Tacoma is an artsy kind of place—filled with galleries large and small, two major art museums, a thriving theater district and artists galore. Tacoma’s art also often does more than merely add aesthetically pleasing elements to the city; it works to better its community, doing everything from helping to revitalize downtown to protecting walls from graffiti via the Tacoma Mural Project. It only makes sense that the city would take time out to celebrate art, and it does just that with Tacoma Arts Month.

pierce-college-logo“Tacoma Arts Month is your personal invitation to get out and explore our city, try some new cultural experiences, and connect with community,” says Naomi Strom-Avila, Cultural Arts Specialist with the City of Tacoma. “Arts and culture are essential to Tacoma’s identity and enrich our daily lives. Tacoma Arts Month helps highlight the opportunities that are waiting for you.”

Now in its 15th year, Tacoma Arts Month revolves around its usual events—an opening party, studio tours and a very artsy events calendar, but also seeks to shake things up a little bit each year. This year, there will be a new Tacoma Arts Month app available in the Google Play store. There will also be contests galore, including the #TacomaArts Challenge.

Tacoma Arts Month
The Tacoma Arts Month Opening Party features dance performances, live music and all kinds of creative fun. Photo: Property of the City of Tacoma.

“People who attend any arts and culture event in Tacoma in October can be automatically entered to win one of three amazing prize packages just by taking a selfie at the event, posting using #TacomaArts (and mention the name of the event you are at),” says Strom-Avila.

The gold prize packages contains an overnight stay in Tacoma, dinner and tickets to a variety of cultural events. The silver prize package contains lunch and tickets to cultural events. The bronze package contains tickets to a variety of cultural events. In short, you could win big simply for checking out the arts and taking selfies.

Tacoma Arts Month kicks off with an Opening Party each year, and no two parties are ever the same. This year’s theme is “kaleidoscope” and the entertainment lineup includes a veritable kaleidoscope of experiences, including an exhibit of Wayzgoose steamroller prints from the past few years, artwork created by the HUE Collaborative (which is a group of artists of color who are currently working on a giant mural at People’s Community Center), dance performances, hands-on art making and a life-sized kaleidoscope created by Tinkertopia. Later in the evening, there will be live music by Champagne Sunday.

The best thing about the party? It’s completely free and open to the public. This year’s event takes place September 29, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the Asia Pacific Cultural Center.

Lois Yoshida
Sumi artist Lois Yoshida demonstrates her work. Photo: Property of the City of Tacoma.

After the Opening Party, the other major planned event is the Studio Tour, which takes place on October 15 and 16, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. both days. The Studio Tour is a unique event that takes the public inside the working studios of 57 local artists—12 of which are new to the tour. All studios on the tour have either a hands-on activity to try for yourself or a live demonstration, and studios are incredibly varied—visit print makers, book binders, a ceramic artists, photographers and more. Over the course of the two-day tour, visit as many or as few as you’d like. Tours are all self-guided. Check the Studio Tour Brochure to see which studios are open on which days and plan your route of choice.

“The Tacoma Studio Tour is a unique opportunity to meet local artists, see their studio spaces, learn about the creative process, and even get hands-on,” says Strom-Avila. “Not only that, you have a chance to win some hand-crafted artwork by these artists just by getting your Studio Tour Passport stamped at eight or more studio locations.”

The Studio Tour Passport is another way to win prizes in October, and is now in its second year. This contest is different from the #TacomaArts Challenge. While #TacomaArts Challenge is open to any Tacoma arts events, the Studio Tour Passport is a contest that takes place only during the two days of this event. You can pick up your passport at any studio during the tour, or print it out ahead of time from the website.

“Studio Tour attendees just need to collect a stamp at each studio location they visit (there’s 34 locations to choose from),” explains Strom-Avila. “If they collect at least eight stamps, they can send us their passport and be entered into a drawing to win artwork created by some of the artists on the tour. And, yes, the prize packages are going to be really amazing – everything from ceramic mugs to handmade books to hand-printed greeting cards to jewelry.”

Jessica Spring
Print artist, Jessica Spring, shows a young visitor the inner workings of a printing press. Photo: Property of the City of Tacoma.

Tacoma Arts Month takes place throughout October and includes planned events, but also serves as a time to recognize all arts-related events in town. The website includes an events calendar where you can go and see a listing of everything from plays and concerts, to workshops and tours.

Overall, Tacoma Arts Month aims to provide a range of experiences so everyone can join in the fun one way or another. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the arts all month long or check out a single event, don’t miss out on the chance to get out and find out what makes Tacoma’s art’s scene so cool.

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