Ketchikan, Alaska is a small, island community of about 13,000 people. Nestled in the only North American rain forest, home to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people, Ketchikan is accessible by boat or plane only. Our community is independent, creative, and resourceful, often needing to "make our own" rather than rely on what comes up from the lower 48 states. The isolation, and need to provide for ourselves, has allowed for a highly creative community that nurtures the arts and encourages participation.
The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council (KAAHC) not only provides umbrella services for the many arts organizations and groups in Ketchikan (theater, ballet school, community band, community chorus, bagpipes, a writers group and more), we have a very full schedule of annual programs and events. Our Main Street Gallery is the only fine art gallery in Ketchikan, and one of the best in Alaska, mounting exhibits throughout the year of emerging and established artists. The Gallery's monthly exhibits also include and annual youth exhibit, an open community call for art, and features a curated exhibit of Wearable Art pieces from our spring fundraising event; the Wearable Art Show. KAAHC created the Wearable Art Show runway show in 1986 with about 12 artists and 30 audience members. Today we annually sell out 4 evening shows, featuring just under 60 artists with 200 volunteers, and an audience of 1700. KAAHC's Wearable Art Show has been such a success, communities all across Alaska have modeled similar events in their communities. KAAHC also mounts two arts festivals annually, featuring Ketchikan artists, and two city-wide art walks that feature local commercial galleries. KAAHC's story telling series "Stories at Latitude 56" is modeled after The Moth podcast in which locals tell mostly true stories, live in several events throughout the year. The series culminates in a formal storytelling presentation, with selected story tellers having the opportunity to be mentored for their presentation. Arts Uncorked is a series of classes in which people learn a wide variety of art forms in a relaxed, group setting. Our Spring smART class for youth provides an intense dive into different art forms. KAAHC's performing arts series is a collaborative project with a local producer to bring professional touring musicians to Ketchikan and expose our community to a wide variety of music and musicians. We have several additional strategies to support local artists such as professional development classes, a Teaching Artist Academy for artists to gain tools to go into the schools and share their medium, and assistance with portfolio development and grant writing. KAAHC maintains a community "Arts Calendar" which gathers arts happenings from around Ketchikan into one calendar, enabling the community to plan their every waking moment!
The mission of the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council is to create and promote opportunities for the entire community to experience the arts. Within that mission we strive to educate the community as to the value of the arts, to bring awareness to the beauty of diversity, and to showcase the positive impact a thriving creative industry has on Ketchikan's quality of life.