Since 1972, the Sitka Summer Music Festival has brought world-class professional classical musicians to Alaska. They stay for days and sometimes weeks performing in Sitka, Anchorage, and remote villages of the state. Often, these musicians share their talents and expertise for free or extremely reduced fees in exchange for an experience of Alaska. Through the generosity of these musicians and the dedicated support of volunteers, staff, and patrons, we have built a statewide reputation and tradition for artistic excellence.
For over forty years, these achievements all happened without a permanent home. Sheldon Jackson College – specifically Stevenson Hall – historically housed Festival artists in their ideal downtown location. In the aftermath of the college’s bankruptcy, and prior to the purchase of Stevenson Hall, the Festival had to piece together its basic needs: reliable housing for Festival musicians; rehearsal space and social settings for visiting artists; administrative and storage space; and a safe home for a Steinway piano and music library. Guest housing alone was costing up to $25,000 per year for only 4-6 weeks of events, to say nothing of the cost of office and storage rental.
In 2015 The Festival purchased Stevenson Hall – the only National Historic Landmark building that was separated from the core campus – with the help of generous supporters. But that was only the first step. With your support for a significant remodel, Stevenson Hall can provide an ideal combination of year-round residential, administrative, and social spaces for the Festival.
Our plans for Stevenson Hall’s 6,000 square feet include an addition of two bedrooms for a total of eleven – each with a private attached bathroom – and including three on the main floor that will accommodate guests who can’t manage stairs. There is space for two rehearsal rooms (one of which can become a small recital space with an audience of up to 50), an upgraded kitchen for guests and patrons, improved offices for Festival staff and volunteers, adequate storage, and public restrooms. The renovation will secure and slightly expand the building infrastructure, update the interior, and bring the building to compliance with codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Alaska Arts Southeast, the Sitka Sound Science Center, and the Alaska Department of Libraries and Museums now own other campus buildings. The Festival is a natural partner in this community effort to revitalize the campus as a center for arts and culture for residents and visitors alike.
A renovated Stevenson Hall is a sound investment for the future of classical music in Alaska. The remodeled Stevenson Hall allows us to develop more innovative programs for musical education, enrichment, and exploration. Our vision includes intensive seminars for the next generation of virtuosos; focused rehearsal time and respite for professional musicians; and a new Young Artist Development Series. Having a statewide headquarters enables the Festival to send more touring performers to the far reaches of the state. A renovated Stevenson Hall leads to more world-class chamber music for Alaska.