Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Group wins $217K grant for signs, art


New signs and window displays will be going up around Haines in the next 18 months, funded by a $217,000 grant awarded this week to the Haines-based Alaska Arts Confluence by ArtPlace America.

Projects funded by the grant will include professionally-designed window displays on Main Street and wayside interpretive walking tour signs in Fort Seward. The grant also will provide seed funds for a Native-carved totem pole to be displayed at the Soboleff-McRae Veterans Village and Wellness Center.

The confluence competed with 1,270 letters of inquiry in the last ArtPlace America grant cycle. It was named one of 97 finalists for funding in February. Fifty-five grants were made to organizations in 79 communities nationwide this year.

Confluence board president Carol Tuynman, who compiled the grant application, said she is “honored, thrilled and really humbled” by the award.

“It’s about people working together to solve problems, and we’ve chosen to address the issue of downtown revitalization with art,” Tuynman said. “This same dynamic can be used for any issue in the community.”

When the confluence applied for the 18-month grant, it was a completely volunteer organization with almost no budget, Tuynman said.

A $2,500 community arts development grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and a $1,300 grant from the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation gave Tuynman “the springboard to take the risk of applying for the ArtPlace America grant.”

Beginning July 1, a team of designers will create 25 new Main Street window displays of original work by local artists and artisans.

Tuynman said the confluence will be putting out a request for proposals for artwork for the installations soon. The request also will ask for proposals regarding new interpretive signage for a walking tour of historic Fort Seward.

Haines resident Deb Marshall, a board member of the group since its inception in 2006, said she is “in absolute awe” of Tuynman’s dedication to the project.

“She has infused a new life into the organization,” Marshall said. “This grant is the accumulation of that effort. It is absolute proof of how much work she has been doing to bring money into Haines so we can really benefit financially the artists who live here.”

The group is planning a three-day stakeholder workshop July 15-17 at Fort Seward for the signage project. The workshop will provide sessions on different components of designing and producing effective wayside interpretive signs, including historic interpretation, themes, visitor experience, sign placement, pedestrian access and parking.

The workshop also will solicit input from the community. “We’re doing modules so people can come to the parts that are relevant to them,” Tuynman said.

Port Chilkoot Co. president Lee Heinmiller said the new interpretive signage will be a boon to the fort. Heinmiller recently looked at the old signs up in the fort and realized some of the information they contained wasn’t even correct.

“I think it will be a real asset to get the signage both corrected and more complete in the information it provides,” Heinmiller said.

Main Street business owner Mike Ward said the projects supported by the grant will enhance the public perception of Haines.

Ward collaborated with Tuynman last spring to install art displays in 13 Howsers windows. “I enjoy working with (Tuynman). She’s organized. If anybody could do it, she could,” Ward said.

“That’s an impressive amount of money,” he added.

Mayor Stephanie Scott said she wasn’t necessarily surprised that the group secured the grant, “because of the enormous community support that was demonstrated when the reviewer (from ArtPlace America) came to town.”

Clayton Campbell conducted the site visit April 8 and met with community leaders and members of the public in Fort Seward. “It included people from all walks of life,” Scott said.

“They got the message that we are an arts community and we want to use our arts to bring an economic vitality to the town,” she said.

The Juneau Willoughby Arts Center received $250,000 during this year’s cycle, the only other community in Alaska to receive a grant.

ArtPlace America describes itself as a “collaboration of leading national and regional foundations committed to accelerating creative placemaking” by “reinventing downtowns and neighborhoods.”