Progress made on performing arts center

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The project organizers said $5 million needs to be raised to keep the project on track for construction beginning in 2019.

    John Pugh was among three speakers who spoke at today's Juneau Chamber of Commerce business round table luncheon.

    "I think as a member of the community I'm a real supporter of the arts, involved in Juneau Jazz and classics.  We know that we need really good venues to have classical music.  We've run out of venues, we'd appreciate better venues to do this.  Its good for out of town groups, and for local kids, music and plays.  it would make a big difference."

    Mr. Pugh praised the generosity of Juneau for the project.  The CBJ provided $1 million to get the project off the ground.  The project budget is $26 million.  88 Juneau residents have donated at least $10,000 to this project.  So far $2.83 million has been raised.  The hope is to get more grants and donations perhaps from national corporations.

    "We have demonstrated to other donors that this community has stepped forward.  We raised over $1 million from just individuals in the community.  I think that gives others the incentives to give."

    Ben Brown said the project is closer to the end than the beginning.  He asked the question is the new Juneau Arts and Culture Center needed?  He gave a video of testimonials of people in Juneau who want the project and see the economic benefits it would bring.

    The building was first built in the 1950s and served as the National Guard Armory.  It also had over 40,000 users in 2016.

    The supporters said the project is a revenue enhancer for the community, a gathering place, will improve the quality of life and help our local arts scene continue to thrive.  Juneau was recently ranked in the top 10 as one of the most vibrant arts communities in the United States.

    Supporters also predict the new facility would spin off new innovation, and provide a shot in the arm for local businesses in the off season.  They predict it could spur other downtown improvements.

    "Every place that has a new performing arts center has seen growth, not just in tourist season, but during performances. People go out to eat, shop, I think it will create some great things in the Willoughby District and downtown," Pugh added.

    The construction budget totals $19 million.  It would pump $10 million into the local economy and through multipliers provide an overall economic impact of $30 million during construction.


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