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ArtsFund Luncheon

ArtsFund celebrates the financial side of Tacoma

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“Vibrant.” “Livable.” “Vital.” “Viable.”

Not bad, in terms of adjectives used to describe a city where once, the best that could hope for was a local paper deeming it “gritty.”

But now, this little, vibrant city of ours that could is being featured in the Smithsonian magazine as one of five places you should visit — to which we reply, Pah! We live here, we know the secret already!

And why is our fine city going all Cinderella on the world?

One word: The Arts.

And at today’s ArtsFund “A Celebration of the Arts” at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, that point was driven home with a hammer — with a special, gilded hammer.

Thing is, to create a vital, vibrant arts scene that creates commerce and excitement and, in turn, a vital, vibrant, livable city, you need cash.

And the ArtsFund is all about getting and then distributing that cash to create institutions of the Arts that live and breathe; today was all about celebrating the people who help to make it happen.

Awards were presented for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, which celebrated the work of Drs. Paul-Elliott and Loma L. Cobbs with the Tacoma Youth Symphony Association and alluded to the importance of education that would be part of the keynote address,  and Outstanding Foundation Leadership in the Arts, celebrating the work of the Ben B. Cheney Foundation.

Through the course of the luncheon, ArtsFund members and business supporters of ArtsFund spoke eloquently about the role of the arts in the community, and, to my mind, drove home the impressive accomplishments that have gone on, quite un-noticed, through the efforts of companies like Columbia Bank, Riddell Williams, Weyerhauser, the Boeing Company, Comcast, and even Intel Corporation, who, according to Community Relations Manager Rick Meeder, typically will support science and technology funds. But Intel’s revenge will be on stage soon, as they help to sponsor the Mad Science “Newton’s Revenge” production coming soon to Tacoma.

Even still, keynote speaker Dr. Terry Bergeson emphasized the importance of the arts and brought the point back to a need for them, and in her opening comments addressed the Drs. Cobbs, speaking warmly about “the wonderful thing, the love between you and the love for what you do.”

Bergeson continued to tell about coming into Tacoma in 1968, to work at Gault Middle School, calling it a “different city than what it was,” adding that it’s changed, in may ways, “because of the attraction of the arts.”

She pointed to the exemplary WASL scores of the Tacoma School of the Arts (top WASL scores in the county), and used examples of how the arts — specifically the four disciplines of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts — have impacted many students’ lives for the richer, consequently the arts and arts assessments will be a big part of graduation requirements for all students in Washington State schools. But to grow the programs that will sustain the progression of education to become more arts-encompassing, Bergeson pointed out we need to “find money.”

“Arts education improves academic success,” Bergeson declared.

She closed with the thought that schools should prepare adults that are “powerful, caring, strong, smart, disciplined, and able to soar.”

“Without Arts, that can never fully happen,” she added.

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