Sunday, February 20, 2005

CREATIVE CLASS: Yes, it is About the Artists: The Tacoma Story

CREATIVE CLASS: Yes, it is About the Artists: The Tacoma Story
by Sarah Kavage
Located at the southern end of Puget Sound, Tacoma has been trying to step out of Seattle’s shadow since the Gold Rush days, without much success. Whenever a renaissance seemed within its grasp, crime, scandal, or economic forces knocked the city back down.
Lately, however, Tacoma’s lengthy quest for revitalization finally has started to take hold. An economic development strategy that focuses not just on the arts, but also on the artists, has yielded $1 billion in public and private investment downtown in the last five years.
A Tale of Two Tacomas
Tacoma’s most visible revitalization has occurred in the city’s downtown core, largely by cultural and civic institutions. The showpiece of this “New Tacoma” is the dramatic waterside Museum of Glass, connected to the downtown by a 500-foot sky bridge designed in part by renowned glass artist and Tacoma native Dale Chihuly. The Tacoma Art Museum has expanded into a new facility next to the History Museum and the city courthouse. Martini bars, coffee shops, brew pubs, and other signs of yuppie-dom are springing up—as are parks, housing, a light rail line, a University of Washington branch campus, and a convention center. ...