Responses from Karen Crane Candidate for Mayor
To the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council February 17, 2016
PDF Version (KarenCrane)
Describe your involvement/participation in the arts and cultural activities in Juneau. How many times per year do you attend an arts and cultural event? What types of events do you attend?
First let me say that my husband, Dan Fruits, is an artist and the arts are an integral part of our lives. We are active in the arts community and attend many First Friday, Symphony, Juneau Jazz and Classics, JAHC concerts and events, Perseverance Theater, Theater in the Rough and other offerings. We support Museum events and we donate to several arts groups.
The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council’s Strategic Action Plan identifies six major goals to direct its work in the community. Have you read the plan? Yes
What are your thoughts about the plan? The JAHC has grown enormously in the last few years and the Strategic Plan is proof of the growth. It sets a clear vision for the organization and its role in the community.
What role does the arts and culture sector play in building a healthy economy for Juneau?
The latest figures show the art community is estimated to account for over 1,000 jobs in Juneau. This sector has real potential for economic growth. The support for arts and culture in Juneau is exceptional. The arts community supports both direct and indirect economic activity with direct support for artists and arts organizations and indirect support to hotels, restaurants and retail businesses. The arts community also contributes significantly to the quality of life in Juneau.
What ideas do you have for creating long‐term sustainable funding for the arts and culture programs/institutions in Juneau?
Creation of the Willoughby District and a new performing arts center will help to anchor art institutions in Juneau. The new Walter Sobeloff Center has a long term plan to make Juneau the recognized center for Northwest Art and plans to grow the art market, both of which will help to strengthen Juneau’s place as a major art center. That recognition will spill over and help other sectors of the art community.
The economy and funding are going to be difficult for all sectors over the next few years and those entities that work to communicate and cooperate will have the best chance of success. We need to encourage local business, entrepreneurs and innovation. I want to see local
government partner with the private sector to encourage innovation. The arts community is one sector than can grow during this economic downturn.
The CBJ Comprehensive Plan identifies a Cultural Campus in the Willoughby District, to include an arts and culture center. The Council plans to build the Willoughby Arts Complex, to fulfill this part of the Plan. Do you support this project? If so, how will you support it in your role as the Mayor?
I support the project and have demonstrated that support. I supported inclusion of planning and development money for the project on the last 1% ballot issue. On the Assembly, I supported development of the Willoughby District through the planning process. While the money for the project will have to be raised privately, I will, as Mayor, provide what support the CBJ may provide by signifying support for grants and private and foundation dollars. There are a number of outstanding issues that the JAHC must settle with CBJ before moving forward and I will work to have them quickly resolved.
How important is arts education for Juneau’s children? How familiar are you with the arts education initiatives that the Council, in collaboration with the Juneau School District, the University of Alaska SE and other arts organizations, work on to provide arts education in our schools?
I am familiar with all of the programs listed. I was glad to see the JAHC step forward and take on the Artist in the Schools Program and I believe it has been successful. We know that children who are exposed to music, visual arts, theatre and dance do better with reading, writing and math. Multiple studies show that the arts are important to educational development and should be broadly incorporated across the curriculum. We know that involvement with music helps with math and visual‐spatial skills. Dance and drama help foster self‐confidence and social skills as well as expression, creativity and collaboration. The visual arts foster imagination and broaden thinking and expression. The JAHC and the Kennedy Center’s Arts for Any Given Child program have worked to strengthen art within the Juneau School District. I was on the local Any Given Child Committee when it formed. The Cargill Foundation Artful Teaching Program will expand training opportunities for teachers and help to establish the broad vision of art in the curriculum. I have served as a judge for the Poetry Out Loud program. I have also supported the JAMM program and have been excited to see it grow.
Other comments for the art community?
My husband and I left Juneau in 2003 to care for my ailing parents. One of the primary reasons we returned to Juneau in 2007 was the vibrant and supportive arts community here. I think we can do more to brand Juneau as an arts community and as Mayor it is an effort I would actively promote.