On June 16, 2021, after a 42 year private-public partnership, Tacoma Arts Live announced that the organization will no longer continue as the performing arts venues manager for the Pantages Theater, Rialto Theater, and Theater on the Square on behalf of the City of Tacoma. The news arrives after the City of Tacoma issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) (reference Specification No. PF21-0466F) in April 2021 for management of performing arts venues. The existing agreement between the City of Tacoma and Tacoma Arts Live will expire on June 30, 2021. Tacoma Arts Live’s Box Office and administrative offices remain in operation and will relocate to Tacoma Armory later this summer.
In the span of a year, the City Of Tacoma has twice broken contracts with Tacoma Arts Live. It’s difficult to negotiate with an untrustworthy partner, but we certainly did try. Our Board of Trustees and executive team were ready to respond to the RFP until its publication declared highly proscriptive terms, including the demand that all respondents substantially adhere to the stated requirements or be disqualified. There were five issues that were radical departures from the past 42 year practice. Tacoma Arts Live communicated our objections and then opted out. The ONLY request made of Tacoma City Council was to rescind the demotion of Tacoma Arts Live’s status as a Resident Arts Organization. Council supported that reinstatement. There was never an offer to remedy our objections or remove the stipulation to adhere to the RFP’s terms which allowed no framework for negotiation. Certain Council Members offered mediation toward the renewal of contract terms. City staff quashed that offer and instead offered mediation toward "healing". Tacoma Arts Live declined, instead recommending that healing would come through time and through the keeping of contractual commitments. In an effort toward transparency, Tacoma Arts Live documents all of this below.
Rest assured, Tacoma Arts Live will rise up and fight for our place in serving you, our community, by bringing world-class, diverse performances and special events to the Pantages Theater, Rialto Theater, Theater on the Square, as well as other local venues. However, we will not serve as the venue manager of the City-owned theaters once this current management term expires on June 30, 2021. We are excited by our future, both at the City theaters, and at the historic Tacoma Armory which will become our new focus for special events and community engagement.