Willoughby Arts Complex

A pARTnership between Perseverance Theatre (PT) and Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) to pursue a shared facility

A Shared Vision:

Perseverance Theatre (PT) and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) have teamed up in order to build and operate together a single, shared, state of the art facility to house PT and JAHC’s operations, and to provide performance and gallery space for all Juneau’s arts and cultural community to share.

The shared vision for this landmark arts complex is that it is a facility devoted to live performance, exhibits, gatherings, celebrations, work, and creativity. The WAC provides theater and gallery space, meeting rooms, outdoor performance space, and offices for arts and cultural groups. It has a café just off the main lobby and housing on the top floor.

Centered between the Walter Soboleff Center, Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, and the State Libraries, Archives, and Museum building, this new facility will house Perseverance Theatre, the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, and Juneau Jazz & Classics.Willoughby Arts Complex

A Carefully Crafted Complex:

The Willoughby Arts Complex will physically connect to the JACC and extend toward Centennial Hall, abutting its lawn. The WAC becomes the primary home for the JAHC and PT, and provides performance venues for other local arts groups. It expands the JAHC’s ability to serve the community with performances, exhibits, meetings, and cultural events, and allows arts groups to consolidate a number of administrative services. The WAC also encourages cross disciplinary collaborations, and helps provide full time work for theatre technicians. It will becomes Juneau’s versatile and vibrant community center filled with art, drama, music, and inspiration.

Current plans for the WAC include the following components:

  • The current JACC main hall;
  • A 180-199 seat theatre designed for and operated by PT;
  • A 300-350 seat theatre designed for the community performing arts groups and operated by the JAHC;
  • A small, 45 seat flexible theatre space;
  • Outdoor performance space;
  • Rehearsal, classroom, and gallery space;
  • Production space including PT’s full costume shop, and a scene shop for use by other arts groups;
  • Green rooms and dressing rooms for each of the large theatres;
  • Lobby, box office, concession stand, and café;
  • Administrative office space, meeting rooms, and storage space;
  • Up to 15 apartment units on the top floor.

An Urgent Timeline:

The PT facility has far outlived its original anticipated life span. In addition to the cost of maintaining an aging facility, the nature of operations at PT is evolving, and the building no longer is adequate to its present and future needs.

The greater community of Juneau has long held a dream of a building devoted to the arts, one that Alaska’s capital city can boast of. Enthusiasm for, and participation in the arts is at an all-time high. Season ticket holder data and audience participation at various arts performances signal keen interest. Community calendars are chocked full of cultural and arts events. Energetic young people are moving to town filled with ideas, ready to take on important work, and excited by the options Juneau offers. NOW is the time to realize the dreams of the theater staff and patrons, and the larger community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Willoughby Arts Complex Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the pARTnership?  Perseverance Theatre (PT) and Juneau Arts and Humanities Council (JAHC) established the pARTnership to pursue jointly developing, constructing, owning and operating the new WAC building.  The mission of The pARTnership is to develop, construct, and operate the Willoughby Arts Complex.
  • What is the WAC?  The WAC is a privately-built and privately-operated facility, owned by PT, JAHC and the pARTnership, housing JAHC offices and offering gallery and other arts space, gathering and eating places, and spaces for performances of dance, opera and music. It will include PT’s theatre, rehearsal and black box spaces, costume and props shops, and administrative offices. In addition, it may include 15 units of private housing on upper floors.
  • Why is it called the WAC?   JAHC and PT are excited by the CBJ Assembly’s vision for the Willoughby Cultural Corridor which includes a creative neighborhood stretching from the Soboleff Center on Front Street and including the SLAM project. PT and JAHC gave a working name to the building of the Willoughby Arts Complex (WAC) to honor the commitment to that vision of a cultural heart to the Capital City.
  • How big is the WAC?  Design work at this stage is only preliminary. We are currently working with consultants that specialize in performing arts spaces to develop a preliminary list of spaces to be included in the new facility. This work is schedule to be completed in June of 2014.
  • How will the WAC affect parking? The WAC will comply with CBJ parking requirements. Parking for the entire Willoughby District is an issue under discussion between the City and the State, and a District-wide solution is anticipated in the near future. The WAC plans will include required parking. We will work closely with the city and the Willoughby District throughout the design process. Public parking demands for performances will be primarily during non-work hours and will complement current State employee parking requirements.
  • What will the WAC cost to build? The final construction budget is dependent on the design.  The pARTnership is currently working with consultants to determine a preliminary list of spaces to be included in the WAC which will help determine a cost for this project. Design costs, which are the first dollars that must be raised, include fees for architects, theatre design consultants, acoustical engineers, construction estimating, and other experts, and project management are usually around 10% of construction costs.
  • How will the WAC operating expenses be covered? PT and JAHC currently own and pay operating costs for separate facilities, using a combination of tickets, rents, other earned income, and fundraising to cover the expenses. The same combination of revenues will sustain operations in the WAC.
  • Is the WAC a public arts center? The WAC is envisioned as a public/private partnership designed to make the most of Juneau’s existing community assets. It will be a privately built and privately operated facility on land leased from the CBJ, similar to the Dimond Park Field House.
  • Will building one building save money? Yes. One theatre complex will be less costly and more functional than both organizations continuing to operate in stand-alone facilities. Shared public spaces and shared utilities will help reduce expenses while enhancing the offerings of the building. Construction costs of one facility will be lower than building the equivalent facilities in two locations.
  • Why Now?  Two forces make now the time:  The visionary:  with completion of the SLAM and the Soboleff Center, the WAC project offers an opportunity to complete the cultural neighborhood in the heart of Alaska’s Capital. On a practical level, PT’s existing facility opened 30 years ago and was expected to last for20 years; it now urgently needs replacement or major repairs. PT can’t wait much longer. If PT and the JAHC are to collaborate, now is the time.
  • Why joint private ownership? PT and JAHC both have extensive experience owning and operating arts spaces successfully. Given PT’s urgent need to replace its aging physical plant, it just makes sense to team up together. We believe that shared ownership will maximize the commitment of stakeholders in seeing the building completed and operating, as investing in the building will be an investment in PT and JAHC. Private ownership will help us maximize potential investment from private funding sources.

Perseverance Theatre

Perseverance Theatre’s mission is to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans. We value community engagement, professional rigor, and regional voice.