Tacoma’s TUPAC tries to give back by hosting ballet in Hilltop neighborhood

The organization works to provide a space for the youth of the community to explore the arts and express their creativity.

TACOMA, Wash. – Olivia James Brieson has loved to dance and has done so for as long as she can remember.

This weekend, Olivia will be able to show off her skills at the Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center, or TUPAC.

“It’s always been my little heart to just dance,” she exclaims.

The community center presents a ballet entitled NOIR BLACK NOIR. The ballet features TUPAC students like Olivia, along with routines by black choreographers and music written by black composers.

Klair Etheridge, executive director of TUPAC, said the center gives residents of Tacoma’s hilltop community an opportunity to explore the arts and learn about past innovators. Etheridge believes this education is vital for the youth of Hilltop.

“If kids and even the general population don’t know the wonderful things they can do, they pretty much stay where they are,” she said. “You have to have an idea of ​​what you can achieve.”

Etheridge said the goal is to make the center and its programs as accessible as possible, offer scholarships to students, and set price caps on event tickets.

These goals can complicate the funding of the center.

Etheridge recalled a grant she applied for that already required her to have 40% of the center’s total budget. Ethridge said the total budget to operate TUPAC is $5 million, and that raising 40% of that money before the deadline is nearly impossible.

“Get to 40% of $5 million in no time?” asks Etheridge. “The application was opened on May 3rd and is due on June 23rd. Unless you’re a large nonprofit with a solid bank account, we’re pretty much kicked out of the park. We’re working as hard as we can to get to 40%, but it’s a struggle.”

There was a time when the center almost lost its crucial funding. However, after community members and city council members spoke out in favor of keeping the center running, TUPAC is now getting the money it needs from the Tacoma Housing Authority.

“Tacoma has not invested in the Hilltop in the way it historically could and should have done,” said April Black, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. “This is a time for us to support and fund this much-needed organization and continue to maintain the fabric of this community.”

As long as TUPAC’s doors stay open, Olivia will have a place to dance to her heart’s content.

“Here you can take risks, and kids growing up in this neighborhood can learn to take risks and find out what they love to do, what they want to do and what they dream of doing,” Olivia said. “When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a black ballerina and a black dancer in general. And now that I’m here, I can manage to be a little dancer.”

The ballet is free to the public and takes place this Saturday and Sunday from 3pm. Visit tacomaupac.org for more information.


https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/tacoma/tacomas-tupac-hosting-ballet-hilltop/281-a0fa8e8d-8478-4e61-ba4c-d50e2ca19a9b Tacoma’s TUPAC tries to give back by hosting ballet in Hilltop neighborhood

Alley Einstein

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