Efforts renewed for Warhol flower atop the Tacoma Dome

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The campaign to paint an Andy Warhol flower on the roof of the Tacoma Dome is back in the news again, with a newly launched GoFundMe effort currently underway.

This comes after staff at the Tacoma Dome recently issued another Requests for Proposal (RFP) for a company who could clean the Dome roof – “again,” says longtime Tacoma resident and community supporter Dan Voelpel, who is organizing the fundraising efforts.

“The Dome’s original covering can’t stay clean,” Voelpel said. “Just look at it. All the seams are gritty and grimy. Within months of the Dome opening in 1983, its roof already appeared faded due to dirt having accumulated on it. Dome leaders have explored a lot of cleaning ideas – a giant wand, similar to a windshield wiper; a riding mower with its blades replaced by scrubbers; paint engineered to mimic the ultra-slick lotus leaf so the dirt would simply rinse away. Enough. Let’s recapture our prime directives.”

Also a columnist for South Sound Business Magazine, Voelpel has a unique platform there to publicize all aspects of what is more than a nice decoration for the Dome. It would be the only art installation of its kind in the world, which is quite significant, and up the city’s “curb appeal” like nothing else could.

“Make no mistake about it, this is a business, tourism and economic development initiative,” he told the Tacoma Weekly. “Think about the international interest and tourism that would be generated by placing the Warhol flower on the Dome.” 

In addition to reenergizing the community around the Warhol concept and building momentum, the GoFundMe campaign seeks to raise $10,000 as the seed money necessary for arts organizations in Tacoma to take on the much more robust $5 million fundraising campaign, Voelpel explained. The City of Tacoma has said in the past that it supports the Warhol concept but doesn’t want to fund it with tax dollars.

“While I would support a modest investment by the City for reasons to include further protection of the roof of the Dome (which needs to be improved and protected any
way) and for economic development/marketing Tacoma reasons, I would require the vast majority of the funding be from private foundations (such as the Warhol Foundation), non-profits, individuals and businesses,” said Tacoma City Council member Ryan Mello.  

Mello does think that the Warhol flower initiative is worth working on, saying that it would contribute to the synergy that the city is creating to reinvest in downtown, with the Arts District, Theater District and University of Washington-Tacoma, to name a few.

“We have spent a considerable amount of public and private dollars to use the arts to be the underpinning of reinvestment and renewal of downtown Tacoma – this would contribute to that longstanding initiative. Furthermore, Tacoma Dome is probably the most iconic structure in Tacoma and one that hundreds of thousands of people drive by each day.”

Mello said that impressions are everything and Tacoma continues to need to work to improve the city’s impression for people who do not know Tacoma yet.  

“This is a great city with great neighborhoods, an amazing waterfront, great schools and other assets. So many outsiders still relate Tacoma with the ‘Aroma of Tacoma.’ Initiatives like this can help reframe interest in Tacoma to one of a safe, interesting and attractive place to visit, live and work.”

If the roof redo effort fails to happen after two years, funds would go to Tacoma Creates, the voter-approved initiative to make the arts more accessible to underserved youth.

Voelpel pointed to last year’s boon for local arts when Tacoma voters supported the Tacoma Creates arts initiative on the November ballot with more than 67 percent of the vote in favor of a sales tax increase. “That’s an undeniably clear indication of how the people of Tacoma feel about their support of the arts and access to arts for underserved communities in this city,” he said. “That speaks volumes. With that kind of community support, the arts institutions in town – if they choose to – could easily raise the funds to make the Warhol flower on the Tacoma Dome campaign a reality. We just need to give a little push.”

To make your donation, visit www.gofundme.com/redo-tacoma-dome-roof-with-warhol-flower. To keep up with developments, go to Facebook and “like” www.facebook.com/WarholonTacomaDome.

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