SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



White Cliff YES! We all need a place to play!
By Tom LeCompte


September 23, 2006

I have read many letters lately that seem to think this whole White Cliff idea is some kind of a knee jerk reaction by the groups involved.

The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council has been on a dedicated search for a facility for the last seven years minimum and the idea has been in the minds of everyone inolved for much longer.

For at least twelve years the Seniors have been looking for a new home. A larger space allows them to provide more and better service to this fastest growing segment of our society.

The Ketchikan Theatre Ballet serves a couple hundred young ladies (and men) each year, teaching a variety of styles of dance from jazz and tap to formal ballet. we have all experienced their wonderful productions over the years. Ask a member parent what that costs. Their board feels being at White Cliff is preferable to the very high rents they currently pay.

First City Players ( I am a Board of Governors member) has had a stated goal of finding a home for OVER 40 YEARS. First City Players is the2ND MOST HIGHLY RATED COMMUNITY THEATRE IN AMERICA. This distinction is awarded based on our venues, amount of funding we do (and don't) get to produce plays, vocal music, and also our youth invovlement. (Elizabeth Nelson can provide more info for those interested.)

The Main Street Theatre was a cute little box, but the space was totally inadequate for long term usage. Going to Kayhi will always be necessary for the great musicals we put on.....Oklahoma, Chicago, Fiddler on the Roof, Camelot,Peter Pan, Music Man, South Pacific, etc etc...... but our working costs there tripled recently. So even when we have hundreds of men, women and children in the cast, orchestra, and crew, the costs of the production (in the thousands) makes even breaking even a challenge at times.

SO.....we need a place to produce our smaller plays which we still do in excellent style. High costs at Kayhi, along with paying production rights, costs of set building, etc, actually threaten our existence over the long term. (And we work very well with Kayhi and the staff there.) We even rent storage for our sets , scenery, and props eleven miles North of town because no storage is available/affordable in town. The White Cliff Center has storage built into the design.

The Arts Council and Gallery space will also be a tenant of the site, and studios for artists, space for art classes, and gallery display space are in the design.

Lest we forget...approximately 50 full time equivalent jobs are provided by the Arts community here in Ketchikan. These artists, many of whom teach classes as well, also need a place to utilize and display their talents. Our local hospital even uses the active arts community as a recruiting tool

NOW all this didn't just happen. The White Cliff Center has been a focus for these groups for a couple years. Thousands of hours of planning, conceptualizing, and designing have been spent by all the groups and the architechts. The plans have been available, meetings have been publicly held, and comments have been solicited for over a year.

NONE of these groups could afford to do this project without working together. No one gets in for free. Substantial amounts of the budgets of all these groups will still go to rent/leases and utility/operating costs. we would just have a home together.

As a former teacher, coach, and Activities co-ordinator, I support all the endeavors for children be it softball, swimming, dance or theatre. All these activities have their home places.

If you need more info, access the KAAHC and take a look at the project, it's a big concept and interesting design.

It's time for the Arts Community to get a place to play.

Pleas join me in VOTING YES on October 3rd!

Tom LeCompte
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: "Voting taxpaying semiretired visitor industry employee who reads and thinks."




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Ketchikan, Alaska