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Effort underway to make Juneau a major arts capital

Sealaska Heritage Institute has begun construction on its Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus. With an expected completion of the arts campus by fall 2021, Sealaska Heritage Institute’s goal is to make Juneau the “Northwest arts capital of the world” through highlighting the Indigenous culture that has been in Southeast Alaska for more than 10,000 years.

The campus will consist of indoor and outdoor spaces for artists to create art pieces – such as totem poles and canoes – as well as traditional classrooms and instructional areas. The campus will also allocate specific spaces for performances, Native art markets and more.

The art campus will expand opportunities for Alaska Native and Northwest Coast artists to perpetuate the ancient art practices of the Indigenous culture of the area and help educate the public about the continued evolution of these traditions.

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events.

Sealaska Heritage also conducts scientific, and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

The campus, which will encompass approximately 6,000 square feet, will house indoor and outdoor  space for artists to make monumental Northwest Coast art pieces, such as totem poles and canoes; classrooms for art programming and instruction in areas such as basketry and textile weaving and print making; and space for performances, Native art markets, an art library, artists-in-residence, faculty, and public gatherings.

Instruction will be offered for both non-credit and credit for students seeking art degrees through SHI partners, the University of Alaska Southeast and the Institute of American Indian Arts.  It will also have capabilities for distance learning.