In 2010, Perseverance Theatre launched the Fourth Decade Plan to secure a future for professional theatre in Alaska by expanding audiences, re-investing in training, and employing more Alaskan theatre artists. The Fourth Decade Fund was established to support action on the plan. By sharing programming and resources between Juneau and Anchorage, Perseverance is now able to create an unprecedented statewide season of plays. Taken together, statewide expansion and investments in artists have increased attendance from under 10,000 seats per year to 25,000 seats per year. The Fourth Decade Fund set a goal of $1,000,000 in working capital to support the plan. The funds raised were used to finance the costs of producing the Juneau and Anchorage seasons while the audience base grows. In January of 2015, Perseverance surpassed the $1,000,000 goal and closed the Fourth Decade Fund. Perseverance Theatre is grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon foundation and the Rasmuson Foundation for their leadership gifts. The theatre is also thankful for major gifts from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, the Atwood Foundation, the Hearst Foundation and the Juneau Community Foundation. The Perseverance Theatre Board of Directors, with the Larry Spencer Memorial Fund, contributed an additional $14,527. The remainder of the gifts was from local businesses and individual donations. Thank you to everyone who made this campaign a success!nnPerseverance Theatre successfully raised well over $1,000,000 during this campaign.

  • Building a Future Company
  • This season, Perseverance Theatre began a multi-year project to build a new Artistic Company, providing another tool to invest in artists, especially actors, living in our state. Our ability to support Alaskan actors and artists with paid work and ongoing training is a key measure of our success. Our new presence in Anchorage offers us a regular connection to a statewide pool of performers, artists, and artisans. For Alaskan theatre artists, Perseverance offers an opportunity to work with nationally-based colleagues from around the country. The first phase of the company began with Perseverance hiring one of our most productive actors, Enrique Bravo, as the 2013-2014 Artistic Company Lead.
  • Developing a Full Theatre Season in Juneau and Anchorage
  • Perseverance Theatre is committed to being an Alaskan regional theatre, serving audiences and artists across the state by providing expanded opportunities and programming. This furthers the theatreu2019s mission to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans. It also strengthens the business model for the theatre, providing increased revenues from ticket sales and individual donors, which will grow the resiliency and vibrancy of the organization.
  • Willoughby Arts Complex
  • Last winter, Perseverance Theatre and the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council decided to pool resources and supporters to create new, first-class, arts and performance center in Alaskau2019s capital city that will build on and nourish a rich arts tradition. The Willoughby Arts Complex (WAC) will include gallery and performance space for both organizations; it will be designed, built, and operated cooperatively. This facility will embody Alaskau2019s deep commitment to the performing arts in our capital city as a place to tell our own stories for each other and the world.
  • Leadership Gifts – $600,000
  • Major Gifts – $279,000
  • Challenge Gifts – $124,900
  • Individual Donors – $73,300
  • Fourth Decade Fund – $1,077,200

Leadership Gifts

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation

Major Gifts

Atwood Foundation
M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
Hearst Foundation
Juneau Community Foundation

Challenge Gifts

Alaskan Brewing Company
Alaska Community Foundation
Alaska Experience Theatre
Alaska Public Media
Altman Rogers & Co
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company
Anchorage Dispatch News
Anchorage Media Group
Anchorage Press
The Boardroom
Charlotte Y. Martin Foundation
The CIRI Foundation
City & Borough of Juneau
Coeur Alaska – Kensington Mine
Driftwood Lodge
ENSTAR Natural Gas
First National Bank Alaska
Hecla Greens Creek Mining Co
Heidi Reifenstein Design
Historic Anchorage Hotel
Juneau Arts & Humanities Council
Juneau Empire
Juneau Radio Center
Lynden Transport
Malia Hayward, State Farm Agent
Municipality of Anchorage
Northland Audiology & Hearing Services
Northrim Bank
NorthWind Architects, LLC
Oscar Gill House
Princess Cruise Lines
Prospector Hotel
Rookery Café
Royal Printing
Shattuck & Grummett
The Skaggs Foundation
Un-Cruise Adventures
Valley Medical Care
Westmark Hotel

By founding Perseverance Theatre, Molly Smith sought to answer this question: Can a professional theatre by, for and about Alaskans, succeed?

In 1979, Perseverance Theatre produced our first play. Pure Gold was commissioned by founder Molly Smith to launch her new theatre company in Alaska’s capital. After a sold-out run to a local audience, Pure Gold toured the state, including performances at Anchorage’s Sydney Laurence Auditorium. That summer, the theatre rented a closed-down bar in Douglas and played for Holland America Line passengers. Later, Perseverance purchased the bar building and launched a 5-play subscription season for Alaskan audiences. In the remote small city of Juneau, growth was rapid: By our tenth anniversary, we had produced several signature Alaskan theatre pieces.

Perseverance Theatre’s first decade was an experiment, with a start-up, entrepreneurial culture. In 1990, as our second decade began, our budget had passed the million dollar mark, and we had launched a professional Alaskan acting company. By the beginning of our third decade, Perseverance’s successes made it a Leading National Theatre according to Doris Duke Foundation. Pure Gold continues to be a model of the work that Perseverance Theatre does and where it finds its audience: a new play by an Alaskan writer, premiered in Juneau, toured to audiences around the state, and marketed to visitors in the summer months.

Today, Perseverance is the most widely known and respected theatre in Alaska, and is well-positioned to build on our name and track record to further our mission to create Alaskan professional theatre. Artistically, Perseverance continues to have great opportunities.

  • Tony-Award-winner Mark Hollman has proposed a new musical about Bigfoot that is just right for Alaska;
  • With support from the Alaska Humanities Forum, we are adapting a theatre piece from a local memoir (The Blue Bear) by a Juneau writer which will include Japanese artists.
  • Two well-regarded new play development labs in New York City (Clubbed Thumb and The Lark) have approached Perseverance about partnering on projects;
  • We are involved in developing a cohort of Alaska Native writers for future production.

Strategically, we have opportunities to strengthen ourselves financially as well:

  • We’re pursuing additional opportunities that could consolidate our objectives in tourism. Main-stage subscribership grew each of the last three years from 360 subscribers to 545, and we’re seeing a similar upward trend with individual donations;
  • We are working with strong partners in Anchorage to explore a plan of regular operations there;
  • In Juneau, we’ve been asked to participate with a consortium of local non-profits in a downtown re-development project that might, if it pencils out, address our long range facility needs while forming institutional relationship with more Alaskan partners.

On the other hand, Perseverance Theatre faces major obstacles to accomplishing our plans. Our Juneau location and Alaska’s geography has made consistent outreach to the rest of the state difficult. Financing a major cultural institution operating predominantly in a remote Alaskan community with a small population (30,000) has been challenging for most of the last thirty years. Economically, the theatre has been fragile for years and has recently been on a decline: measured in real dollars, today we have fewer staff, pay lower fees for artists, and have smaller financial resources than at almost any time in our last 15 years. (See Table 1) This erosion of our capacity is partly due to the national recession, which came at the same time (2008) as Perseverance replaced both our Artistic and Managing Directors. Perseverance experienced a somewhat similar financial decline in 1998, when Founder Molly Smith departed. Our budget has only partly been restored. The long-term trend shows that sustaining a professional scale in a small community is difficult.
Table 1. Perseverance Theatre’s gross revenues from 1982-2015. Last five years projected based on implementing our long range plan.

Our new plan gets ahead of this long-range trend by developing additional audiences for our work while capitalizing on our proven ability to create great theatre for our Juneau audiences. Our goal is to begin our fifth decade in 2020 both artistically and economically vibrant. We have five initiatives to move us forward:

  • Maintain our Juneau subscription season in order to keep creating great Alaskan theatre.
  • Broaden the Alaskan audience for our existing work with a new 4-Show ‘Statewide’ subscription season at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (ACPA) Sydney Laurence Auditorium in Anchorage based on transferring productions developed in Juneau to Anchorage for a second run.
  • Produce for the tourism market in the summer months in order to broaden our audience to include visitors and to offer employment to performers during a time that we are now dormant.
  • Establish an acting company with 4-6 benefited, 12-month positions to perform roles in Juneau, statewide and in tourism, and to train and mentor other performers.
  • Create a training and new-play development institute in Juneau in the summer.

If successful, we will create a Perseverance Theatre with the capacity to reach wider audiences, put more resources into innovative programming tailored to Alaska, and able to employ Alaskan artists at more livable wages.
Table 2 and 3 showing growth in attendance by broadening markets, and attendant growth in pay for artists

If we complete this work, Perseverance Theatre will be more connected to the entire state and better able to bring together artists from across the vast landscape that is Alaska. The dialogue required to work on a statewide scale will enrich Alaska and create a unique kind of regional theatre: one located in a vast state that is still coming to understand and know itself and at the same time still small enough that it can do so through its art.

In other words, a professional theatre by, for and about Alaskans.