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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. Eligible non-profit arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations are 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.


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

Keep in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram.


Tacoma Creates Advisory Board

Applications for the Tacoma Creates Advisory Board are currently open. You can apply by visiting the City of Tacoma’s Committee, Boards and Commissions application page.


The Board will consist of 12 volunteer members appointed by City Council. All members must be residents of Tacoma, and must have interest in, and familiarity with public programing in arts, culture, heritage, and/or science, as well as interest in Tacoma Creates goals regarding equity, access, and programs that provide public benefit for residents across Tacoma.


The Advisory Board, as a whole, will reflect the diversity of the City; board appointments will take into account racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender, age, and other aspects of personal and professional identity.

The 12 member Advisory Board will consist of the following: 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/community development; and one seat will be filled by a representative from the Mayor’s Youth Commission.  


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, except the youth seat which will always be a one-year term. Members may be reappointed for a second term, but shall serve no more than six consecutive years.


The Board advises Tacoma Creates Administration on funding programs to support public benefit in arts, culture, heritage, and science programs throughout Tacoma.  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.


Individuals who have any financial interest in a cultural organization seeking Tacoma Creates funding may not serve on the Advisory Board. This includes anyone receiving payment as staff, contractor, or any other capacity. Individuals who are affiliated with a cultural organization as a volunteer, but who receive no financial compensation, may apply to serve on the Advisory Board. These individuals will be required to recuse themselves from any vote that impacts an organization with which they are affiliated.


Monthly meetings are held 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 will occasionally participate in application review panels, and are expected to act as outreach ambassadors to arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations, and the general public.


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


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.

Eligibility for Funding Programs

Organizations who fulfill the following eligibility criteria may apply for Tacoma Creates funding programs. Specific eligibility and criteria may vary, depending on the funding program.


Eligibility Category A – Organizations meet all five primary eligibility criteria:

  • 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.

Eligibility Category B – An organization that does not meet the Track Record criteria, but meets all other criteria listed in Category A.


Eligibility Category C – An organization that does not meet the Non-Profit Status criteria, and may not meet the Track Record criteria, but does meet all other criteria listed in Category A. Organizations in this category may apply with a Fiscal Sponsor.


Eligibility Category D – An organization that does not meet the Location criteria, but meets all other criteria listed in Category A, and has a business address within Pierce County, and is able to demonstrate that at least 65 percent of its public programming occurs within the City of Tacoma.


Eligibility Category E – Affiliate Cultural Programs within a larger non-profit. Established and distinct cultural programs that meet the Primary Purpose, Location, and Program Delivery criteria, and are part of a larger non-profit, public-serving organization, may apply if the following additional eligibility criteria are met:

  • Independent mission: Have a published mission statement independent of the parent organization.

  • Independent board: Have a board or steering committee that guides the program, independent of the parent organization’s board.

  • Independent budget: Have a distinct, balanced budget, independent of the parent organization.

  • Track record: Five years providing public programming in arts, culture, heritage, and/or science.

  • Staff: Have dedicated, paid staff, equal to at least one full-time employee

  • Matching Funds: Provide a 1:1 cash match for Tacoma Creates funds.

  • The parent organization must:

    • Be a public-serving 501(c)(3) or 301(c)(6) non-profit organization.

    • Be based in the City of Tacoma.

    • Retain no more than 10 percent of any Tacoma Creates grant to support administrative services.

Eligibility Category F – Business District Associations and Neighborhood Councils. Business District Associations and Neighborhood Councils recognized by the City of Tacoma may apply for funding for neighborhood-based arts, culture, heritage, and/or science programs or events, especially fairs and festivals, but must have a Fiscal Sponsor that is a 501(c)(3) organization in Tacoma that meets the Primary Purpose criteria of advancing or preserving arts, culture, heritage, and/or science.


The specific exclusions noted in RCW 36.160 apply to all eligibility categories:


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 funding will support public programming in Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Science, with a strong focus on equity, access, and public benefit. Funding will be allocated through the lens of four key Tacoma Creates priorities:

  • Overall Priority – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Public Benefit Area #1 – Neighborhood Programming

  • Public Benefit Area #2 – Increasing Public Access

  • Public Benefit Area #3 – Educational Programming for Youth

2019 is a ramp up year for Tacoma Creates. In 2020, eligible organizations may apply to one of two Tacoma Creates funding categories:

  1. Comprehensive Organizational Support: Organizations that apply in this category may request up to 15 percent of their total budget (up to a maximum of $400,000), and must demonstrate organizational commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as a strong programming work in all three. Organizations must be in Eligibility Category A, described above, to apply in this category.

  2. Impact Grants: Organizations that apply in this category may request up to $50,000 for a single program or multiple programs, and must demonstrate a commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, as well as strong programming work in at least one of the Public Benefit areas listed above. Organizations in any eligibility category described above may apply in this category.

Guidelines and applications materials for 2020 funding opportunities will be posted in January 2020.

Community Engagement

As we launch 2020 program funding, we will be looking to engage with the community in a variety of ways. One of the goals of Tacoma Creates is to support small and emerging arts, culture, heritage, and science organizations.


Tacoma Creates funding will 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 and/or desires. Over time, we intend to facilitate connections between the cultural sector and other organizations that are seeking to integrate more arts, culture, heritage, and/or science programming into their mix.

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 (TPS) 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.


Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process where community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. This process gives community members real decision-making power over allocated funds.


These neighborhoods were chosen based on the Health Department’s Communities of Focus, which is also in alignment with the 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.


For surveys available in Spanish, Vietnamese, or Korean, please contact Clarissa Gines, Tacoma Creates Coordinator, at cgines@cityoftacoma.org or (253) 591-5174.


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


Planning and Capacity Building Funding

Fifty-four eligible organizations were awarded Planning and Capacity Building Funding in 2019. 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


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





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.

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.

Where does the funding come from?

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.

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. 

Tacoma Creates Timeline

  • June 26, 2018 – Tacoma City Council unanimously passes Resolution to put Tacoma Creates on the ballot
  • 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
  • December 2019 – Tacoma Creates Ordinance is passed
  • Winter 2020 – Development of funding programs and application opportunities


Arts organization” means an organization that provides programming across one or more of the following artistic fields: creative place-making, dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literary arts, multi-disciplinary arts, music, media arts, theater, and visual arts.


Cultural organizations” and/or “cultural sector” means, collectively, organizations whose primary purpose is to advance and/or preserve arts, culture, heritage, and/or science, and who provide public programming in these areas.


Culture organization” means an organization that provides programming that focuses on extending or sustaining the traditions, customs, language, knowledge, skills, trades, and/or celebrate the achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social identity group.


Downtown core” means the area within the following boundaries: North border is 6th Avenue; East border is Thea Foss Waterway and East L Street, South border is I-5; West border is Tacoma Avenue South.


Map of Downtown Core


Equity” means minimizing historical, systematic, and institutional disparities and maximizing opportunities for all people. Equity takes into account context: history, current realities, and future outcomes. The purpose of equity in Tacoma Creates programming is to foster greater inclusiveness, increase diversity, and broaden participation in arts, culture, heritage, and science experiences.


Fiscal sponsorship” means a formal arrangement in which a 501(c)(3) organization, based in Washington State, provides financial management and other administrative services for an organization that provides public benefit but lacks 501(c)(3) status. Fiscal sponsors will be eligible to receive and manage a funding contract from Tacoma Creates on behalf of the sponsored organization; fees charged by the fiscal sponsor to cover administrative fees may not exceed 10% of any funding contract.


Heritage organization” means an organization that provides programming that focuses on the identification, documentation, exhibition, interpretation, and/or preservation of the past, including the people, places, events, and physical spaces of any community of people.


Panel” means a group of individuals convened by staff to review applications or nominations using published review criteria, and make recommendations to the Advisory Board.


Science organization” means an organization that provides programming across one or more of the following scientific fields: physical sciences, life sciences, natural sciences, earth and space sciences, engineering, technology, and work that applies scientific methods or engineering design cycles.


Tacoma Creates Administration” means the Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality within the Tacoma Venues and Events Department, or its successor within Tacoma’s administration.


Funded Organization Materials

Tacoma Creates logo (JPG)

Tacoma Creates logo (PNG)

Contact Us

Lisa Jaret

Tacoma Creates Program Manager


(253) 591-5161


Clarissa Gines

Tacoma Creates Coordinator


(253) 591-5174