SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Performing Arts Center
By Lallette Kistler


January 14, 2009

Music and dancing! I remember those happy days (nights) at the Fireside. Wouldn't you like to have them again? We can. Help bring song and dance back to the Fireside in a way that the entire family can enjoy, by supporting the Performing Arts Center project. Downtown is the perfect place for a performing arts center. Most performance events take place during the evening hours when parking is not an issue, and during summer days, cruise ship visitors can use the space for meeting and performance space.

This town sorely needs another performance arena. The High School stage was supposed to be a community facility, but it's become a sad joke. Very few dates are available since the space cannot be booked during High School activities. The cost is unaffordable for all but the largest of productions, and smaller productions are forced to cram into local churches.

The Community Chorus has been producing some beautiful concerts with full chorus and orchestra, but it has been difficult having to perform in small venues. Renting the high school is financially out of the question, and the only thing left is a church. The chorus has been bringing in guest musicians that can only stay for the week-end. With time constrains, the small venue, and the need to cover extra expenses, back-to-back performances are necessary, which is utterly exhausting for singers.

The First City Players has been homeless since it was ejected from the Main Street Theater over a decade ago. How it continues is a mystery, and a testament to its importance in this community. They had been using the Plaza for rehearsals and small productions, but were recently forbidden, on short notice, to rehearse large groups after 8:00pm. It's a wonder the fall musical ever came off. Unable to practice on the big stage until a week before the performance, large group numbers, which were crammed into a church basement, were not fully staged until the last minute, another exhausting marathon for performers.

Even with the ordeals of rehearsal and performance space, the arts thrive in Ketchikan. The First City Players is the second most active group in the country for a city of this size. They have been making due, but are near a breaking point. Ketchikan is a highly regarded arts community. No doubt, because of the dark rainy nights that entice artistic diversion. Those children and adults who are not into competitive sports need something to do! Dancing, singing, playing an instrument and acting are great activities that not only enrich the participant but also the audience. Thousands of local audience members can attest to that.

I know of one local resident who fell in love with Ketchikan and jumped (cruise) ship to run a local business. Wouldn't it be nice to have a testament to our vibrant performing arts right down town for visitors to see? The hospital is always looking for skilled nurses and doctors. Have you ever noticed how many doctors and other professionals play in the community band? These kinds of things are important to them. Let's put Ketchikan on the map and become not only a visitor destination, but a residential destination, an artistic destination.

Please support a performing arts center at the old Fireside building. If we can get seed money from cruise ship funds, other grants will fall into place. We will never find a more perfect venue. As a performance arena, the building is worth more than twice as much as it s going for. Let's snatch it up before it is wasted!

Lallette Kistler
Ketchikan AK

Received January 11, 2009 - Published January 14, 2009



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