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2017 National Arts Program Registration

Application Deadline

April 10, 2017


This opportunity is only available to City of Tacoma employees, retirees, volunteers or their family members.



The 11th annual National Arts Program employee art exhibit is an opportunity for City of Tacoma employees, retirees, volunteers, and their family members to showcase their creative side, receive recognition, and possibly even win some money - and it is free to participate! Submissions are accepted in youth, teen, adult amateur, adult intermediate, and adult professional classifications.


Ribbons, certificates of participation, and $2,850 in cash prizes will be awarded. We'll also be giving away one $400 Best of Show award to an adult artist and one $200 Art Education award to a youth artist.

The exhibit will be on display in the Tacoma Municipal Building and at Tacoma Public Utilities from May 1 to July 28, 2017. 

How to Register

Fill out and submit the online registration form


Email Naomi Strom-Avila or call (253) 591-5191.

2017-2019 Tacoma Poet Laureate

Call to Artists

Download the call to artists for details


Application Deadline

February 27, 2017, 11:59 PM





The Tacoma Arts Commission announces the seventh annual Tacoma Poet Laureate competition, the winner of which will be named Tacoma Poet Laureate for 2017-2019.

The Tacoma Poet Laureate will hold the title for a period of two years, from May 2017 to April 2019, and receive a stipend of $4,000. The individual will actively contribute to and advance Tacoma’s literary community in meaningful ways through readings, performances, workshops, presentations, publications and/or special projects; participate in Tacoma Arts Month each October; and help produce the 2019 Tacoma Poet Laureate ceremony to announce the next Poet Laureate. 

In keeping with the City of Tacoma’s Equity and Empowerment Initiative, the Tacoma Poet Laureate should actively strive to engage the breadth of Tacoma’s citizenry, expanding access to the literary arts to underserved/underrepresented audiences including people of different races/ethnicities, ages, sexual orientation and identity, ability, and income. 

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

Current Tacoma Poet Laureate Cathy Nguyen will curate and host a poetry event at which the winner of this year's Poet Laureate competition will be awarded. The event is will be held on Saturday, April 29, 6 PM. The event location will be announced.


  • Applicant must live in Pierce County and be actively engaged in Tacoma’s creative community. Staff will verify addresses against an official Pierce County map. 
  • Applicant must be a practicing artist, dedicated to producing poetry (in any form, genre, or style) on a regular basis. 
  • Applicant must be 18 years or older.
  • Applicant cannot be a previous Tacoma Poet Laureate title holder. 
  • Applicant cannot be a current Tacoma Arts Commission member, City Council member, City of Tacoma staff member, or Tacoma Poet Laureate selection panel member.

Selection Criteria

  • Artistic Quality (as exhibited in written and recorded work samples)
  • Demonstrated history of involvement and activity within the literary arts
  • Ability to engage the breadth of Tacoma’s citizenry in meaningful ways to further the literary arts in our community 


The artist selected as Tacoma Poet Laureate must be willing and able to:

  • Offer a minimum of two free public workshops in Tacoma each year relating to poetry (four workshops total.)
  • Actively contribute to and advance Tacoma’s literary community in meaningful ways through readings, performances, workshops, presentations, publications, special projects, etc. as negotiated with the City’s Arts Program staff.
  • Participate in Tacoma Arts Month programming each October.
  • Competently handle administrative duties including being the point of contact for all programming inquiries from the public, managing a schedule, arranging details for programs, and coordinating press releases with City’s Arts Program staff. 
  • Help produce, with the assistance of the City of Tacoma’s Arts Program, an event in Tacoma in April 2019 to announce the winner of the 2019-2021 Tacoma Poet Laureate program.

To Apply

To be considered, applicants must meet all eligibility criteria and submit the following five items via Submittable

  1. Proof of Residency
    A copy of your Washington State ID, Driver's License, or current utility bill in your name to indicate your current residency within Pierce County. 
  2. Short Responses 
    Answers to the following five questions. Limit each answer to no more than 250 words. 
    • Describe your relationship to Tacoma.  
    • What do you see is the role a Poet Laureate should play in a community?
    • How would you serve the community as Tacoma Poet Laureate?
    • Outline your proposed community engagement strategy. How will you encourage others, especially underserved/underrepresented poetry audiences, to participate in the literary arts? 
    • Briefly summarize two sample workshops or projects you think might appeal to public audiences that you would consider presenting as Tacoma Poet Laureate. 
  3. Resume
  4. References
    Names and contact information for two references who can speak to how you would serve in a public role promoting poetry.
  5. Work Samples with Descriptions 
    • Five written poetry samples of your own composition, and
    • One to two recorded poetry samples - submit URLs or digital video or audio recording samples of you reading or performing your own compositions. At least one recorded piece should be the same composition as one of the written poetry samples you are submitting. 

Tacoma Poet Laureate Background

The Tacoma Poet Laureate position was founded in 2008 by Urban Grace Church as a way of focusing attention on Tacoma’s literary talent by organizing and hosting public readings and workshops in local schools and community events. 

In 2011, upon the request of Urban Grace Church, the administration of the Poet Laureate program transitioned to the City of Tacoma’s Arts Program. Urban Grace Church is recognized as the founding partner of the program. Past poets laureate include William Kupinse; Antonio Edwards, Jr; Tammy Robacker; Josie Emmons Turner; and Lucas Smiraldo. The current poet laureate is Cathy Nguyen.  


 Application deadline  February 27, 2017, 11:59 PM
 Notification  By April 14, 2017
Tacoma Poet Laureate ceremony  April 29, 2017, 6 PM
 Term of service  May 2017 – April 2019



For questions or assistance, please email Naomi Strom-Avila or call (253) 591-5191.

Glass Artwork - Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, New Aquarium Project


$30,000, all-inclusive


March 6, 2017, 11:59 PM 


Call to Artists

Download the Call to Artists for more details.



Metro Parks Tacoma is seeking an artist or artist team to create a unique, suspended glass artwork that is inspired by jellyfish. The artwork will be permanently displayed in the Social Action Gallery of the new Pacific Seas Aquarium at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium (PDZA), scheduled to open Summer 2018. 


  • Applicant(s) must live in Washington State.
  • Applicant(s) can apply as a single artist or as an artist team.
  • Applicant(s) must be 18 years or older and not a full-time student.
  • Applicant(s) cannot be an employee, board member, or council member of Metro Parks Tacoma.
  • People who are members of historically disenfranchised racial, ethnic, cultural, and other identity groups are encouraged to apply. 

Artwork Opportunity

The selected artist or team will create a suspended artwork that references jellyfish, using glass as a primary medium. The artist will have an area of 11’ by 8.5’ space to work within. The artwork does not need to fill the entire space, but should hold the space. Once hung, the artwork must not exceed 25 pounds per square foot. The artist will be responsible for all design, fabrication, and installation of the artwork. Proposed artwork must:

  • Work with building systems and structures
  • Be inspired by jellyfish
  • Use glass as a primary medium
  • Fit within the given parameters, including weight and size limits
  • Contribute to an engaging environment in the space
  • Be installed no later than April 1, 2018

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria on which artists/artist teams will be judged:

  • Artistic quality as exemplified in past work
  • Ability to create a glass artwork that references jellyfish
  • Ability to create an artwork that is relatively durable and low-maintenance
  • Ability to think and work in a scale appropriate to the site
  • Experience working with architects, engineers, and clients
  • Ability to complete the project by April 1, 2018



 Date Description
January 23, 2017 
 Applications available 
 March 6, 2017, 11:59 PM  Deadline for submissions
 Week of April 3, 2017   Finalist selection
 Week of April 17, 2017  Finalist interviews, selection of artists/ artist teams
 April 1, 2018  Artwork installation deadline
*All dates subject to change.


Submission Process

Eligible artists and artist teams interested in this opportunity must submit the following three items via Submittable


1. Short Responses 
Responses to the following questions in 200 words or less each: 

  • Why are you interested in this project? 
  • What is your approach to creating artwork for a public space?
  • Do you typically fabricate your own work, or work with a fabricator?

2. Work Samples with Descriptions 
Provide ten digital images of past work with concise descriptions. If available, work samples should include documentation of similar past public projects. Artist teams are encouraged to submit work that was previously completed as a team. 


3. Resume & References
Three pages or less, including three professional references. Artist teams without a joint resume should submit a resume for each artist. 


Contact Rebecca Solverson, Public Art Specialist, (253) 591-5564, rebecca.solverson@cityoftacoma.org.

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Naomi Strom-Avila

(253) 591-5191