Centennial Hall, left and the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, center, on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Centennial Hall, left and the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, center, on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Opinion: The new JACC is a sound investment

Here’s the facts.

  • Thursday, September 19, 2019 7:00am
  • Opinion

In reading through some of the comments offered up by members of the community regarding the New JACC project, I have noted a number of misconceptions.

I offer the following clarifications informed by my capacity as program manager for the New JACC project, a role similar to that I performed in the design and construction of the Father Andrew P. Kashevaroff Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum Building.

Let’s talk size first.

One major misconception is the comparative size of the two buildings. In total square footage, they are almost equal: The New JACC‘s 44,592 square feet is only slightly larger than Centennial Hall’s 41,588 square feet. Centennial Hall’s first floor of 36,758 square feet is augmented by 4,830 square feet on the roof dedicated to building mechanical support. In contrast, the first floor the New JACC is smaller, occupying 30,206 square feet. Its second floor adds 10,213 square feet, including a mezzanine in the theater and office rental spaces. There are 3,209 square feet allocated to building mechanical space and the basement provides an additional 964 square feet.

Building redundancies? Not.

In response to input from community members, art groups and professionals in the visitor industry, the architects and Partnership Board have worked to insure that the new building is a complement to, not duplication of, needed spaces as defined by users of both Centennial Hall and the JACC.

The New JACC Community Hall is the same size as the current Armory. There is no theater space in Centennial Hall and there is no commercial kitchen in the New JACC. There is no formal art gallery space in Centennial Hall, nor is there a “Black Box,” a secondary theater or rehearsal space.

The New JACC has theater support spaces such as workshop, green room and dressing rooms while Centennial Hall does not.

The New JACC also has office rental space, as mentioned and an endowment fund for operational cost established and maintained by the Juneau Community Foundation. Centennial Hall does not.

That all said the only redundancy might be the lobby space in either building.

Where will the $4.5 million come from?

There also seems to be some misinformation on where the $4.5 million funds on Ballot Measure 3 originate. The advisory vote on Oct. 1 is to ratify the unanimous decision of the City and Borough Assembly to reallocate sales tax funds to the New JACC project. The ballot proposition 3 clearly states that, if approved, the funds allocated to the New JACC would come from sales taxes currently being collected and not from an increase to property taxes.

A sound investment

Encountering some of the resistance to a new idea for town reminds me of when a small group of folk music enthusiasts went door-to-door to the business community seeking sponsorships for their fledging concept of starting the Alaska Folk Festival. Those visionaries optimistically carried empty coffee cans (#10 size), pitched their idea and were, more often than not, politely (or not so politely) asked to leave the premises.

Gratefully, the Alaska State Museum recognized the opportunity to become a venue in support of performing arts, and for the first few years until the not-for-profit was founded, funded the operation. Now, 44 years later, the Alaska Folk Festival creates the second largest annual infusion of cash dollars to town, just shy of Gold Medal.

The New JACC Project is no different. At its core the project is an investment in community infrastructure that will earn multi-generational benefits if only we give it the support and time to mature.


• Bob Banghart is a Juneau resident and has been involved in developing community cultural facilities and museums in Alaska for over 45 years. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


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