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JAHC - 40 years of success, and growing

Posted: May 5, 2013 - 12:15am

Forty years ago a very exciting thing happened in Alaska’s capital city when some forward-thinking people saw fit to found the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council (JAHC), an organization that has done a tremendous amount to improve the quality of life for all who call Juneau home. JAHC went on to be formally designated by the City & Borough of Juneau (CBJ) Assembly as the Capital City’s arts and culture agency.

JAHC’s mission is to cultivate vibrant arts and cultural opportunities and to lead the way in building a strong, prosperous community where creativity and innovation thrive. Growing and evolving with the passage of time, JAHC continues to pursue its bold mission in a myriad of wonderful ways.

I served on the JAHC Board several years ago, and it was then an incredibly busy organization, sponsoring a panoply of worthy activities touching Juneau residents in a host of different contexts. JAHC regrants funds allocated by the CBJ Assembly to various arts organizations and individual artists.

JAHC presents a season of concerts and other performing arts events throughout the year. In the summer JAHC for many years sponsored ‘Concerts in the Park” at Marine Park downtown, entertaining both locals and visitors and providing many emerging artists with opportunities to share their talents with audiences.

JAHC is highly active in the field of arts education, co-ordinating the Artists-in-Schools program offered by the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA, on which I serve as Chairman) for the Juneau School District (JSD). JAHC has been named a Kennedy Center Partner in Education with the JSD, working to integrate the arts into daily classroom curricula. JAHC sponsors Teaching Artists Academies, developed and piloted in Juneau and since spread across the Last Frontier, to prepare artists to work effectively in school classrooms.

For over a decade JAHC has sponsored ArtShops, after-school and summer art programs for young people at Cedar Park and Geneva Woods, with funds from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. Visiting performing artists frequently do student concerts in Juneau schools in addition to the shows for the public at large. And of course JAHC has for several years co-ordinated and run the statewide Poetry Out Loud memorization and recitation competition for ASCA, culminating in the statewide finals held in Juneau during the legislative session.

In the past few years, JAHC has ambitiously expanded its array of offerings, most visibly by moving from a small downstairs office in Franklin Street to the former National Guard Armory which has been reborn as the Juneau Arts & Culture Center (JACC). On the first Friday of each month the gallery space at the JACC is filled with the creations of Alaskan artists. Throughout the year the JACC serves as host space for events of all types, from private parties to luncheons and trade shows, dances and wine-tasting receptions, and of course arts performances.

Many exciting events are planned to celebrate JAHC’s 40th birthday. On Independence Day there will be a pancake breakfast at the JACC before the parade begins. The actual date of the founding of JAHC was the 27th of July 1973; plans are being made for a celebration on that date, but it is said cake will be served. Additional funds have been obtained to ensure extra-special season of events. This will include the Annual Food Fest at the end of August, followed by a September’s First Friday featuring Sharron Lobaugh, a local artist who served on the very first JAHC Board of directors and Dan Hopson (another former JAHC Board member) playing music and signing his new CD. On the 20th of September JAHC will bring the Boston Brass & Enso Quartet with a show “Notes from the Balcony” celebrating five centuries of William Shakespeare. On the 5th of October we can look forward to Hawaiian guitar virtuoso Keola Beamer, and in November Juneau will welcome Sha Sha Higby, a sculptress/dancer/puppeteer/fabric artist, doing workshops and performances. 2014 will bring the California Guitar Trio and Montreal Guitar Trio performing together, the annual Wearable Art Extravaganza with a theme of “Technicolor”, and a Gospel Workshop and Celebration for Black History Month.

One significant change this coming summer year is that the Concerts at the Park, which over the years have frequently been forced inside due to weather (either the Assembly Chambers or the JACC), will be Concerts at the JACC, at an earlier time from 5:30–7 p.m., outside on the lawn in decent weather and otherwise indoors. And there are even plans for something called “Music on the Fly” a live music series at the airport.

One reason JAHC has flourished and grown over the years is that it is a membership organization run by a dedicated group of volunteers on the Board of Directors. One of the best ways you can help celebrate JAHC’s 40th birthday is by becoming a member if you are not one already, so you are in the loop about all the good things happening and stay close to the action. Learn more about JAHC, and join the fun, by visiting its website at www.jahc.org.

Brown serves as Chairman of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, and is an attorney who lives in Juneau.

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