Chamber hears latest on new JACC

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Is the new Juneau Arts and Culture Center closer to reality?

    Organizers insist there is a lot of momentum building for the project. 

    Susan Bell of the McDowell Group presented results of a recent feasibility study that showed the new JACC would make money in only three years.

    She explained a complete analysis was conducted in 2015.  It included interviews with potential users, JACC financial reports and a review of comparable facilities. 

    The current study included interviews with the performing arts community, feed back from cruise lines and tour operators, comments from non-profit organizations and others involved in events production and promotion.

    They considered the usage of the JACC and financial performance, financials for Centennial Hall and facilities in other Alaska communities, and examined other Juneau facilities for things like capacity, rates, attributes and limitations.

    The existing JACC has a lack of seating, poor visibility and acoustics, and is not designed for performances.  They also have lighting, sound and other equipment needs.

    The market analysis took into account the slight drop in population but also the increase in cruise ship passengers.  1.3 million visitors are expected to come to Juneau via cruise ships this year.

    The Willoughby District could also be renamed the Auke Village.

    The performing arts kept facilities busy for 350 days last year.  Perseverance Theater had 94 days, Theater in the Rough 45 days, Juneau Lyric Opera 21, Juneau Jazz and Classics 20 and the JAHC 15 days.  The audience size ranged from 20 to 800.  There were 193 performance days in the market.

    "There is a resounding cry for an appropriate, high-quality facility," she added.

    The new JACC would be used by between 175 and 230 events per year.  There would be 95 theater rental days and rentals of the atrium, patio, gallery, and meeting rooms.

    The operating expenses would cost $280,000 for personnel, with eight positions, a mixture of full and part-time.  Utilities would cost about $110,000 annually.

    In year 3, revenues estimated would reach $570,000 with expenses estimated at $519,000.   In the first year estimated revenue is $466,000.

    Brown said the new JACC would work because of synergies with Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, operating the old JACC with lean cost structure, lower salaries and limited benefits, split cost between several staff positions, a modest rental rate increase, an increase in ticket sales revenue, more revenue from rentals of the office, sound studio and equipment, JAHC fundraisers including Wearable Art, and the fact that the old JACC is turning away business now.

    They now have 17 members on the campaign committee.  The CBJ Public Works Committee has held a series of meetings to discuss the project. 

    Last fall the JACC announced they had raised nearly $1 million.  They received a $750,000 grant from the National Endowment for Humanities, $150,000 from the Anchorage-based Carr Foundation and dozens of individual donations of over $10,000.

    This spring the Coeur Alaska/Kensington Mine agreed to donate $50,000.

    Ben Brown, Marketing Manager said the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council has made money as they manage Centennial Hall. 

    The new capital campaign strategy expects to raise $3.96 million from individuals, $2.64 million from small business, $6.6 million from foundations, $6.6 million from government and $6.6 million from corporations.  104 individuals and businesses have provided $10,000 or more for this facility.

    Of the 500 donors, over 80 percent live in Juneau.   They have reached 20 percent of the goal of $26.4 million.  They have raised close to $5.3 million so far.

    "It is unprecedented for any fund raising effort in southeast Alaska or the last frontier," Brown added.  "We have a lot of momentum and plan to keep that up."

    Some new design concepts have emerged with talk of combining the Centennial Hall remodel with the integration of the new JACC.  One proposal is building the new JACC on the second floor of Centennial Hall.  Another option is an enlarged community hall and a corridor that links the new JACC to Centennial Hall.  Another option is the creation of a town square between the two facilities with the acquisition of a historic airplane.

    Brown said Travel Juneau suggested the second floor of Centennial Hall to try and attract more meetings and conventions.  He said most people don't want to go outside during these conventions and having everything under one roof makes sense when you consider the Juneau weather patterns.

    "There is robust dialogue and a lot of innovative minds working on these issues," Brown added.

    Another consideration is having ample parking in the downtown area.  Brown said they would need about $19 million to break ground.

    Supporters said the project will provide a year-round multi-purpose venue for the community, and will leverage private money with public investment at a ratio of three to one.  They also note the project will create significant construction jobs and expanded economic opportunities for Juneau.

    "There hasn't been a lot of things being built around here.  It is unrealistic to expect state capital dollars anytime in the near future," Brown added.

    In other Chamber announcements;

    Alaska Seaplanes begins the service to Whitehorse on April 23.  They will run flights through September 22.

    A Gin on the Mountain event will be held at the Mt. Roberts Tramway on April 26.

    The Marine Exchange will host an after-hours event on May 9.

    Juneau Youth Hockey announced the 18 and under hockey squad won the state championship at a tournament in Anchorage.  The roster was filled with seniors from the Juneau Douglas High School hockey team.

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