TACOMA NEON WARS

In 1984, the Tacoma, Washington, City Council voted to accept the proposal of artist Stephen Antonakos for a $280,000 neon sculpture to be placed in the new Tacoma Dome sports and convention facility. The artwork would be paid for with funds from the city’s one-percent-for-art law, which mandated that one percent of the costs of municipal construction projects be spent on public art. Seven months later, the people of Tacoma voted to remove the sculpture. A year after the anti-neon vote, the public repealed the one percent law by a ballot referendum. Part A of the case ends at the point when the Tacoma City Council must decide whether to uphold its one percent law. Part B describes the city’s competition for dome artwork, and Part C chronicles the political campaign waged against the artwork, as well as the efforts of the city council to resolve the crisis. The video exhibit allows students to see the neon sculpture. It includes public hearings both before and after the sculpture is installed in the Tacoma Dome, as well as the grand unveiling itself.

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