Published on January 26th, 2015 | by Katy Evans0
To paint a giant flower on the Tacoma Dome. That is best.
Recently, my colleague and buddy Whitney thoughtfully critiqued our local ability to fundraise the means necessary to flowerify the Tacoma Dome. And I agree with her perspective when it comes to priorities.
Yes, the majority of children in Tacoma are underserved and struggle with the challenges of poverty. Yes, access is painfully limited when it comes to education and public transportation. And yes, we do not, by and large, successfully care-take for our neighbors struggling with homelessness and mental illness.
These are serious civic issues and are issues that the City Council has shown us that they value over very expensive art installations, as they insist that if we want a flower dome, we have to find the money ourselves.
So here are three things:
1. In Tacoma, we have a lot of projects where donors can follow their passion and invest in our future. We should never feel limited on taking on one significant issue at a time. We, as citizens can be both dedicated to better futures for our children and to having a huge, beautiful flower dome. And we can care about and invest in making a difference in many other issues too like addressing the health of Puget Sound, like feeding the hungry, like protecting women’s health rights, like championing access to public transportation. We can do all these things and more at the same time!
2. The majority of the Tacoma citizenry is not wealthy, but when it comes to fundraising, this doesn’t matter. Seriously.
3. We absolutely can find the money necessary to install and maintain this art, it won’t all come from Tacoma, and any local support secured for internationally significant, gigantic public art by an incredibly famous artist just gives us more leverage.
I’m a fundraiser in Tacoma, for Tacoma. This means I meticulously and perilously balance reality with optimism every day. And this is where I have to insist that Whitney is wrong when she states that “our donor pool is only so big.” Here my optimism and reality are united when it comes to knowing what’s possible in a city like Tacoma.
Support for Tacoma does not exclusively come from within our city limits, it never has and it never will. We, the fundraisers, use all the elements of this beautiful city’s potential to encourage investment here from both locals and from potential donors from around the world.
Let’s just look at one of the first potential donors who comes to my mind regarding this project, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, located in New York.
The Warhol Foundation operates on assets of more than $260 million and the average size of their grants is $60,000. The largest grant they ever gave was over $5,000,000 (FoundationSearch.com). My gut – and expertise – tell me that this foundation might possibly be interested in supporting the installation of the world’s largest Warhol. And this is just one foundation.
There are hundreds of foundations who care about public art and Warhol’s legacy, just as there are thousands of individuals who would give to a project honoring Warhol to this magnitude. Don’t forget that of the world’s most expensive paintings, Andy Warhol, along with Van Gogh and Picasso, dominates the list.
When we succeed in raising the funds necessary to cover the Tacoma Dome in Warhol, I bet more than 60% of that funding will come from outside the city of Tacoma.
As a firm believer in the rising tide raises all boats axiom, I know that securing significant donations for one massive public art project will, if stewarded effectively, open donors’ eyes to also give here in support of other passions and needs. Significant investment in the arts will help our civic and social issues. You can hold me to that (since it’s kind of my job to make that happen).
And there’s more to leverage when it comes to making a flowery dome a reality: we see the love and excitement for this project in our local arts scene. From Beautiful Angle to Chandler O’Leary to the Tacoma Art Museum, to the City’s arts administrator, artists and institutions have been celebrating the potential of a Warhol Dome since the early 2000s.
Ultimately, here’s why a project of this magnitude is important: a Warhol Dome will show the world that Tacoma is a city of the arts, a city that encourages and welcomes expression, experimentation, and exploration.
How will a flowery dome do that? Because Tacoma will be the home to the world’s largest Andy Warhol installation. Warhol was transgressive, he ignored and transcended barriers and expectations. He broke rules, challenged authority, investigated and criticized culture, celebrated sexuality, impermanence, and beauty. His legacy is a constant source of inspiration for artists here and around the world.
Let’s make Tacoma the home of the world’s biggest Warhol.
Let’s transcend and challenge.
Let’s bloom to the world as a huge and undeniable beacon for creativity.
I’ll give the last word to the Great Khan as immortalized by Beautiful Angle in 2006:
“One day in the pavilion of Karakorum, the Great Khan himself asked an officer of the Mongol guard what, in the world, could bring the greatest happiness.
‘The open steppe, a clear day, and a swift horse under you,’ responded the officer, ‘and a falcon on your wrist to start up hares.’
‘Nay,’ responded the Khan, his fist raised. ‘To crush your enemies, to see them fall at your feet, to take their horses and goods, and to paint a giant flower on the Tacoma Dome. That is best.'”