The 1,094-foot-long Norwegian Bliss docks in Juneau on April 9 to begin this year’s cruise ship season. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

The 1,094-foot-long Norwegian Bliss docks in Juneau on April 9 to begin this year’s cruise ship season. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

My Turn: Consider the far-reaching and harmful consequences of Saturday cruise ship ban

The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council expresses our strong support for Protect Juneau’s Future, and to urge Juneau’s public to decline to sign the initiative that seeks to ban cruise ships from docking on summer Saturdays and July 4. This proposed measure poses a grave threat to the vibrancy and sustainability of Juneau’s essential arts and cultural environment.

As an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving the rich artistic and cultural heritage of our community, we are deeply concerned about the potential negative impacts of this initiative on local artists, performers and cultural organizations. A significant portion of local artists’ income and engagement with the public stems from events, concerts, art shows, and community gatherings that take place on Saturdays during the peak summer months when cruise ship visitors flock to our city.

On Saturdays alone cruise passengers generated nearly $4 million in sales tax and assorted fees in 2023. These funds support a wide range of public services, including the very programs and facilities that allow our artistic community to thrive. A reduction in this revenue could lead to devastating cuts to future public funding for community arts spaces and cultural events that enrich the lives of both residents and visitors alike.

Moreover, the proposed measure risks evaporating millions of dollars in direct spending from cruise visitors, which sustains countless local businesses, including those run by artists, crafters, and performers who rely on weekend tourist traffic to continue their operations year-round. The loss of this revenue source could force many talented artists and business owners to leave Juneau, depriving our community of their invaluable contributions to our creative landscape.

Juneau’s future as a vibrant, culturally rich city depends on our ability to strike a balance between economic growth and responsible stewardship of our community resources. The proposed initiative, however, risks tipping that delicate balance in a way that could irreparably harm the artistic and cultural fabric of our city.

We implore Juneau’s public to consider the far-reaching consequences of this measure and to decline to sign the petition. By declining to sign, you will be helping to protect the livelihoods of countless artists, musicians, and cultural workers, and bolstering exactly what makes Juneau a place where creativity, expression, and appreciation for the arts can continue to flourish for generations to come.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this critical issue.

• Phil Huebschen is the executive director of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council.

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