A recently unveiled McDowell Group study shows a proposed New Juneau Arts & Culture Center operating in the black by its third year, and Thursday more was shared about how that conclusion was reached.
Susan Bell with the consulting firm McDowell Group said the figures were reached after reviewing years of Juneau Arts & Culture Center finances, interviewing members of Juneau’s arts community, nonprofits and others involved in events, production and promotion, and building on previous research done by the firm.
“I think it’s a very rigorous analysis,” Bell said.
Her presentation was part of the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon.
The end result was a feasibility study that showed a New JACC with a positive cash flow of $51,000 by its third year of operations.
Bell said the cash flow estimates were done using mid-case scenario numbers and reflected things such as a projected 95 theater rentals per year, increased event space rentals, an increase in rental rates and limits on other local venues.
In addition to the explanation of the study, Ben Brown, marketing and development staff for Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, and Katherine Heumann, executive director for the New JACC, shared some news about the push for the project, including an overview of fundraising in the past year.
Brown said so far just less than $5.3 million has been raised toward the project, which is expected to cost $26.4 million.
“We’re at about 20 percent of the $26.4 million budget,” he said. “
Some highlights from the past year of fundraising Brown mentioned included 750,000 from National Endowment for Humanities, $150,000 from Anchorage-based Carr Foundation, and a $50,000 donation from Coeur Alaska/Kensington Mine pending a match by donors.
Brown said that amount was matched, and the funds will soon be presented and said the fundraising success so far has been exceptional.
“This is certainly unprecedented not only across Southeast Alaska, but all across the Last Frontier,” Brown said.
He also discussed hopes for public funding for the project.
“What we’re looking for in terms of public investment is no more than a quarter of the total,” Brown said. “We’re bringing, I think, the best value proposition we can to the table,” he added.
Heumann discussed ways the New JACC could work hand-in-hand with renovations to Centennial Hall, the conference center near the JACC that is managed by the JAHC.
“That’s some of the head scratching we’ve been doing lately,” Heumann said.
All options depicted the two buildings as being connected in some way, which has been an idea that’s been discussed since last year.
“The standard now is people don’t want to leave a building,” Brown said of conference space. “They want it to be all one closed dome like Vegas.”
One design would include expanded community room and lobby space with a corridor connecting the two buildings, another idea would feature “significantly” expanded lobby or display space and create what was described as a “town square”connection between the two buildings.
The last idea was the recently broached concept of single building that combines the New JACC with a revamped Centennial Hall.
Brown said that last concept could present challenges by forcing the community to do without either facility while the new building is built, and it would also do away with some features of the proposed New JACC that was the subject of the feasibility study.
“We want to make sure we keep all of those features of the New JACC that are going to be revenue generating for simultaneous, multiple events because otherwise we’re getting onto thin ice of not being able to make accurate revenue projections,” Brown said.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.