By Bill Baarsma, Priscilla Lisicich, Harold Moss
Tacoma Weekly | Opinion | Monday, October 29
As Tacoma grows, how do we maintain – and grow – the sense of community that makes our city special?
We do it by building on what’s been working: investments in learning opportunities, support of shared spaces – from neighborhoods to parks to historical locations – and promotion of arts, culture and heritage. There’s a proposition on the November ballot to support all these advantages, and create even more.
Tacoma Creates is a 1/10 of 1 percent sales tax toward non-profit arts, culture, science and heritage programming within the city. It will support K-12 students, invigorate our neighborhoods, increase economic activity, create jobs, and improve our individual and collective well-being.
We need strong learning environments
Tacoma Creates will support before and after school and summer programming for public school students. Studies show that participation in cultural arts programs increases academic performance across all subject matters and increases the likelihood that youth will attend college. Furthermore, youth engaged in these programs are also more engaged in extracurricular and volunteer activities.
We need vibrant neighborhoods
Tacoma Creates will provide funds and resources for more neighborhood programs and activities. Getting out into the community, meeting our neighbors, learning about their ideas and culture has a tremendous value, one that can be measured in both impact and dollars. The activity that comes to our neighborhoods through street fairs, to our parks during festivals and to our business districts with people strolling the sidewalks to attend a local performance adds to both the economy and the personal connections that develop vibrant, unique neighborhoods.
We need positive social connections
Cultural arts activities should be available to all. Tacoma Creates will fund access for those who cannot afford it, through free and discounted programs and events. These experiences are good for all of us whether a toddler or living in retirement. They improve our physical and mental health. Self-expression – through music, dance, performance, painting or writing – decreases stress, boosts immune function and improves emotional well-being. Learning about our heritage – through stories about our community – provides an understanding of our past and potential for our future. Joining in or even viewing these activities builds multicultural social connections and increases civic engagement. These shared experiences, active and passive, make a positive impact on equity and social justice.
We need good jobs and a multi-faceted economy
Tacoma’s cultural organizations provide 3,656 full-time equivalent jobs and generate $86 million in household income. According to a recent national Arts & Economic Prosperity study, Tacoma’s nonprofit arts and culture sector generated $137.2 million in economic activity. $74.6 million was spent by nonprofit organizations and an additional $62.6 million in audience event-related spending (food, transportation, child care). And that audience is not all from Tacoma, in fact over 27 percent lived outside Pierce County. Cultural programming is a draw to bringing in tourism dollars.
For just $13 per year for the average Tacoma household, we will be able to say: Tacoma Creates learning opportunities, vibrant neighborhoods, economic impact, and individual and community well-being.
Bill Baarsma, Priscilla Lisicich and Harold Moss comprise the Proposition 1 “For” Committee.