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Assembly delays decision on funding new arts center

City will discuss funding with Alaska Committee

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The Assembly tabled a decision Monday to allocate $25,000 toward a new performing arts center until it decides on the source of the funding.

Assembly members support a center but disagree on how much the city should allocate.

City Manager Rod Swope suggested taking the money from the Better Capital Fund, but that money is earmarked for capitol-related projects often used by the Alaska Committee. The Assembly plans to discuss the allocation and other issues when it meets with the Alaska Committee at 7 a.m. today in the Assembly chambers.

Mayor Bruce Botelho wanted to allocate money against the 2004 marine passenger fees. But Swope said performing arts center officials made a weak argument last week about how the center could be tied to tourism. The city already gets enough criticism on how it uses marine passenger fees, he said.

Assembly member Jeannie Johnson favors a center, but suggested that the city allocate $20,000 and have the remaining $5,000 come from the community. Johnson also opposes using marine passenger fees, she said, and received complaints from constituents about applying them toward a center. But Assembly member Marc Wheeler contended that arts officials needed money before they could seek outside funding. The private sector will have plenty of opportunity to donate later, Jim Powell added.

Eric Kueffner, chairman of the Mayor's Task Force for the Development of a Performing Arts Center, and Juneau Arts and Humanities Council Executive Director Sybil Davis appeared before the Assembly last week to present a November 2003 interim report on the center and ask for seed money.

Kueffner and Davis would use the $25,000 to create a presentation packet and schematic drawings they could take to potential donors, they said.

The center is estimated to cost $37 million and projected to create $152,000 a year in revenue, according to the report. It would be at the National Guard Armory because of its proximity to Centennial Hall.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.



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