 May

More than a concert:  Symphony Tacoma’s  Mountain and Sea gives artistic voice to Mount Rainier’s melting glaciers

Date: Saturday, May 13
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Pantages Theater, Tacoma
Tickets: stat at $19. Visit www.tacomasymphony.org  or call 253-591-5894

The World Premiere of a new symphonic work.  A multimedia experience featuring video, glass art and music.  A symposium exploring changes to the delicate ecosystem of the Mountain and its glaciers.  A collaboration between the Arts and the National Park Service.  A once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity for area high school students.  Symphony Tacoma’s Mountain and Sea season finale is all this and more.

Conceived by Music Director Sarah Ioannides, Mountain and Sea is a collaborative effort between Symphony Tacoma, Museum of Glass, Hilltop Artists and Mount Rainier National Park to create a cross-disciplinary multimedia artistic event culminating with the Symphony’s season finale. Commemorating the Centennial of the National Parks System, the project will engage area residents in music and glass art and raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an alarming rate.

The capstone of the project is the multimedia world premiere of Fire-Mountain, a new symphonic work by Daniel Ott, commissioned by Symphony Tacoma.  A musical portrait of natural wonders, Ott’s Fire-Mountain utilizes 155 musicians, including the 85-piece Symphony Tacoma and 70-person Symphony Tacoma Voices. The work will be accompanied by an art film produced by Derek Klein, multimedia director at the Museum of Glass.  Projected above the stage during the premiere, the film will feature images of the mountain combined with footage shot at a recent glassblowing event in the hot shop, during which Hilltop Artist students created glass art using fire and ice in response to improvisatory music by Symphony Tacoma musicians.

Also on the program will be Grieg’s Suite No. 1 from Peer Gynt, featuring “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” and Debussy’s impressionist masterpiece, La Mer.  The concert, sponsored by Boeing and underwritten by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, will take place at 7:30pm Saturday, May 13 at the Pantages Theater in Tacoma.  For tickets, visit tacomasymphony.org or call 253-591-5894.

Silent Sentinel

For the residents of Pierce County, Mount Rainier is a silent sentinel, always present on the horizon and guarding life in the South Sound area. In 2015, scientists released a sobering report warning of the rapid recession of the mountain’s glaciers—the largest on a single peak anywhere in the contiguous United States—and the ecological consequences that will soon follow.  The geography of the region, with its mountains and valleys intertwined with the many-fingered Salish Sea, is unique in the world.  Here, mountain and inland sea interact in ways not seen elsewhere.

Mountaintop Experience

On Wednesday, May 10, Sarah Ioannides will join the string orchestra students from Lincoln High School during a daylong field trip to Paradise on Mount Rainier. Symphony Tacoma has a special relationship with the Lincoln High students; string players from the Orchestra spend eight weeks during the school year embedded there as coaches and mentors.  On this day, the students will trade their instruments for snow shoes as they explore Paradise, hear presentations about the extensive glacial system, and learn from Ioannides and Ott about the creative process and how an artist responds to external events to create art.  Later in the week, the students will be guests of honor at the dress rehearsal, along with National Park Service officials.  Lincoln High School has the highest rate of poverty of any school in Pierce County.  Its thriving orchestra program, under the direction of Symphony Tacoma violinist Cynthia Iverson, is an important creative outlet and lifeline for students.

Not just a concert—an event

Prior to the concert, subscribers and donors will be invited to a fascinating Music Mixer panel discussion, held in Studio 3 at the Pantages, featuring Ioannides, Daniel Ott, climatologist Mike Warner, and Mount Rainier National Park Deputy Superintendent Tracy Swartout. The lobby will include informational displays staffed by NPS officials.  Hilltop Artist students will also be on hand with displays of their glass art from the March 16 Fire and Ice event.  The panelists will also participate in a post-concert question-and-answer session in the lobby, open to all.

“Art responds to life, and by building relationships in the community, art can serve as a catalyst for education, growth and transformation in a region,” stated Sarah Ioannides.  “Through a process of community collaboration and working in multiple mediums, this partnership seeks to produce an inspiring experience, empowering participants to undertake an active role in protecting our region.”



Mural Opportunity – Call for Artists

9 May

Spaceworks Tacoma

skybrdige 3

Spaceworks Tacoma is partnering with the Downtown Tacoma Business Improvement Area (BIA) to find an artist or artist team to beautify a downtown icon in need of a facelift!

The location is in the skybridge over Commerce Street connecting the Park Plaza North Parking Garage (923 S. Commerce) and Transit Plaza/Theater on the Square (917 Broadway).  This consists of the two interior walls, each roughly 85-feet long and 3-feet tall.

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Music and Art in Concert

26 Apr

From left to right: One of five paintings depicting the George Washington Bush party traveling to Oregon; painting by Jacob Lawrence. Image courtesy of Washington State Historical Society. Miss Everything (Unsuppressed Deliverance); painting by Amy Sherald. Frances and Burton Reifler © Amy Sherald. Treasure-trove by Kelly O’Dell and Raven Skyriver. Courtesy of the artist; photo by Kp Studios.


The ability for art and music to move its audience is powerful.  The combination of these two mediums in one setting will be an unprecedented collaboration that is not to be missed at Northwest Repertory Singer’s Celebrating the Arts in Tacoma.

What: Celebrating the Arts in Tacoma concert
Where: Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 N. Madison St., Tacoma
When: Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 7 at 3 pm. Pre-concert lectures start one hour prior to each performance.
Tickets: $15 – $18. Purchase tickets for May 6 here or for May 7 here.

Celebrating the Arts in Tacoma will be a unique musical experience. Presented in three segments, multimedia visual presentations will surround the choir.  Each section of music relates to an exhibit at three major Tacoma museums:

The Outwin 2016: American Portraiture Today

Through May 14, Tacoma Art Museum features a traveling exhibit of contemporary portraiture representing 43 artists from 20 states, including both emerging and internationally known artists.  As the choir sings about the gripping plea for peace of “I Dream a World” by André Thomas or shares the supportive camaraderie of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the strong human spirit and the stories behind these words will be strengthened by the triumphant images of art facing the audience.

Coming to Washington: George Washington Bush

This inspiring exhibit at the Washington State History Museum follows the first immigration path to the state of Washington.  This segment will focus on the importance of art and music within the hearts of the brave pioneers and the rich cultures which inhabit the state we call home. Coupled with Mack Wilberg’s “Wayfarin’ Stranger” and Marta Keen’sHomeward Bound,” these soul-stirring images portray travels through a world of woe to the bright land of promise. 

Into the Deep

Water and sea creatures beckon in this Museum of Glass exhibit.  Fifty-five pieces by nationally and internationally known artists exquisitely express the beauty of marine life in the ocean.  As the mother seal sweetly sings to her pup in Eric Whitacre’s “Seal Lullaby” and Gwyneth Walker takes the audience on a mesmerizing journey through a triad of movements in “Three Days by the Sea,” the breathtaking images from this exhibit will deepen your appreciation and awe for the similar and beautiful parallels of marine water and glass. 

The Tacoma Arts Commission is proud to support Northwest Repertory Singers and this concert through our Arts Projects funding program.

Tacoma’s next Poet Laureate is…

13 Apr

2017-2019 Tacoma Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson. Photo by Israel Perez.

The Tacoma Arts Commission has announced the selection of Kellie Richardson as Tacoma’s 2017-2019 Poet Laureate.

Over the next two years, Richardson will participate in and host public poetry readings, workshops and other community events. She will also participate in Tacoma Arts Month each October, and help produce the 2019 Tacoma Poet Laureate Ceremony to announce the next Poet Laureate.

“As Poet Laureate, my priority will be to support the creation of bold spaces that mirror our citizenry,” said Richardson. “I strongly believe in the power of storytelling as a means of healing and, ultimately, a way in which individuals and community find resolution despite trauma, and common ground among bitter rivals.”

As a wrap-up of National Poetry Month, the Tacoma Arts Commission and Tacoma’s current Poet Laureate, Cathy Nguyễn, will host Pass the Torch, a poetry and music event at which Richardson will officially be awarded the title. The free, public event will be held April 29, from 5 – 8 p.m., at the Tacoma Community College Auditorium (Building 2, accessed from South 12th Street and Whitman Street). Free parking is available in Lot G off South 12th Street.

Light refreshments are available from 5 – 6 p.m., with an opportunity for attendees to participate in a hands-on project led by artist Saiyare Refaei. Attendees can also record a poem for inclusion in the Laureate Listening Project reflecting on the personal importance of a particular place in Tacoma. Limited recording spots are available, and can be reserved through Naomi Strom-Avila at (253) 591-5191 or nstrom-avila@cityoftacoma.org.

The main program begins at 6 p.m. and will feature poets Richardson, Nguyễn, Miriam McBride, PaQ’Jon Dickerson, Marquis McCrary, Marcel Augustin, and Baiyinnah Muhammad. These poets will be joined by DJ Smokey Wonder.

The Tacoma Poet Laureate program is sponsored by Click! Cable TV. Pass the Torch is sponsored by Tacoma Community College’s Office of Student Engagement.

Another free, public event focusing on poetry in Tacoma, the Louder Than a Bomb Tacoma Teen Poetry Slam, takes place at 2 p.m. that same day at the Tacoma Community College Student Center (Building 11).

About Kellie Richardson

2017-2019 Tacoma Poet Laureate Kellie Richardson. Photo by Israel Perez.

Kellie Richardson is a writer, artist and educator born and raised in Tacoma, Wash.  Her work explores the intersection of race, class and gender with specific emphasis on themes of love, loss and longing. She employs both classical poetic forms as well as contemporary mediums such as spoken word. Her work is provocative yet accessible, powerful yet vulnerable. In addition to publishing original work, she created the blog, Brown Betty, in 2012. Brown Betty exists to provide armor and inspiration for real life; a place where commerce and community intersect to cultivate healing. The blog explores the complexities of navigating the human experience, and calls its readers to continue to be inspired to endure and overcome barriers to their happiness.

Richardson is particularly inspired and called to explore the experiences of women of color, and the intersectionality of identities. In addition to teaching courses at Pacific Lutheran University, she has provided poetry and writing workshops to students from Bryant Montessori to Tacoma Community College. She has performed pieces for the Tacoma Art Museum, The People’s Assembly, University of Washington Tacoma, Drunken Telegraph, The Tacoma Round, COLORED2017, and many others.

Richardson’s relationship with Tacoma is defined by transitions and metamorphosis as she has moved from student to professor, child to parent, and, the most critical progression, from onlooker to loving actor. She enters this process as a loving actor looking to continue to give to Tacoma through poetry and the gift of storytelling. As Poet Laureate, she will persist in her desire to ensure literary arts are both accessible to, and representative of, the diversity in Tacoma.

2017-18 Arts Anchor Fund and TAIP Recipients Announced

22 Mar

Hilltop Artists Team Production student, Dawntae, marvering hot glass. Photo courtesy of Hilltop Artists

10 Arts Organizations and 18 Artists Funded by Tacoma Arts Commission

The Tacoma Arts Commission has awarded $255,000 to 10 Tacoma-based arts organizations through its Arts Anchor Fund program, and $45,000 to 18 Tacoma artists through its Tacoma Artists Initiative Program. The Arts Anchor Fund program awards range in value from $20,000 to $33,000 each, and the Tacoma Artists Initiative Program awards are $2,500 each. Funding for both programs is for the 2017-2018 biennium.

“Tacoma’s arts community is thriving,” said Tacoma Arts Commission Chair Mike Sweney. “With these grants, we are honored to support our major arts institutions and independent artists in engaging, enlightening, and inspiring their communities as well as audiences from the Puget Sound and beyond.”

Arts Anchor Fund Program Awards

From Tacoma Opera’s production of The Magic Flute. Photo courtesy of Tacoma Opera.

The 2017-2018 Arts Anchor Fund program award recipients are: The Grand Cinema, Hilltop Artists, Museum of Glass, Northwest Sinfonietta, Symphony Tacoma, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Little Theatre, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, Tacoma Opera, and Tacoma Youth Symphony Association.

In 2016, nine of these organizations served 506,909 people, provided free admission to 130,181 people, and generated an estimated $9.67 million for the local economy.

The Tacoma Arts Commission established the Arts Anchor Fund program in 1995 to provide financial support to major local not-for-profit arts organizations that significantly improve the quality of life for Tacoma. These arts organizations serve Tacoma’s community through regularly scheduled performances, exhibits and events, and school and outreach programs.

Tacoma Artists Initiative Program Awards

The Red Chador: Threshold
public performance-installation by Anida Yoeu Ali. Photo courtesy of Anida Yoeu Ali.

The 2017-2018 Tacoma Artists Initiative Program funded artists are: Anida Yoeu Ali, Travis Barker, Priscilla Dobler, Daniel Garcia, Antonio Gomez, Mark Hoppmann, Maria Jost, Anne Lyman, Kevin Miller, Elise Richman, Mauricio Robalino, Jessica Spring, Nicholas Stokes, Kenji Stoll, Masahiro Sugano, Qin Tan, Collin Veenstra, and Ben Wildenhaus

Funded Tacoma Artists Initiative Program projects include: production and screening of a live action short film; production of two music albums paired with public performances and a workshop; writing a book-length poetry manuscript with an accompanying reading; writing and staged reading of a one-act play; music performances on a portable stage; an exploration of the intersection of music and culture, including a bilingual workshop; a multi-media performance of early music; three multimedia temporary public art installations; and the creation and exhibition of visual art including a series of handmade books, illustrations, paintings, mixed-media pieces, letterpress art, and poster art.

From DUELS, by Nick Stokes, directed by José Amador. Pictured: Daniel Christensen and Carter Rodriquez. Photo by Andrea Sassenrath.

The Tacoma Artists Initiative Program was established in 1999 to assist artists with the generation of new work, and to share their talent with the public in a free and accessible format.

The Arts Anchor Fund program and Tacoma Artists Initiative Program are two of three funding programs administered by the Tacoma Arts Commission. For a complete listing of funding programs and information about the Tacoma Arts Commission, visit cityoftacoma.org/arts.

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