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


Chilkat Center lands $86K for upgrades


The Foundation for the Chilkat Center for the Arts last week secured an $86,000 grant from the Rasmuson Foundation to go toward the foundation’s “Light, Sound, Action!” upgrades project.

The project will replace the theater’s lighting, sound and effects systems, as well as its curtains. It will also replace a sound system in the Chilkat Center lobby and dance studio, said the foundation’s vice president, Tara Bicknell.  

“The whole point really is we want to make the Chilkat Center more useful to more users and keep it as a beloved and essential place for the community to gather,” Bicknell said.

The foundation also is hoping to secure an $86,000 grant from the Murdoch Charitable Trust, but it won’t find out about that money until August.

Foundation member Lori Dudzik said the group has been working on fundraising to replace the equipment for several years. “It’s very, very antiquated and obsolete,” she said.

“A lot of it just doesn’t work at all. We have lighting issues and sound issues all of the time, and it’s very sad because everybody says what great acoustics the Chilkat Center has, and then to have the sound system not work is kind of pitiful,” Dudzik said.

The foundation has been independently fundraising to supplement any grants they receive, Dudzik said.

The “Adopt-a-Seat” program and several entertainment events have helped raise money for the “Light, Sound, Action!” project. The Haines Arts Council and Lynn Canal Community Players have also donated proceeds from events to the upgrade project.

Bicknell said the foundation has raised about $30,000 so far, putting total funds at $116,000. If the foundation secures the Murdoch Charitable Trust grant, that will put it in the ballpark of the $200,000 price tag for all the identified improvements.

Project director Tod Sebens spearheaded the “Light, Sound, Action!” program, Bicknell said. “Tod knows the systems really well. He’s done a lot of work to bring it to our attention, and he’ll be a big part in the actual installment,” she said.

Haines Borough Mayor Stephanie Scott said she recalls when Sebens approached her to tell her about the project. “He wanted to write a grant to bring an engineer to town to assess the state of the equipment that was in place. I remember him telling me that he needed a letter of support from me. Nothing else. Nothing more than that. I remember thinking, ‘Oh wow, that’s a long shot.’”

Now, between the foundation and the Alaska Arts Confluence receiving a $217,000 grant from ArtPlace America, two local nonprofits have brought more than $300,000 to Haines in the last week.

“They made it happen,” Scott said. “It’s the way this town works. The people who are passionate rule.”