Assembly asked to contribute to Sealaska Heritage Institute project

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Sealaska Heritage Institute requested the Assembly consider a $1.5 million grant for the arts campus.

    President Dr. Rosita Worl gave a presentation on the arts campus and its economic impacts.

    The campus would measure approximately 6,000 square feet, with indoor and outdoor space for working artists, classroom space, an art library, and capabilities for distance learning.

    There would also be space for performances and gatherings, Native Art markets and artists-in-residence areas.  There would be five monumental bronze masks representing Alaska's major cultural groups called "Faces of Alaska."

    The goals for the campus are to help ensure the survival and enhancement of ancient art forms and practices, support Native artists, offer a space where the public can learn about Alaska Native and Northwest Coast cultures, and enhance cross-cultural understanding.

    The facility would also help establish Juneau as the Northwest Coast art capital and economic engine for the region.  It currently has an annual economic impact of $58 million.

    Students would also be able to earn college credit, high school credits and dual credits for both high school and college.

    Dr. Worl said it will help Juneau with downtown revitalization, increase pride in the city, create a new workforce, improve science and research, attract visiting scholars, diversify the visitor experience, provide opportunities for local residents, and enhance the relationship Sealaska has with the University of Alaska Southeast and local schools.

    Worl said cultural tourism is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the travel industry.

    Sealaska Heritage Institute had a $10.4 million impact on the Alaska economy in 2018.  That included $9.2 million in Juneau for operational spending and Celebration.  SHI had a $4 million payroll, and $2.1 million was spent during Celebration,  The event attracted more than 5,000 people and included about 2,635 visitors.  SHI employs 85 people, and employs more than 150 contractors.

    The economic impact is expected to increase in 2020.  They will have a budget of $18 million and pay $340,000 in sales and bed taxes.  They will support 160 jobs and provide an overall economic impact of $24 million.

    Sealaska Heritage Institute received a $5.6 million federal grant last fall and has raised 80 percent of its funding goals.  The National Parks Service, the US Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts are among the donors for this project.

    The groundbreaking for the project is expected in June.  Construction is expected to take 18 months.  Construction will generate $5.6 million in worker salaries.

    SHI also provided $3.1 million to the Juneau School District and $4.4 million to UAS during 2018.

    Worl said they request $750,000 in this year's budget and $750,000 in the CBJ budget for fiscal year 2022.

    The plan includes an underground parking lot.

    The request for funding was referred to the CBJ Assembly Finance Committee.

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