Alaska Center for the Performing Arts
History and museums
The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is a performance venue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Opened in 1988, it entertains over 200,000 patrons annually, and consists of three theaters:
Resident companies include the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, the Anchorage Opera (Alaska's only professional opera company), the Alaska Dance Theatre, the Alaska Junior Theater, the Anchorage Concert Association, and the Anchorage Concert Chorus.
The block that the ACPA sits on was originally designated in the original Anchorage townsite as the location of Anchorage's public schools. When schools began being built away from the townsite boundaries starting in the 1950s, largely through the creation of the Anchorage Independent School District and later the Greater Anchorage Area Borough, the existing school building on that block eventually became the City Hall annex and a community gymnasium. The Sydney Laurence Auditorium, the ACPA's direct forerunner, was also built on this block. The Laurence Auditorium was perhaps best known as the site of the Prudhoe Bay oil lease sale in 1969, conducted by Alaska's state government under then-Gov. Keith Miller. Project 80s, started under the mayorship of George Sullivan and largely spearheaded under his successor, Tony Knowles, saw the replacement of those two buildings with the ACPA.
Building the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts was perhaps the most controversial undertaking of Knowles's 6-year tenure as mayor, largely due to the doubling of the original $35 million cost estimate by the completion of construction. Mayor Tom Fink, who took office after Knowles, threatened to defund the center over price overruns. The design of the building was criticized for lacking a drop-off, and for entrances on the wrong side of one-way streets. Even the proposed name of the center invited controversy: the Anchorage Assembly's decision to name the center after Martin Luther King Jr. was overturned by voters.