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Forging Our Cultural Future

Having been on the forefront of the movement to get Tacoma Creates passed last year, TAM has become a leader in arts advocacy locally. So it made perfect sense to attend this year’s gathering of artists, government leaders, and representatives from various arts, cultural and heritage organizations at the 2019 Cultural Congress held in October on the Yakama Nation.

The event was organized by Inspire Washington, a new organization which was formed from the merger of the Washington State Arts Alliance and Cultural Access Washington. Inspire Washington aims to build a broad and powerful statewide coalition to champion advocacy and resource development for Washington’s cultural sector. Unifying science, heritage and the arts creates extensive reach, profound impact, and innovative opportunities.

Over the course of three days, attendees met to learn about a variety of topics that ranged from increasing public art in their communities to emergency preparedness and issues of accessibility. In addition, great presentations addressed topics such as the lack of public investment in the arts and cultural sector in Washington and how Bay Area and Minnesota institutions secured long-term funding. Americans for the Arts sent staff with an update about national legislation and how the arts are improving the state’s economy by supporting jobs and driving tourism, building a 21st century workforce, improving education, and unifying communities. Attendees learned that:

  • In Washington, arts and culture is a $41.4 billion industry and 8.3 percent of the state economy.
  • The nonprofit arts industry (of which TAM is a part) generates $166.3 billion nationally in economic activity annually.
  • Arts unify communities – 72 % of Americans believe “the arts unify our communities regardless of age, race, and ethnicity.”
  • Arts drive tourism and revenue to local businesses.  Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $31.47 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on additional items related to their cultural experience.

To expand awareness of the arts and culture of the city of Yakima and its surrounding communities, we enjoyed a performance from the Yakima Music en Acción and a visit to the amazing home of artist Leo Adams.

Connections made at this year’s Cultural Congress will strengthen the sector and help prepare for Cultural Arts Day in Olympia on February 5, 2020, when we have the opportunity to speak directly with our state representatives about the impact of the creative sector and share these important stories and information.