Arts and culture are a vital part of a strong community. (Don’t believe it? Nationwide, more people participate in arts activities than in sports.)

And the South Sound’s vibrant arts scene — from makers to museums — is central to what makes it a great place to live and a good place to do business. Tacoma’s abundance of arts is part of what led Sunset magazine to name it one of 20 game-changing places to live, and the city’s Theater and Museum Districts draw attention and visitors.

We at South Sound Together want to see our region build on this strength — to raise South Sound’s profile and boost its economy and quality of life. That’s why we funded efforts by the City of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality and the Arts & Culture Coalition of Pierce County to learn about what arts and culture mean to our community and to increase participation in arts and related activities.

Researchers conducted community conversations and talked to representatives of arts organizations, schools, Metro Parks and more.

Among the themes that emerged:

• There’s an opportunity to get more young people involved in arts and culture. The number of young families in Pierce County is growing, and many people in the South Sound want to see more after-school and summer arts programs for children and teens.

• Arts, culture and related activities were key in the revitalization of Tacoma, and they’re seen as important to maintaining a healthy and thriving downtown.

• Our region stands to gain a lot by attracting more visitors to appreciate our artful abundance. More than one quarter of those who take in our region’s arts events live outside the county, and those coming from a distance spend 53 percent more than local arts aficionados.

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