Juneau has always been an artistic and culturally rich community, from the early days of the Auke Kwan and Taku Kwan Tlingit people to their descendants today, and for more recent residents since the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century.
Over 40 years ago the City & Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Comprehensive Plan recognized the need for a new Performing Arts Center (PAC). The Mayor’s Performing Arts Center (PAC) Commission was formed in 2004, and spent several years considering the need for a dedicated arts and culture facility. This process included community meetings and interviews with arts organizations likely to use the New JACC. The PAC Commission in 2008 recommended forming a group to conduct a capital campaign. The PAC Commission report envisioned the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council (JAHC) as the entity that would one day run a new PAC. In 2008, the CBJ Comprehensive Plan was updated to include the following: 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 joined together to create a new non-profit corporation which commissioned a feasibility study for a New Juneau Arts & Culture Center (JACC). While Perseverance Theatre continues to support the New JACC, their mission took them in another direction. In 2015, JAHC joined with a robust group of supporters including arts organizations, educators, cultural organizations, patrons and arts appreciators to form the non-profit Partnership, Inc. to lead and manage fundraising and construction. Juneau’s widely-respected McDowell Group completed the economic feasibility study, updated in 2016, confirming that the New JACC is a viable and sustainable project for Juneau.
The plans for the New JACC’s performance spaces include a state-of-the-art 300-seat Performing Arts Theater, a 100-seat “black-box” Event Studio, and a Community Hall larger than the existing JACC main hall suitable for the widest variety of events, gatherings, and performances. Supporting spaces will include a sound studio, dressing rooms, a scene assembly shop, prop and other theatrical storage, conference space, a green room, and offices. The main floor will be centered around a welcoming atrium suitable for multiple uses, and will feature an Art Gallery, a Gift Shop, and a Café. On the Whittier Street side there will be an indoor-outdoor courtyard that harmonizes with the Andrew P. Kashevaroff (APK) State Library, Archives & Museum Building.
A number of enhancements to the current plans for the New JACC are being considered. Possible improvements include an enclosed corridor linking the New JACC to Centennial Hall to maximize joint use of the two facilities on a year-round basis. The Community Hall may be enlarged to allow for better marketing to groups interested in holding conventions and meeting in Juneau which require large amounts of flat floor space for booths. These enhancements would help integrate Centennial Hall and the New JACC into a seamless joint facility that provides the greatest efficiency and marketability.
JAHC is the official arts agency of Alaska’s Capital City and has a proven record of success. The existing JACC managed by JAHC is bursting at the seams with events, and other venues in Juneau are inadequate and difficult to book. The Old JACC is a deteriorating building with sub-standard features; it would be prohibitively costly to repair and simply cannot serve the current and future needs of the community. The Old JACC was used 352 out of 366 days in 2016, a usage rate of almost 93%, which shows how much the community needs the New JACC, and also how it will be a sustainable and revenue-generating project. Juneau is the only capital city in the United States without a dedicated arts & culture facility, relying on the repurposed old National Guard Armory, the Old JACC, to meet the need for a facility of this kind.
Many different new parking options for the Willoughby District are being worked on co-operatively with the major landowners in neighborhood: CBJ, the State of Alaska, and the Mental Health Trust Authority. An area-wide parking solution, including new spaces, shared use in the short term, and a new parking structure in the longer term. New parking spaces may become available nearby and enhancements to parking facilities like the SOB and APK are being discussed. Simply relining the parking spaces in the existing lots will recover the majority of spaces lost to construction.
The New JACC will be an economically stimulating activity in the arts, business, and the community. The New JACC is a “shovel-ready” project which will provide much-needed local construction jobs. Once built and running, the New JACC will be a platform for increased convention, conference and tourism-related activities. Residents and visitors will have a dedicated, purpose-built place to meet, view art, enjoy performances, shop, and hold events of all kinds. The New JACC will complement the adjacent Centennial Hall by offering greater capacity for large conventions, meetings, performances, and other events, many of which are currently infeasible due to space constraints. Juneau is acknowledged nationally for its artistic and cultural vibrancy, and was ranked sixth in the nation on the Creative Vitality Index (CVI) at the end of 2017. The New JACC will be available for use by all sorts of entities, including local, state, and federal government, for-profit and non-profit businesses, individuals, families, and any one else who wants to take advantage of this new community asset.
The land on which the Old JACC sits as well as the building are owned by CBJ, and the New JACC will be built on this same site. The New JACC will be operated by the non-profit JAHC, under the direction of the JAHC Board of Trustees and managed by JAHC staff. CBJ also owns Centennial Hall and delegated management of Juneau’s Civic & Convention Center to JAHC in the summer of 2018.
The design process for the New JACC has seen substantial progress, with final design elements still under consideration. Continued progress with the New JACC capital campaign is likely to see demolition of the Old JACC after Celebration in 2020, which will be followed by the construction of the New JACC, taking from 18 months to 2 years.
The total project cost for the New JACC is currently estimated at $26 million. Construction costs are expected to be $19 million and 80% of construction jobs are expected to be filled locally. Construction and other projects costs may change to reflect alternations to the project to accommodate the stated needs of the community and user groups.
Operating income will be generated through ticket sales, payments for productions, lease of office space, rental for conventions, meetings, community events, and performances and Art Gallery, Art Shop, and Café revenues. Also, the Juneau Community Foundation is currently administering a $1 million endowment dedicated to the operation and maintenance of the New JACC. A study performed by the widely-respected McDowell Group estimates that the New JACC will achieve self-sustaining status within three years after operations begin.
During construction, the New JACC will provide 45-50 construction jobs. The majority of the estimated $19 million construction budget will flow directly into the local economy. Local hire and the use of local sub-contractors will be the priority for the life of the construction project. More service-sector jobs will be created and supported by the increased range and level of activities at the New JACC. Arts centers across the nation are proven generators of economic activity, and help revitalize neighborhoods and attract new businesses. On average, $57.8 million is spent in a given year by artists, arts organizations, and audiences in Southeast Alaska and the New JACC will provide benefits to Alaska’s Capital City and the region.
Juneau will enjoy a fully supported, purpose-built professional venue for community gatherings, conferences, theater, music, dance, youth programming and visual arts. All of these activities will increase hotel stays, restaurant business, and other expenditures boosting Juneau’s economy. The positive economic effects flowing from the New JACC will help Juneau attract and retain families, entice more visitors throughout the year, and increase spending by those who come to Juneau. The New JACC will help fulfill CBJ’s long-term goals for revitalizing the Willoughby District and attracting additional investment to the area.
Before the formal design phase, many community members actively participated in guided meetings to provide the best possible picture of the needs, dreams and wishes they hold for the New JACC. 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. Later phases of the design process included five well-attended community sessions and many focus groups for stakeholders in performance, acoustics, sound, and visual arts. Comments and suggestions from all persons interested in the New JACC are still being sought and welcomed by the Partnership and JAHC.
Staffing a larger facility will add two additional full-time and two additional part-time positions to the JAHC staff. The Café will separately create additional new work opportunities. Tickets sales, rental income, Art Gallery and Gift Shop sales and production spending will be substantial. With increased capacity and programming, the New JACC will sponsor more events, generate increased activity, and continue to expand use of Centennial Hall for conferences and other events. The existing JACC was in use 352 out of 366 days in 2016, and the New JACC is expected to surpass this level of use.
CBJ owns the land on which the New JACC will be built. In 2012, CBJ allocated $1 million in sales tax revenue to JAHC to provide key early-phase funding for the New JACC project. CBJ transferred management of Centennial Hall to JAHC in July 2018, resulting in additional CBJ support for JAHC staff and operations. CBJ’s investments in the New JACC to date includes helping the capital campaign leverage an array of private, non-profit and foundation funding sources. Other examples of CBJ assets built or improved with a combination of public and private funds include Eaglecrest Ski Area and the Treadwell Ice Arena. The New JACC will be funded primarily with money from a variety of non-public sources with limited investment of public funds, projected to be no more than 30% of the overall project budget.
The plans for demolishing the Old JACC will reflect other components of planning and implementing the project. In light of recent developments and timeline updates, JAHC is accepting rental requests for the Old JACC through June 2020. Demolition of the Old JACC and construction of the New JACC is currently estimated to follow Celebration in June 2020. All bookings will be accommodated and JAHC staff will take all necessary steps to find suitable space for all users of the JACC and Centennial Hall.
- Over 1850 individuals, couples, and families who have signed the Statement of Support
- Many donors to the New JACC Builders’ Campaign
- City & Borough of Juneau
- Juneau Community Foundation
- Sealaska Heritage Institute
- Central Council of Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
- Juneau Economic Development Council
- Downtown Business Association
- Juneau Jazz & Classics
- Central Council Tlingit Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
- Juneau Economic Development Council
- Alaska Youth Choir
- Juneau Alaska Music Matters
- Sons of Norway
- Juneau Symphony Orchestra
- Girl Scouts
- Other Juneau arts organizations and community user groups
- Other Juneau businesses and service providers, community leaders, trade unions, and educators