In November 2018, Tacoma voters approved Tacoma Creates by 67.2% and, with that, a unique program got its start in the city. Tacoma Creates is an initiative aimed squarely at boosting arts, culture, heritage and science experiences all throughout Tacoma by reducing barriers to access and expanding what’s available to everyone, but especially to underserved kids.

While the program is just getting going, the implications are wide. Tacoma is a city ready to see the arts and sciences get a boost in a major way. This year is the year Tacoma Creates will focus on getting things going as regular funding will not be available until 2020.

As part of ramping up, the city has hired Lisa Jaret as the Tacoma Creates Program Manager.

Tacoma Creates
Tacoma Creates seeks to expand access to arts, culture, science and heritage activities for the community, but especially for kids. Photo courtesy: Tacoma Creates

“I got excited about the idea of Tacoma Creates in 2017, when I learned there was an effort to get it on the 2018 ballot,” says Jaret. “I fully believe in the idea that increasing engagement and education in arts, culture, heritage and science will make Tacoma a healthier, more vibrant, and more productive city. Helping to build this first-in-the-state program is an incredible opportunity, and it happens to align really well with my professional background and my personal interests. And, I’ve been living in Tacoma since 2005, but commuting to work in Olympia, so this is a great chance for me to get more personally invested in the city where I live.”

Jaret came to her position with Tacoma Creates after a lengthy background in arts education, as well as experience in the non-profit and public sector.  

My pathway here started by being very involved with theatre and dance as a kid, and then as a teen and a college student those interests expanded to include production and administration,” she explains. “I discovered that being a stage manager and an arts administrator were really cool ways to be involved in the arts, and more suited to my skills than being a performer. I moved to Washington State in 1992, and spent 13 years developing and managing education programs at Seattle Children’s Theatre. From there, I went to the Washington State Arts Commission, where I was the Arts in Education Program Manager from 2005 to 2019.” 

Tacoma Creates
An artist shaping molten glass in the Museum of Glass hot shop in Tacoma Washington. Photo courtesy: Tacoma Creates

Just What Will Tacoma Creates Do?

Tacoma Creates will aim to boost both programs and engagement across the board. The program will have a multi-pronged approach to boosting and extending arts, culture, science and heritage programs throughout the city. Just some of the ways the program will do this include:

Forming partnerships between community or non-profit organizations and Tacoma Public Schools to up the ante on before, during and after school programs, summer programs, and field trip opportunities centered on arts, culture, science and heritage.

The program also hopes to expand access for all Tacoma residents to events, venues, performances, exhibits and more by increasing free and reduced tickets and memberships. This will be for everyone, regardless of financial means, with the goal of getting more people out and about to experience the city’s many arts, science, cultural and science offerings.

Tacoma Creates
Tacoma Creates is an initiative aimed squarely at boosting arts, culture, heritage and science experiences all throughout Tacoma. Photo courtesy: Tacoma Creates

Tacoma Creates will also help neighborhood programs, community festivals, street fairs and other community-driven events, so that our city’s neighborhoods can continue to create fun and unique things to do.

“Tacoma Creates is poised to have a positive impact in our community in so many ways,” says Jaret. “The overall mission is to increase access to arts, culture, heritage and science experiences; within that, Tacoma Creates funding will support expanded educational programs for young people and adults, programs that take place in neighborhoods across the city, opportunities for new collaborations between different organizations in different sectors, and capacity-building efforts that will help the program providers in our community get stronger and create even better work – and all of this will be pursued with an intentional focus on equity and access. We’re not going to be able to do everything all at once – we’re just at the foundation-building stage now – but there are so many great things on the horizon.”

For more information about Tacoma Creates, visit the program’s webpage. Tacoma Creates is interested in learning about organizations based in Tacoma that provide public programming in the arts, culture, heritage and science. If you are such an organization, please reach out to them via email or take the pre-application survey, which helps the City’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality learn more about the organizations who may be eligible for Tacoma Creates funding, and is also a first step for any organization that is interested in funding opportunities.

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