Benjamin Brown, left, John Pugh and Ronalda Cadiente Brown speak about the New Juneau Arts and Culture Center to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at its weekly luncheon at the Hangar Ballroom on Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Benjamin Brown, left, John Pugh and Ronalda Cadiente Brown speak about the New Juneau Arts and Culture Center to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce at its weekly luncheon at the Hangar Ballroom on Thursday, March 29, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Chamber ‘walks through’ new Juneau Arts and Culture Center

Walking through the New Juneau Arts and Culture Center (JACC) people will notice a welcoming atrium, a casual cafe and a 300-seat theater for performances.

Those at Thursday’s Juneau Chamber of Commerce did just that as representatives from Juneau Art &Humanities Council presented an update on the New JACC, which included a virtual tour, a look at what the facility could mean for the community and a projected timeline.

“When people talk about downtown revitalization, performance arts are part of it,” Benjamin Brown, Marketing &Development at JAHC, said.

Brown pointed out through various surveys and rankings, Juneau is a hub for arts and culture and it needs a facility to accommodate that. The 2016 National Center for Arts Research ranked Juneau in the top-10 of “Most Vibrant Small Arts Communities in the U.S.” Brown and the fellow presenters, John Pugh, member of the New JACC Capital Campaign committee and Ronalda Cadiente Brown, member of New JACC Partnership Board of Directors, all believed the new JACC can push the city even higher on the list.

“The new JACC can move us right there Park City, (Utah),” Benjamin Brown said.

Summit Park — which is where Park City is located — ranks second on the “Most Vibrant Small Arts Communities in the U.S.” list.

The current JACC has been through a lot with 328 days of use and 436 events in 2016 alone. During a video display, members of the community expressed why they wanted to see a new JACC.

“I used to play basketball in the JACC,” Beth Weldon, City and Borough of Juneau Assembly member said. “It still smells like that.”

The structure itself still needs $5 million more funding, but the presenters said with the up-tick in fundraising either from the public or businesses this year, everything is still on track. Already through donations and pledges, individuals have contributed 43 percent of the current amount, according to Brown.

“We are amazed by the outpouring of the community,” Pugh said.

The total project budget is $26 million. The hope is that groundbreaking starts March 1, 2019, according to Bob Banghart, Owner’s Rep and Program Manager for the New JACC. Construction is projected to take approximately 18 months, Banghart said in a phone conservation with the Empire.

Which brings up another part of Thursday’s presentation.

Currently, the CBJ and JAHC are working together on a potential management agreement of Centennial Hall. This agreement, if approved by the Assembly, would last for five years with possibilities of renewals thereafter. The CBJ would have oversight of operational plans, budget, the facility and governance, and daily operations would be handled by the JAHC. This would also allow an easier transition for any events regularly held at the JACC to be moved to Centennial Hall during construction.

“Another good reason to have the joint agreement,” Brown said.

The goal, with the new facility, is to create a facility worthy of the arts and culture support from the Juneau community.

“The important thing is that Juneau has always been a tremendous supporter of the arts,” Brown said. “We want to make sure we have great infrastructure for it.”

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.

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