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Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. (PAC) is a non-profit organization contracted by the Municipality of Anchorage to manage the Center. The PAC hosts producing and presenting organizations, schedules building use, provides production management and technical expertise, sells tickets, and provides services for more than 240,000 patrons who enjoy the facility annually.
The PAC opened its doors to the public in 1988. The facility was built as part of Project 80's, along with the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, Egan Civic and Convention Center, Sullivan Arena and Z.J. Loussac Library. The 2018/2019 performance season marks the PAC’s 30th Anniversary.
One of the PAC’s main functions is to bring community together. As a downtown landmark the facility is not only a beautiful structure against the skyline, but also a place where people come to have life-changing experiences, every day! The PAC is dedicated to providing opportunities for the community to enjoy this facility through a diverse season programmed by its 10 resident companies and other users, in addition to various annual sponsored programs and community events.
The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts began as just a dream. It was the dream of community leaders who believed that the performing arts in Alaska needed a permanent place they could call home. The world-class facility they envisioned was a place where the performing arts and artists could thrive, and where all Alaskans could come together to experience the joy, inspiration and enrichment that the performing arts provide. So began the dream, which became reality nearly thirty-five years later when the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors for the first time.
Beginning in the 1960s (20 years prior to the opening of the Center), local arts organizations began advocating in earnest for a performing arts center located in Anchorage. Prior to the Center's opening, performing arts groups had all used performance spaces such as West High Auditorium, the University's Williamson Hall and the Sydney Laurence Auditorium (which except for a piece of the stage tower was razed for construction of the Center). Finally in the early eighties, funding from the State of Alaska, a vote of the people, and a site location helped their vision take shape.
In the 1980s, ground was broken for the Alaska PAC in 1985. In 1987 Mayor Tony Knowles convinced local community leader, Gregory M. Carr, to lead the Board of Director for the non-profit organization founded to manage this new facility. Greg accepted the challenge and asked friends, family and many other community leaders to join him. Because of their help and his commitment to the dream of what the facility could bring the community, the building survived many obstacles to open in September 1988. The Discovery Theatre and Sydney Laurence Theatre opened on September 10, 1988, with an attendance of over 35,000 patrons. The opening of the Atwood Concert Hall and the Grand Opening of the entire facility was celebrated on December 15, 1988, with a gala performance featuring Jay Leno, Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra.
Although very busy and much appreciated by the community now, the Alaska PAC was not built without controversy. Originally estimated to cost $40 million, by the time the building celebrated its Grand Opening, the cost had swelled to $70 million with some parts of the building still unfinished. The facility suffered from a controversy over its naming, inaccessibility to the disabled, a leaking roof, a serious downturn in the economy and misunderstandings over interior features, such as the poppy carpet. There was even an offer to buy the Alaska PAC for conversion into a gambling casino!
Controversy aside, the Alaska PAC quickly become a very popular and well-utilized facility, even in its first year of operation. In its first full season (1989-90) over 89,000 patrons attended a variety of events at the Center, and these figures have steadily increased. Ten years later, annual attendance figures hovered above 240,000 patrons. Almost twenty years later, over 560,000 patrons have attended performances, conferences, meetings and other events at the Center, thanks primarily to the Center's Resident Companies.
Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Hardy, Holzman and Pfieffer, stand on a city block bounded on the south and north by 6th and 5th Avenues and on the west by G Street. To the east, the property abuts a second city block designated as Town Square Park. Together with the newly developed Dena'ina Center and the Egan Convention Center, these facilities are the major civic center in the heart of downtown Anchorage. Close to restaurants, hotels and shopping, it is the focus of Anchorage's cultural life!
Within weeks of opening the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in 1988, the box office was overwhelmed with maintaining the tens of thousands of hard tickets for its several performances. At that time, tickets were pre-printed for each performance and then set on the counters and the shelves of the box office. As each patron ordered tickets, they were pulled from the box of tickets for the desired performance, marked to reflect the actual price charged and then stubbed and either handed to the patron, mailed or placed in will call. Reconciling sales from day-to-day required counting receipts then counting stubs from all sold tickets as well as counting all unsold ticket inventory. Although this had been the time-honored method for ticketing events since tickets were invented, the process was arduous and riddled with error.
In September 1988, Carr-Gottstein Foods Co. (CGF) bid for and was awarded an exclusive ticket services contract for the George M Sullivan Sports Arena and the University of Alaska Anchorage Athletic Department. With an extensive communication network already in place throughout the State of Alaska, CGF was able to quickly establish a chain of computerized ticket outlets enabled to sell ticket inventory at Carr's Quality Center locations throughout Anchorage, Kenai, Palmer and Wasilla. This ticketing service, CARRS TIX, made "next best" available seats simultaneously available at the venue and all CARRS TIX outlets. Gone were the days of ticket buyers queuing up outside the venue hours before an event on-sale, or running from outlet to outlet trying to find who had the best, if any, ticket inventory.
In January 1989, the Alaska PAC contracted CARRS TIX to computerize its box office operation and to sell all its ticket inventory via their network of computerized ticketing outlets. In August 1989, CARRS TIX entered into a concessionaire agreement with the Alaska PAC taking over all box office operations. Through July 2005 all ticketing for the Alaska PAC was handled by non-the Alaska PAC employees. The administrative office for CARRS TIX was located in the CGF office building. In addition to maintaining ticket outlets and training grocery associates to sell tickets throughout southcentral Alaska, CARRS TIX staffed and operated the box office as well as a call center at the Center.
In April 1999, CFG was purchased by Safeway, Inc., one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America based on sales. As a result, the operation of CARRS TIX was now overseen by a company headquartered in Pleasanton, California. By the summer of 2001, Safeway, Inc., decided to sell CARRS TIX to Tickets.com headquartered in Costa Mesa, California. Alaskan event tickets could now be purchased online at Tickets.com. However, sifting through the multitude of events offered throughout the United States was a difficult process; and online seat selection was exclusively "best available." Before long, Tickets.com closed the call center in Alaska and routed all phone sales through their three call centers located in the lower 48 on the east and west coasts, as well as the Midwest. Ticketing seemed to be moving further and further away from Alaska; and as a result, patrons felt alienated by the purchasing process.
In 2003, Tickets.com decided to stop selling events in Alaska's venues outside the big four: the Center, Carlson Center, Egan Center and Sullivan Arena. Many local promoters who had relied on CARRS TIX for years were suddenly forced to find new ticketing solutions. A few individual events, such as the Alaska State Fair, were retained by Tickets.com due to their higher earning potential, but not many events qualified for this exception.
Due to expire in 2004 were the contract between Tickets.com and the Center, and between Tickets.com and SMG of Alaska, Inc., which managed the Carlson Center, Egan Center and Sullivan Arena since April 2001. In May 2004, SMG severed their relationship with Tickets.com and contracted with Ticketmaster for exclusive rights to their ticketing services. Fred Meyer soon joined Ticketmaster as an outlet partner for the Alaska market. The Alaska PAC extended their contract to June 2005 in order to finish the 2004-2005 performance season and to consider their options for future ticketing.
Then, in June 2005, the Alaska PAC decided to create and operate its own computerized ticketing service. This new service, CenterTix, was dedicated to serving all performing arts promoters in southcentral Alaska, many of whom had been jettisoned by Tickets.com. Although CenterTix opened without an outlet partner, several features of the new ticketing service guaranteed its success. First, it employed Alaskans to serve their fellow Alaskans by reopening the call center at the Center. Second, the Alaska PAC selected ShoWare as its ticketing software, thus enabling patrons to purchase tickets online and to select their own seats. And finally, CenterTix and the Alaska PAC were outfitted with an access control system to allow patrons to print their own tickets at home.
In 2006, CenterTix printed 182,490 tickets for 800 performances of 180 different events. Of the tickets sold by CenterTix, 52% were purchased online at CenterTix.net. A savvy 34,579 patrons printed their tickets at home.
In 2006, 12% of the tickets produced by CenterTix were for events outside of the Center. CenterTix ticketed events in such diverse venues as the Bunker in Kincaid Park, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, and Williamson Auditorium. Several established promoters in southcentral Alaska have chosen CenterTix for their ticketing needs; promoters such as the Alaska Chamber Singers, Cyrano's Theatre Company, Sitka Summer Music Festival, UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, Whistling Swan Productions, and many more who present performing arts events outside the Alaska PAC are selling their tickets through CenterTix.