Juneau residents have studied the development of an arts center for over 40 years; a feasibility study was completed by Sheinberg and Associates in 2008. Also in 2008, the update to the CBJ Comprehensive Plan included the following implementing action: 15.1.IA2 Promote the development of a Juneau Performing Arts Center in Downtown Juneau to provide venues for live performances, visual arts, receptions, public meetings, and convention-related presentations.

In 2014, JAHC and Perseverance Theater formed a non-profit, obtained external funding and commissioned a feasibility study for a new arts and culture facility. In 2015, as the sole sponsor of the project, the JAHC Board joined with a robust group of supporters including arts organizations, educators, cultural organizations, patrons and arts appreciators (the Partnership Board) to advance the project. McDowell Group completed an economic feasibility study establishing that this is a viable, sustainable project for Juneau and updated it in 2016.

Performance spaces include a 300-seat theater, a 120-seat event studio and a large community hall suitable for events and performances. Supporting spaces incorporate a sound studio, dressing rooms, conference space, a green room and offices. The main floor will house a visual arts gallery, gift shop, and café, along with outdoor spaces providing links to the Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building and Centennial Hall.
The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) has a proven record of success, but the existing facility is bursting at the seams with events, and venues in Juneau are inadequate and can be difficult to book. The JACC is an old, deteriorating building with sub-standard features; it will be costly to repair and cannot serve the needs of modern events.
The New JACC will put the capital city’s best face forward, will be an economic engine providing jobs and stimulate activity in the arts, in business and in the community. It is “shovel-ready” and will provide local jobs during construction and provide a platform for increased convention, conference and tourism-related activities. Visitors will have a place to meet, view art, performances, shop and experience guided tours of the facility, and gather for an art walk. The building will complement Centennial Hall and offer greater capacity large conventions, meetings and other events.
The center will be owned by the non-profit Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and will be operated, like the current JACC, by the Board and Staff.
The design is near completion. With sufficient funding, the tear-down of the JACC will occur in March 2019; construction is anticipated to last from 18 months to 2 years.
The total project cost is estimated at $26M including funds for an endowment to help offset operations and maintenance costs. Construction costs are estimate at $19M; 80% of construction is anticipated to be local hire.
Parking solutions are being developed cooperatively with City and Borough of Juneau, the State of Alaska and the Mental Health Trust – all landowners in the area. The Willoughby District needs an area-wide parking solution that includes additional on-ground spaces and shared use in the short term, and a parking structure in the long term. Potential development of parking elsewhere in the district as well as improvements to the SOB garage can also increase parking inventory. Fortunately, relining the existing parking spaces in the area will recoup the majority of the spaces lost to construction.
Income will be generated through ticket sales, production expenses, rental or lease of office space, rental for conventions, meetings, community events, performances and café revenues. The $26 million overall cost includes funding for an endowment to be applied to operating and maintenance expenses. Also, the Juneau Community Foundation is currently administering a $1 million endowment dedicated to the operation and maintenance of the Center.
It will provide 45-50 construction jobs. The majority of the $19M construction budget will go directly into the local economy. Local hire and local sub-contractors will prevail for the duration of construction. Service sector jobs will increase to support an increased range of activities. Arts centers across the nation have consistently generated economic activity, revitalized communities and attracted new business. The New JACC will too.
We will enjoy a fully supported, professional venue for community gatherings, conferences, theater, music dance, youth programming and visual arts. All of these will increase hotel stays and associated boosts to Juneau business economy. A first-class community arts center can attract and retain families and prompt year-round visitors. The New JACC will help fulfill the goals of the Willoughby District, with the potential to attract additional investment to the area.
Prior to design, many community members actively participated in guided meetings to provide a clear picture of the needs, dreams and wishes they hold for this facility. The March 2016 architect-selection process was community-based, involving public meetings at each phase. Fifty people, selected to represent a wide spectrum of the community, participated in the final architect selection. Most recently, the design process included five community sessions as well as focus groups for stakeholders in performance, acoustics, sound and visual arts.
Staffing a larger facility will add two additional full-time and two additional part-time positions. A café will provide one or two additional positions. Tickets sales, rental income and production spending will be substantial. With increased capacity and programming, the new JACC will sponsor more events and generate increased activity and continue to expand the use of Centennial Hall for conferences and other events. The old JACC was in use 352 out of 366 days in 2016. The new JACC will replicate these numbers.
CBJ has contributed the land beneath the planned Center in the form of a long-term lease. In 2012, the JAHC received $1 million in CBJ sales tax revenue to help “kick start” the project; the JAHC is requesting additional city funding to help in leveraging private, non-profit and foundation funding sources. The New JACC will be funded primarily with money raised from a variety of non-public sources.
Nancy DeCherney and staff are actively working on interim space and expect programs to continue in alternative venues during the construction period. Contact JAHC staff if you have an event to schedule.
  • Local arts organizations and community user groups
  • Local businesses and service providers
  • A diverse group of local residents, both as donors and volunteers
  • Community leaders
  • Local trade unions
  • Educators
  • The City and Borough of Juneau
  • The Juneau Community Foundation
  • Sealaska Heritage Institute
  • Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
  • Juneau Economic Development Council
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