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History of the Ketchikan Community Center for the Arts
by Jean I. Bartos


September 21, 2004

Although the members of the Ketchikan Community Center for the Arts (KCCA) Steering Committee are dismayed by the recent Borough Assembly vote that reversed the Borough's commitment to secure property for the Arts Center, we appreciate the statements of support from the Mayor, Assemblymembers, and hundreds of people in the community. We continue to work to plan, fund, and build the Art Center. During recent weeks, some people have entered the community dialogue without the full benefit of knowing the history of the project, so I would like to highlight a couple of things, based on my 5 years as a volunteer committee member.

The Arts Center Steering Committee was first formed in 1999 to look into the possibility of purchasing the Coliseum Theater. After that site was found unsuitable for a number of reasons, we placed a "Request for Proposals" advertisement, and carefully evaluated 6 locations. There were three main criteria that became our priorities and guided our decision

  • safe and easy accessibility (especially for children)
  • creating an anchor downtown year-around, and
  • the capability of earning extra income in the summer from theater productions for cruise passengers.

In 2002, we entered into a purchase agreement with Mr. Dawson and for Lot 10A at the intersection of Mill and Bawden Streets. We applied to the Borough for an economic development grant. The Borough suggested the possibility of contributing property instead of dollars. Granting agencies want to see a level of local government support in facilities such as this, and this is a great way for the Borough to show the community s support to outside funders.

It took two years of evaluating different sites and consulting with the community to establish Lot 10A as the best possible location. Changing locations at this point would set us back years in the process toward a facility. Lot 10A downtown is ideal for providing a different kind of entertainment for tourists and therefore income for supporting the Art Center. A melodrama such as Fish Pirate's Daughter, could enhance the scope of activities available to our visitors, and the project is endorsed by the Visitors Bureau because it strengthens Ketchikan as a destination. And most important, having the arts center downtown is something that Ketchikan residents really need - a vibrant year-round attraction that benefits the local community.

If you aren't familiar with the broad reach of the arts in our community, it's happening all around you - the Pioneer Home, the elementary schools, the 7000 people at the Blueberry Arts Festival, the 1000's of people who've studied dance at KTB, the 16,000 performance tickets that were sold this year, the scholarships that are available. We ask for funding from City and Borough for a portion of our operating budget - that funding enables us to attract monies from sources outside of Ketchikan. They want to see local government support. Thousands of volunteer hours contribute to keeping our costs down, and are helpful in obtaining grants.

The Arts Center Committee has held several public meetings over the past five years. We've had information booths at the Blueberry Festival, Winter Arts Faire, and First City Expo. Currently we meet twice/month. These meetings are open to the public. If you have questions, please call the Arts Council at 225-2211 or any member of the KCCA Steering Committee.


Jean I. Bartos
Ketchikan, AK - USA


Jean Bartos is on the Steering Committee of the KCCA, has been on the KAAHC Board of Directors since 1989, and was involved in the Arts & Crafts Guild.


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