NEWS_SHI launches campaign to build arts campus, receives $5.6 million grant

NEWS_SHI launches campaign to build arts campus, receives $5.6 million grant

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Campus to be public space for perpetuating, experiencing Alaska Native art

Sept. 18, 2019

(Website) (Brochure) (Donor Levels)

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) today officially launched its fundraising campaign to build a Native arts campus at Heritage Square, kicking off what will become a preeminent cultural and educational space in downtown Juneau.

The Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus is phase two of SHI’s vision to make Juneau the Northwest Coast arts capital of the world and to designate Northwest Coast art a national treasure.

SHI this week received word that it received a federal grant of more than $5.6 million for the $12 million project, which, along with donations and grants from other sources, puts the project at 70 percent toward its funding goal.

“We are thrilled to officially kick off the fundraising campaign for our arts campus, which is a major component of our vision to make Juneau the Northwest Coast arts capital of the world,” said SHI President Rosita Worl. “Our campus will be a major step toward perpetuating Alaska’s Native arts for Native Peoples’ personal and ceremonial use as well as for the general public.”

As with the Walter Soboleff Building, the names of people who donate $25 or more will be engraved at the campus as founding donors. Donor levels and benefits and more information about the campus are available at

The space, currently the Sealaska parking lot, is directly across the street from SHI’s Walter Soboleff Building, which was built during phase one and, since it opened in 2015, has helped establish Juneau as a hub for cultural restoration projects and efforts to sustain our country’s rich cultural diversity.

Sealaska committed the lot to SHI in 2018 for the campus and, through the project, parking will move underground, opening a new cultural space for Juneau residents and visitors at a prime location.

The campus will include indoor and outdoor spaces for artists to make monumental pieces, such as totem poles and canoes; performing arts and gatherings; and Native art markets. The campus will also have classrooms for art instruction, an art library and space for artists-in-residence.

The campus will include a totem pole and five monumental bronze masks representing Alaska’s major cultural groups called “Faces of Alaska.” The street and plaza will also include artistic designs tying them to the Walter Soboleff Building and Heritage Square.

SHI will also develop and offer e-learning courses on Native art through the campus that provide options to earn high school, college and dual credits or to take the classes for no credits. 

SHI’s goals for the campus are to expand Alaska Native and Northwest Coast art programming to ensure perpetuation of these ancient art forms, which are unique in the world and include some practices that are endangered; support Native artists through art markets; and to offer a space where the general public can learn about Alaska Native and Northwest Coast cultures and art forms, enhancing cross-cultural understanding in the community, state and nation.

The campus will also contribute to creative and sustainable economies for individual artists and Alaska’s rural communities.

The goal is to break ground on the project during Celebration 2020, which is scheduled June 10-13. The project will take an estimated 18 months to complete.

With the $5.6 million grant, SHI has raised approximately $8.5 million in funds and commitments of land. Major donors so far include Sealaska, the U.S. Dept. of Education, the National Park Service, the National Endowment for the Arts and a foundation that prefers anonymity.

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. SHI also conducts social 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.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,

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