By Debbie Cockrell – The News Tribune – 10 June 2020
“A bit of welcome economic news was delivered to Tacoma on Wednesday as the city and county slowly start to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Glass Art Society, based in Seattle, has announced that it will host its next international conference, May 19-22, 2021, in Tacoma.
The conference is attended by glass artists, collectors and enthusiasts and is expected to draw 1,200 to 1,500 people from around the world.
This year’s conference was set for Sweden until the pandemic forced it to go virtual.
The work to bring the conference here started in early 2019 through a collaboration including the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Art Museum and Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports, according to Wednesday’s announcement.
For all involved, it made sense to bring the event to Tacoma as the hometown of glass artist Dale Chihuly and the local legacy of the studio glass movement.
“This is so much more than simply winning a bid to host an event,” said Dean Burke, president and CEO of Travel Tacoma – Mt. Rainier Tourism and Sports, in Wednesday’s announcement. “With a topic like glass and a city like Tacoma that understands the medium’s collaborative spirit, it’s that feeling of rightness you get when you walk into a place for the first time, but it feels like coming home.
“It’s a feeling I think we’re going to hear a lot about when we welcome the biggest names in the industry to our city.”
According to Wednesday’s announcement, the conference will include panels, demonstrations, performances and films, as well as lectures and exhibitions from some of the world’s top artists.
2021 “marks the 50th anniversary of the GAS conference, and we’re so excited to be able to celebrate it here in the Pacific Northwest,” said Brandi Clark, executive director of the Glass Art Society.
“It’s really special for Museum of Glass, the downtown museum district, and the city to host the conference in 2021,” said Debbie Lenk, executive director of the Museum of Glass. “Art is at the soul of Tacoma; our artists, makers, studios, and museums have helped shape the city into what it is today.”