TRANSFORM: Theater District Culture & Transportation Plan

TRANSFORM is a community engagement project, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, that aims to raise awareness of Tacoma’s Theater District and to highlight opportunities for creative use of public spaces within its footprint. Pierce Transit, City of Tacoma, and Tacoma Arts Live are developing a plan to redesign the transportation and cultural hub that is framed by 9th and 11th streets, Broadway and Pacific Ave.

Project Intent & Vision

The Theater District Placemaking project presents an enormous opportunity to strengthen one of Tacoma’s oldest neighborhoods. The Project Partners (Pierce Transit, the City of Tacoma, and Tacoma Arts Live) share a vision for a more robust and active downtown: a place where arts, cultural and civic events are available to residents, workers and visitors. This planning project builds on the neighborhood’s existing assets and identifies potential synergies between them. The plan also identifies new opportunities to create a stronger sense of place.

Public Space Framework

The Tacoma Theater District is approximately 16 blocks in area, bounded on the south by 11th Street and the north by 7th Street. In the east-west direction, the District rises steeply from Pacific Avenue up the hill to Market Street. It includes multiple performing arts venues, beautiful historic buildings such as Old City Hall and the Pantages Theater, Broadway and the well-attended weekly Farmer’s Market, and Commerce Street, a regional transportation corridor for buses and light rail. This plan includes a public space framework that encompasses this entire area, with a wide range of ideas aimed at making the district feel more active and vibrant, improving access on nights and weekends, making it easier to get around, improving the sense of safety, providing amenities, events and programming for all ages, and supporting the people and businesses who are already here.

Click here to view the entire plan
(43 page PDF)

The following images were taken during numerous Transform community engagement events that took place in 2018 and 2019 throughout Tacoma’s theater district. The events were free to the public, featured local performers, and offered education about the Transform project with opportunities for public input.   

Featured Events 

Center for Lost and Found
Gabe Nordlund & Colin Andersen

The Center for the Lost and Found is a place to share stories of lost or found objects and spread them into the community. Come create your very own lost or found poster and the CLF artists will post them around town, to foster remembrance for those things we miss and are grateful for. (more…)

Artistic License Department
Gillian Nordlund

The Artistic License Dept. exists as a service to the public. Inspired by an obvious play on words its intentions are to encourage and support participants’ creativity and imagination.

In this performance, participants take a simple test based on fundamental aspects of art making as well as their own opinions. They are then issued an art making “license” upon completion of the test. (more…)