Our History

Alaska Center for the Performing Arts (ACPA or PAC) began as just a dream.

Created as part of the Project 80s efforts, the PAC first opened its doors in 1988 in the heart of downtown Anchorage. Visionary community leaders believed that the performing arts in Alaska deserved a permanent place they could call home – a world-class facility where the arts and artists could thrive; a place where all Alaskans could come together to experience the joy, inspiration and enrichment the performing arts provide.

The dream became reality nearly thirty-five years later when the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors for the first time.

Sept 1988 Housewarming musicians 964x600
Sept 1988 Housewarming members of the press 964x600

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 were limited to performance spaces such as West High Auditorium, UAA’s Williamson Hall and the Sydney Laurence Auditorium (which was razed during construction of the PAC, save for a piece of the stage tower). The vision began to take shape in the early 1980s with the help of funding from the State of Alaska, a vote of the people and a permanent site location.

Breaking Ground on the Center

Ground was broken for Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in 1985. In 1987, Mayor Tony Knowles convinced local community leader Gregory M. Carr to lead the Board of Directors for the nonprofit organization founded to manage this new facility. Carr accepted the challenge and asked friends, family and many other community leaders to join him. Because of their support and his commitment to the dream of what the facility could bring to the community, the building survived many obstacles and opened in 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.

PAC Construction Gala Photos 14 964x600
PAC Construction Gala Photos 4 964x600
PAC Construction Gala Photos 14 964x600

Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Hardy, Holzman and Pfieffer, stands on a city block bounded on the north and south by 5th and 6th Avenues, respectively, 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 Dena’ina Center and the Egan Convention Center, these facilities comprise the major civic centers in the heart of downtown Anchorage. Close to a world-class museum, numerous restaurants, hotels and shopping, the PAC is the focus of Anchorage’s cultural life!

The PAC is proud host to a number of 1% for Art pieces. During the performance season (September – May), guests can enjoy tours that include a closer look at the collections during the PAC’s Community First Friday programs.

Center Details

Broke Ground


Grand Opening

Dec 15, 1988


Hardy, Holzman and Pfeiffer

Opening Attendance

35,000 patrons


Tony Knowles

Board of Directors, Chair

Gregory M. Carr

1% for Art Pieces

number of pieces

Pictorial History of the PAC