Tacoma could be on the verge of a big change. The City arts commission has invited Artspace, a national non-profit renowned for developing property into live/work studios for artists, to come to Tacoma and see if it can happen here. The feasibility study will take place May 9 and 10, but there’s a community meeting at 7 p.m. May 9 to meet Artspace representatives and offer feedback on the plan.
What’s Artspace? If you’ve wandered around Seattle’s Pioneer Square, you’ll have seen their most famous Seattle development in the Toshiro-Kaplan lofts. One of the driving forces behind the historic area’s renaissance in the 1990s, the building houses King County arts agency 4 Culture, 15 independent galleries and a coffee shop on street level, plus 50 affordable studios where artists can live and do their work with plentiful light and space. Other Artspace developments in the Northwest include the Hiawatha lofts and in-construction Mt. Baker Station lofts in south Seattle, and lofts in Everett and Portland.
Now Tacoma has the same possibility, with the non-profit taking a look around our wealth of unused downtown historic spaces.
Why do we need live/work spaces for artists? Firstly, its one of the few ways artists can afford to live in a dynamic neighborhood close to the galleries they need. Second, those same artists will galvanize the neighborhood and create a city ecosystem like Pioneer Square.
“Artist live/work developments can be catalytic to communities,” said City arts commissioner Amy McBride in a press release. “(They) are productive creative centers that can become destinations and anchor neighborhoods. With Tacoma’s beautiful historic building stock ripe for adaptive re-use…an artist live/work development would be an excellent addition to our arts ecosystem.”