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Tacoma Creates

What is Tacoma Creates?

Tacoma Creates is a voter-approved initiative to increase access to arts, culture, heritage and/or science experiences throughout Tacoma by reducing barriers to access and expanding offerings, particularly for underserved youth. Eligible non-profit arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations will be able to apply for funding that helps them expand equitable access to public programs, increase opportunities in neighborhoods throughout Tacoma, expand educational options for youth, and build sustainability for ongoing cultural programs that provide value for residents throughout the City of Tacoma.


Proposed Tacoma Creates Advisory Board Seeking City Council Approval

The Tacoma City Council will soon be establishing a new volunteer board for the City: the Tacoma Creates Advisory Board. The intended purpose of this board is to serve as an advisory body to Tacoma Creates staff on funding programs to support public benefit in arts, culture, heritage, and science programs throughout Tacoma. The information below is pending approval from the City Council, which will tentatively occur in early December 2019. Once the Advisory Board is officially established, we will post a link to the application so that Tacoma residents can apply to be considered for appointment to the board. 


Information About the Proposed Board

The Board is tentatively set to include 12 positions: five will be community members representing each of the City Council districts; Four seats will be for individuals with professional experience related to arts, culture, heritage, or science; One seat will be for a person with professional experience in Pre-K-12 public education in Tacoma; One seat will be for a person with expertise in community engagement; and one seat will be filled by a representative from the Mayor’s Youth Commission.  


All applicants must be residents of the City of Tacoma; familiar with public programming in arts, culture, heritage, and/or science; and interested in Tacoma Creates goals regarding equity, access, and programs that provide public benefit for resident across Tacoma.


For the initial board appointments, terms will be staggered as follows: four seats will be appointed for a one-year term; four seats will be appointed to a two-year term; four seats will be appointed to a three-year term. Thereafter, all terms will be for three years. All youth seat terms are one year.


The Board advises the Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality on program outcomes and stewardship of funds. Its purpose is to guide program development and approve funding recommendations for the benefit of all residents of Tacoma. The primary responsibility of the Advisory Board is to ensure compliance to Tacoma Creates guidelines and accountability standards.


Monthly meetings are tentatively scheduled for 5:30-7:30 PM on the first Monday of each month at the Tacoma Municipal Building (747 Market St., Room 248). Regular attendance at these monthly meetings is required. Beyond monthly meetings, Advisory Board members are asked to sit on at least one funding panel each year and are expected to act as outreach ambassadors to arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations, and the general public.


All of this information is in the proposal stage. We will post updates here after City Council has formally established the Tacoma Creates Advisory Board.


For more information, contact Lisa Jaret, Tacoma Creates Program Manager, at (253) 591-5161, or LJaret@cityoftacoma.org 


Tacoma Creates Timeline

  • November 6, 2018 – Tacoma voters approved Tacoma Creates (Proposition 1)

  • April 1, 2019 – Tacoma Creates business tax begins to be collected within the city of Tacoma

  • April 17, 2019 – Tacoma Creates Pre-Application Survey is launched

  • July 1, 2019 – First quarter of Tacoma Creates taxes begins to accumulate in City of Tacoma treasury

  • July-October 2019 – Tacoma Creates launches pilot programs

  • Fall 2019 – Development of local legislation and creation of Advisory Board

  • Winter 2020 – Development of funding programs and application opportunities

Tacoma Creates is administered by the City of Tacoma's Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality.


2019 Pilot Programs 


Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO)

Tacoma Creates launched an initial pilot project to support Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) in Fall 2019. Collaborating with the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Metro Parks Tacoma, and the YMCA, Tacoma Creates is currently supporting high quality after-school programs at 17 Tacoma Public Schools (TPS) locations – 12 elementary schools and five middle schools. This work is aligned with the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative, and is poised to grow in the coming years.


Organizations that are currently providing Tacoma-Creates supported classes in Tacoma Public Schools include Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Centro Latino, FabLab Nonprofit, Museum of Glass, Symphony Tacoma, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma Arts Live, Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, and The Kareem Kandi World Orchestra.


The purpose of this program is to increase Tacoma Public Schools students’ access to arts, culture, heritage, and science programs. Interested organizations must be willing and able to work within pre-defined parameters of the schedules and requirements of the ELO programs at specific TPS locations.


Participatory Budgeting

Tacoma Creates is partnering with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s Centers for Excellence to provide community-driven, Participatory Budgeting projects in East Tacoma (98404) and South Tacoma (98409). Tacoma Creates has allocated $100,000 towards Participatory Budgeting projects in each neighborhood. East Tacoma and South Tacoma residents will have the opportunity to decide how to invest money to make a lasting change in their communities.


These neighborhoods were chosen based on the Health Department’s Communities of Focus that target ZIP codes with the highest area of need as indicated by City of Tacoma’s equity index.


If you live, work, or go to school in ZIP codes 98404 or 98409, we encourage you to take this survey.


To receive updates on the Participatory Budgeting project, join our mailing list.


Planning and Capacity Building Funding

Fifty-four eligible organizations were recently awarded Planning and Capacity Building Funding. Each organization received $10,000, which is designed to help organizations plan and prepare for Tacoma Creates-supported public programming for 2020 and beyond.


The list of awarded organizations include:


Alchemy Skateboarding LeMay - America's Car Museum Tacoma Historical Society
Asia Pacific Cultural Center

Museum of Glass

Tacoma Little Theatre
Buffalo Soldiers Museum Northwest Repertory Singers Tacoma Musical Playhouse
Centro Latino Northwest Sinfonietta Tacoma Ocean Fest
Children's Museum of Tacoma Orchestral Recital Series of Tacoma Tacoma Opera Association
Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation Permaculture Lifestyle Institute Tacoma Refugee Choir
Citizens for a Healthy Bay Puget Sound Revels Tacoma Sister Cities Council
Creative Colloquy RAIN Incubator Tacoma Tool Library
Destiny City Film Festival Rainbow Center Tacoma Urban League
Destiny City Music Collective Real Art Tacoma Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center
Elements of Education Partners Symphony Tacoma Tacoma Waterfront Association
Fab-5 Tacoma Art Museum Tacoma Youth Symphony Association
FabLab Nonprofit Tacoma Arts Live Tacoma Youth Theatre
Foss Waterway Seaport Tacoma Artwalk Ted Brown Music Outreach
Hilltop Artists Tacoma City Association of Colored Women's Club The Grand Cinema
Hilltop Urban Gardens Tacoma City Ballet The Kareem Kandi World Orchestra
Historic Tacoma Tacoma Community Boat Builders Theater District Associates, Dba First Night Tacoma
Job Carr Cabin Museum Tacoma Girls Rock Write253


Tacoma Creates Pre-Application Survey

Tacoma-based arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations that provide public programming in Tacoma are invited to complete the Tacoma Creates Pre-Application Survey. This survey is intended to help the City of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality understand the field of organizations who may be eligible to apply for Tacoma Creates funding. It will also help in planning appropriate Tacoma Creates funding programs and capacity building opportunities.


All organizations that are interested in applying for Tacoma Creates funding are required to complete this survey as a first step. Only one person per organization should complete this survey.


The survey is available at tacomaarts.submittable.com/submit.



There are currently five primary points of organizational eligibility.

  • Primary Purpose: the organization’s primary purpose must be to advance and/or preserve arts, culture, heritage and/or science.

  • Non-profit status: the organization must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, incorporated under the laws of the state of Washington and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Location: the organization’s official business address is in the City of Tacoma.

  • Program Delivery: the organization must directly provide programming or experiences to the general public in Tacoma.

  • Track Record: the organization must have a two-year track record of providing programming or experiences to the general public in Tacoma.

Excluded from eligibility is any agency of the state or any of its political subdivisions; any municipal corporation; any organization that raises funds or redistribution to multiple cultural organizations; and any radio or television broadcasting network or station, cable communications system, internet-based communications venture or service, newspaper, or magazine.


Tacoma Creates is working on some additions and refinements to these requirements that will expand the pool of eligibility.  Recommended eligibility requirements will be available here if adopted by City Council. Presentation of local legislation to City Council, including these requirements occurred on October 29 and November 5, 2019. City council approval is still pending.


How Does It Work?

On April 1, 2019, sales tax in the city of Tacoma increased by 0.1%, going from 10.1% to 10.2%. This equals one cent on every $10 spent. The tax is estimated to raise $5-6 million annually, which will directly fund Tacoma Creates. Eligible organizations will be able to apply for Tacoma Creates funding.



2019 is a ramp up year for Tacoma Creates. Additional funding opportunities will be available in 2020, and details about these programs will be posted before the end of 2019.


Benefits of Tacoma Creates

The Washington State Legislature authorized counties or cities to create Cultural Access Programs in recognition of the numerous public benefits cultural organizations provide, including:

  • Enhancing and extending arts, culture, heritage, and/or science education for Tacoma’s youth and school-age children. Cultural organizations will partner with Tacoma Public Schools and other community-based or non-profit organizations to provide both in school, after school and summer programs in every Tacoma neighborhood and offer more field trips to arts, culture, heritage, and science programs and facilities.
  • Expanding access to cultural venues and programs by economically and geographically underserved populations. Tacoma Creates support will allow organizations to expand access to free and reduced-priced admission programs, leading to increased and more equitable public participation. Everyone in Tacoma should have the opportunity to access arts, culture, heritage, and science programs and facilities, regardless of their economic means.

  • Increased services throughout our city. Tacoma Creates will support and promote cultural activities in neighborhoods that reflect our diverse cultures, lifestyles and interests, such as community festivals and street fairs, that celebrate community, provide more opportunities for creatives and cultural groups to engage, and create authentic placemaking that engages community participation.

  • Economic development. The overall economy of Tacoma will benefit given the increased economic activity generated by an enhanced arts and culture sector, greater tourism and attraction of visitors to Tacoma for cultural activities, and promotion and support for jobs in creative fields and enterprises.


An independent advisory board will be appointed by Tacoma City Council. The advisory board will help guide Tacoma Creates by advising on the guidelines and review criteria for funding programs, ensuring the fidelity of Tacoma Creates, and monitoring and evaluating program results.

Tacoma Creates will be accountable for its funding through regular reporting of expenditures and program data including measurable outcomes and records of participation. As a further accountability measure, applicants for, and recipients of, Tacoma Creates grants will be required to identify and demonstrate community benefit and efforts around equity and access.


History of Tacoma Creates

  • State Legislation

    • In 2015, the Washington State Legislature granted local governments the authority to create a Cultural Access Program in their county or city (RCW.36.160). Under such authority, revenue raised from a voter-approved sales or property tax increase, can be used to strengthen access to cultural, science, and heritage organizations and their activities, as well as enhance citizens’ participation in their cultural events and programs. Tacoma Creates is the Cultural Access Program created specifically for Tacoma. Read City of Tacoma Resolution No. 40046 and City Council Action Memorandum.

  • Tacoma Voter Approval

    • In November 2018, Tacoma voters approved Tacoma Creates by 67.2%, passing in every reporting precinct. The sales tax increase, authorized under Tacoma Creates, went into effect April 2019. The tax will expire after seven years unless renewed by Tacoma voters. 

Contact Us 

For questions or additional information, please contact Lisa Jaret, Tacoma Creates Program Manager, at LJaret@cityoftacoma.org.



Advisory Board
  • Q: Will the Advisory Board be elected or appointed?

    A: After an application and selection process, board members will be appointed by City Council. Board members will serve as volunteers.


  • Q: How do we apply to become a part of the Advisory Board?

    A: After the City Council approves the ordinance establishing the Tacoma Creates Advisory Board, which we anticipate happening by mid-November, 2019, applications will be made available to the public. Applicants will be interviewed by a sub-committee of the City Council and recommendations for appointment will be appointed by the full City Council.

Funding Eligibility

  • Q: How can organizations not primarily focused on arts, culture, heritage, and/or science (i.e. not directly eligible to receive funding) get support from Tacoma Creates to integrate the cultural sector into their events and programs?

    A: Tacoma Creates funding should increase the capacity for partnership and collaboration. Tacoma Creates expects to be a central connection point for information on both services available and community needs/desire. We are looking to “match make” organizations and locations that are seeking to integrate more arts, culture, heritage and/or science programming into their mix. If you are interested in being a venue for activities and/or partnering with eligible organizations, please email LJaret@cityoftacoma.org.

  • Q: As a for-profit business, will we be able to take advantage of the upcoming funding opportunities?

    A: Not directly. Funds must be distributed to a cultural non-profit whose primary purpose is the advancement and preservation of arts, culture, heritage, and/or science. For-profit businesses that have ideas for how that might play a partnership role in Tacoma Creates are encouraged to be in touch with us!

Tacoma Creates Updates
  • Q: How will we find out about Tacoma Creates offerings?

    A: Keep in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Q: Will there be a cap amount that large institutions can receive through this initiative?

    A: Yes. Organizations that meet all of the primary eligibility requirements will be eligible to participate in a competitive application and evaluation process for comprehen

    sive funding that supports an array of public benefit programs. We anticipate that organizations may request funds up to 15% of their annual budget, capped at $400,000. Organizations that apply in this category will demonstrate work to support sustainable implementation of increasing access, ensuring equity and inclusion, and providing youth programs and neighborh

    ood-based programs.

  • Q: Is there a mechanism that will seek out/underrepresented communities to help them receive funding?

    A: Yes, one of the goals of Tacoma Creates is to support small and emerging arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations. We intend to assist with capacity building, offer fiscal sponsorship workshops, and connect these organizations with resources within our community.

Participatory Budgeting (PB)
  • Q: What is Participatory Budgeting?

    A: “Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. PB gives ordinary people real decision-making power over real money. The process was first developed in Brazil in 1989, and there are now over 3,000 participator budgets around the world.”1 1 Greensboro PB 2017 Handbook


  • Q: How were the communities chosen for participatory budgeting?

    A: The two communities, East Tacoma (98404) and South Tacoma (98409) were chosen based on the City of Tacoma’s Equity Index, which demonstrated the largest opportunity gap, and greatest need.

Funded Organization Materials

Tacoma Creates logo (JPG)

Tacoma Creates logo (PNG)