Tacoma Arts Live, Tacoma
David Fischer’s professional background in the arts began as a professional theater artist in 1977. His degrees in theater and film (BA, MFA) as well as his Leadership Certificate from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, along with his work experience have allowed him to become deeply invested in the arts through theatre production, performing arts presenting, arts management, fundraising, advocacy, teaching, and urban design. He has worked as Producing Artistic Director for Tacoma Little Theatre, Executive Director of the Pierce County Arts Commission, Deputy Executive Director of Tacoma Arts Live, and prior to returning to Tacoma, as Executive Director of the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, California. Fischer reorganized that non-profit, including its staff, fundraising, capital investment, endowment growth, governance, and programmatic impact resulting in an improvement to the balance sheet of $14 million in 5-1/2 years.
Since 2006, Mr. Fischer has served as Executive Director of Tacoma’s non-profit performing arts center, Tacoma Arts Live, Fischer has worked to transform the organization to focus on strengthening its service to the community as a whole, particularly in:
- Education through the arts,
- DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion),
- Historic facility improvements and preservation,
- Economic development for Tacoma’s Historic Theater District,
- Professional theater production and
- Advocacy for public funding of arts, heritage and science non-profits.
In 2019, Tacoma Arts Live commissioned an outside consultant to independently assess the more than a decade of improvements of Tacoma Arts Live and found the non-profit to be leading the field of performing arts and education through the arts both regionally and nationally in a variety of ways:
- Diverse programs for the broadest spectrum of community
- Initiation of new programs in the performing arts
- Growth and depth of impact in education, now serving 50,000 students and teachers in four counties – the largest, most in-depth program of its kind in the State of Washington and a leader nationally;
- Service to the greater performing arts sector regionally through significant partnerships
- Major capital improvements through public/private investments
- Deep improvement in overall governance by increasing the Board’s leadership in strategic planning and financial impact;
- Growth of the annual budget from $2.1 million to $6.6 million annually – including a tripling of ticket sales and charitable contributions;
- Elimination of long-term debt and significant increasing of reserves.
From 1985 to 1990, Fischer worked as Studio Coordinator for the world renowned Urban Planner and Architect, Lawrence Halprin. During Fischer’s tenure, he supported Mr. Halprin in his design work for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, the Haas Promenade with the United Nations overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, the master plan for the I.M. Pei Tower in Los Angeles, and the master plan for Alcatraz in San Francisco, among other projects.
Fischer’s leadership as a volunteer has benefited many constituents throughout the nation through his service to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Park Service, Americans for the Arts, various chambers of commerce, tourism bureaus, universities, as well as city, county, and state governments.
In 2019, Fischer was honored by the Historical Society of Tacoma for historic preservation and by Tacoma’s Chamber of Commerce with the Art Popham award as a major catalyst for improvements to downtown Tacoma. In September of 2013, Fischer was awarded the Distinguished Service Award (last awarded in 1992) by the Western Arts Alliance for his work in advancing performing arts centers in the Western United States. Fischer currently serves on the Advisory Board for the UW Tacoma School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, is a founding member of CODA - the Western Arts Alliance Advisory Board, and is immediate-past co-chair of Cultural Access Washington, a state-wide cultural advocacy organization supporting heritage and science agencies.