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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 science experiences throughout Tacoma by reducing barriers to access and expanding offerings, particularly for underserved youth. 

Tacoma Creates was established to expand equity and access to Tacoma’s arts, culture, science and heritage programs. Examples of public benefit include:

  • Increased opportunities for children and youth through before and after school, and summer programs
  • Financial and technical support for community programs, events, and activities
  • Free and reduced-price tickets, admission, and memberships to arts, culture, heritage, and science experiences, with a focus on lower income families and public school students

Tacoma Creates Expanded Learning Opportunities – January-June, 2020

Application Deadline

November 3, 2019, 11:59 PM


Request for Proposals

To see complete details about the project and related requirements, download the Request for Proposals


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 tacomaarts.submittable.com/submit.


Upcoming Events

  • Events will be listed as they are scheduled

Past Events

  • Tacoma Creates Community Conversation – Culture Focus. April 30, 2019; 5:30 – 7:30 PM; Asia Pacific Cultural Center, 4851 S. Tacoma Way
  • Tacoma Creates Community Conversation – Science Focus. April 10, 2019; 5:30 – 7:30 PM; RAIN Incubator, 2304 Jefferson Avenue; Presentation 
  • Tacoma Creates Community Conversation – Heritage Focus. March 25, 2019; 5:30 – 7:30 PM; Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue; Presentation
  • Tacoma Creates Community Conversation. January 23, 2019; 6 – 8 PM; Theater on the Square, 915 Broadway. Discussion Summary and Presentation
  • Tacoma Creates Community Conversation. May 30, 2018; 5:30 – 7:30 PM; Asia Pacific Cultural Center, 4851 South Tacoma Way. Discussion Summary   
  • Creative Community Conversation. January 24, 2018; 6 – 8 PM; SKY Creative, 1120 Pacific Avenue. Discussion Summary

How Does it Work?

Starting 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 million annually, which will directly fund Tacoma Creates. Eligible organizations will be able to apply for Tacoma Creates funding.

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


2019 is a ramp up year for Tacoma Creates. Regular funding will not be available until 2020. There are currently two proposed funding categories for 2020. Eligible organizations will be able to apply in one of two ways:

  • By organization - Organizations may apply for up to 15% of their annual budget (less any federal, state, or local government funding) per year and capped at $400,000 per year.
  • By program or project - Programs or projects may apply for a minimum of $5,000 per year and a maximum of $50,000 per year.


Eligibility for Tacoma Crates funding extends to any 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in Tacoma, whose primary purpose is the advancement or preservation of arts, culture, heritage, or science. These organizations must also have at least a two-year track record of directly providing programming or experiences in Tacoma available to the general public. Organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status, but meet other eligibility criteria, may be fiscally sponsored by eligible organizations. 

Excluded from eligibility is any agency of the state or any of its political subdivisions; any municipal corporation; any organization that raises funds for 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. 



  • 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 – December, 2019 – Ramp up year to determine community needs, develop community partnerships, training and capacity building for organizations, City Council ordinance, Tacoma Creates advisory board established

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, will go into effect April 2019. The tax will expire after seven years (2026) unless renewed by Tacoma voters.

Benefits of Tacoma Creates

The Washington State Legislature created Cultural Access Washington, the legislative authority for Tacoma Creates, in recognition of the numerous public benefits cultural organizations provide including: 

  • Enhancing and extend arts, culture, science and heritage 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, science and heritage organizations. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of an arts education towards a child’s successful emotional development and educational advancement. Tacoma Creates will build on recent successes in this regard and create greater opportunities for education attainment.
  • Expanding access to cultural venues and programs by economically and geographically underserved populations. The program will expand access for all Tacoma residents to cultural events, venues, performances, large-scale city events, exhibits and neighborhood activities. Free and reduced tickets, admissions, and memberships will be offered regardless of income and financial means, leading to greater equitable outcomes and increased public participation, so that everyone has the opportunity to access arts, culture, science and heritage programs and facilities, regardless of their economic means.
  • Increased services throughout our city. Tacoma Creates will create new and additional resources for neighborhood programs and related cultural activities, such as community festivals and street fairs. The program will promote what makes Tacoma’s neighborhoods interesting and unique places.
  • 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 to oversee Tacoma Creates, including the criteria and guidelines for funding as well as 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, based on criteria to be adopted by the City Council which will ensure benefit to all Tacoma communities.


Contact Us

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


Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Involved

  • Q: How can I help?
    A: Let us know how you’d like to help - we’d love to have you join the efforts! Send us an email at contact@tacomacreates.com. Also, see the Advisory Board section below if interested in serving on the Tacoma Creates Advisory Board.
  • Q: How can our media company assist in the effort?  Can we assist in telling the stories that need to be told? Can we create opportunities for great stories, empathy, celebration, collaboration, and engagement?
    A: The City of Tacoma is looking to develop a roster of artists and creative firms who specialize in multi-media storytelling including video and graphic design to assist in accomplishing just that. There is so much talent in Tacoma, we want to be able to access it to share the impact Tacoma Creates will have in our community. We also want to make this roster available to the public.
Program Implementation
  • Q: Are there planning focus groups?
    A: Yes! If you have an area of interest that you would like to contribute to, please let us know via an email at contact@tacomacreates.com 
  • Q: Is there a timeline for public input?
    Public input is currently ongoing. See the lUpcoming Events and Past Events sections at the top of this page for information. 
  • Q: When will applications be made available?
    A: Eligibility Applications will be available in late Spring 2019. Funding Applications will be available in 2020.
  • Q: How will we apply for funds?
    A: The application process is still in design. We anticipate a number of avenues for accessing the applications and learning about the process: information sessions, online access, individual assistance.

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, applications will be made available to the public.  Applicants will apply through the standard application process for city boards, committees and commissions. Applicants will be interviewed by a sub-committee of the City Council and recommendations for appointment will be appointed by the full City Council. Terms will be 3 years.
  • Q: When will the Advisory Board be established?
    A: After the ordinance establishing the full Tacoma Creates program. This is slated for Fall 2019.

Funding Eligibility

  • Q: We’re not a 501c3, how can we get funding? 
    A: Organizations who are not a 501(c)3 cannot be directly funded. But, groups can be fiscally sponsored by (umbrella'd under) a 501(c)3) organization, as long as the fiscal sponsor meets eligibility criteria AND both your organization and the umbrella non-profit organization have the primary purpose of the advancement and preservation of science or technology, visual or performing arts, zoology, botany, anthropology, heritage, or natural history. In addition, both organizations need a 2-year track record of providing public programming, as well as a principal location and majority of activities located within the City of Tacoma.
  • Q: How do we find an eligible fiscal sponsor?
    A: Contact us at contact@tacomacreates.com, we’re creating a list of eligible organizations willing to help out!
  • Q: Can Tacoma Creates funds support program exchanges between Tacoma and other cities or countries?
    A:  Tacoma Creates will support programs and projects that happen in Tacoma that increase citizens access to opportunities. Although it hasn’t been determined definitively, the focus will be on activities that happen in town, so perhaps the components that bring artists here.
  • Q: How can organizations not primarily focused on arts/culture/science/heritage get support from Tacoma Creates to integrate arts/culture/science/heritage 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/desires. We are looking to “match make” organizations and locations that are seeking to integrate more artists/arts programming into their mix. If you are interested in being a venue for activities and/or partnering with arts, heritage, science, and culture organizations, please email contact@tacomacreates.com.
  • Q: Does the nonprofit have to be in Tacoma if it is serving outside of Tacoma? 
    A: The non-profit’s principal location and majority of activities must be within the City of Tacoma.
  • 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 science or technology, visual or performing arts, zoology, botany, anthropology, heritage, or natural history. The non-profit must have a 2-year track record providing public programming. The non-profit’s principal location and majority of activities must be within the City of Tacoma.  
    That said, programs and projects that fulfill the 2-year track record, are publicly facing, and whose purposes are to advance arts, culture, heritage and science can be sponsored by a 501(c)3 fiscal agent who fits the definition of a 501(c)3 listed above. In addition, through Tacoma Creates funding, the above described organizations should have a larger capacity to partner or contract with you on projects.
  • Q: Can Tacoma Creates support community-based organization's capital needs?
    A: Capital costs are not precluded from funding, however we are still working out the parameters for what would be eligible.
  • Q: Will there be consideration to increase venue performance spaces? 
    A: Tacoma Creates will not be the direct driver to increase venue performance spaces. However, in partnering with the Tacoma Public School district, we are looking at ways to increase use of existing performance venues in schools and reducing barriers to use. If an organization is seeking to create a venue or space, support for that need can potentially be included in a funding request.

Audience Participation 

  • Q: I live outside the city of Tacoma, can I benefit or participate?
    A: Tacoma Creates is funded by Tacoma residents and the intent is to serve Tacoma’s underserved neighborhoods first. However, our arts, culture, science and heritage organizations generally lean toward inclusion and we’d expect they’d extend programs to those outside Tacoma. For example, you may not get a program in your neighbor funded by Tacoma Creates, but the additional available funding may allow organizations to do more regionally that would benefit you. Or, a program may have a lower admission rate or program fee for those living in the city.
  • Q: How will we find out about Tacoma Creates offerings? 
    A: For now, keep in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram. As the Tacoma Creates program is rolled out, we will also have a robust website.


  • Q: Will there be a cap amount that large institutions can receive through this initiative?
    A: Yes. Organizations are eligible to participate in a competitive application and evaluation process for funds up to 15% of their annual budget, capped at $400,000, to support sustainable implementation of increasing access, ensuring equity and inclusion, and building diverse populations.
  • Q: Is there a mechanism that will seek out/target underrepresented communities to help them receive funding?
    A: Yes, one of the goals of Tacoma Creates is to partner with and support smaller community and neighborhood-based organizations that may not have a lot of staffing resources but are nonetheless dedicated and working hard to create vibrant spaces through arts, culture, science and heritage programs or events within their respective communities. Application and guidelines for smaller organizations are being developed. These non-profits can apply for program and project funds up to $50,000.


Funded Organization Materials

Tacoma Creates logo (JPG)

Tacoma Creates logo (PNG)