By Dale and Leslie Chihuly
The News Tribune | Opinion | Sunday, October 21

This November, Tacoma residents have an opportunity to pass Proposition One, Tacoma Creates, a ballot measure to raise nearly $5 million a year for cultural outreach, increased tourism and job creation. We support Proposition One and believe its long-term benefits—including extended access to arts, culture and science education for our youth, expanded cultural access for all residents, and a boost to the city’s economy—outweigh its cost, which is one penny for every $10 spent in the city.

As a Tacoma native who has been fortunate to explore his art-making practice for over fifty years, and as a business leader who has served on the boards of arts organizations which struggle to balance budgets with the community’s desire for increased cultural exposure, we both feel strongly that Proposition One promises to enrich the lives of residents and foster an empathic future for the community. But don’t just take our word for it.

Numerous national studies have demonstrated that art experiences and education enhance children’s learning. Arts integration in curriculum boosts critical thinking, improves long-term retention, and affects the development of values by increasing empathy and tolerance. Exposure and access to diverse arts and cultural experiences play a critical role in providing a well-rounded education which prepares our youth with 21st Century skills that lead to success in work and encourage future contributions back to communities.

Arts experiences are beneficial for all segments of our community. For instance, it has been shown that healing mental and physical injury is improved by connections to arts education and experiences. Tacoma is rich in programs which provide valuable arts experiences to every community member, but the reach of these organizations is determined – and often limited – by their dependence on community contributions.

Hilltop Artists connects young people with better futures by building confidence and personal expression through tuition-free glassblowing programs in Tacoma and Franklin-Pierce School Districts. Over the past four years, these students have had a 100-percent graduation rate with 58-percent moving on to post-secondary education, 50-percent to employment, and 25-percent are doing both.

The Museum of Glass cooperates with Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the Veterans Administration to operate Hot Shop Heroes, a program which uses the transformative properties of glassmaking to help soldiers and veterans coping with trauma and injuries experienced in combat. This program has proven successful in restoring the spirit of military personnel with PTSD and TBI, as well as offering benefits for those dealing with physical impairments.

Programs like these have enhanced the lives of many of our neighbors and friends. How many more of our children, injured heroes, and other fragile populations could benefit from similar programs?  How much would our community benefit if everyone had access to arts programs?

If Tacoma Creates passes, critical programs would be eligible to apply for support to expand their reach and effectiveness. That is why we support Proposition One, and why we encourage you to vote “YES” on November 6.