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Out North Contemporary Art House records

Guide to the Out North Contemporary Art House records

Collection number: HMC-1089.
Creator: Out North Contemporary Art House.
Title: Out North Contemporary Art House records.
Dates: 1985-2011.
Volume of collection: 16.4 cubic feet.
Language of materials: Collection materials are in English.
Collection summary: Records of Anchorage theater and art house that showcases performance art related to underrepresented groups and social justice.

Organizational note:
Out North (ON) Arts and Humanities was founded in 1985 by Gene Dugan and Arctic Moon Stage Company members. Out North was created in response to a statewide survey of the gay and lesbian community. Survey respondents observed a lack of positive portrayals of the gay and lesbian community in the media. It began with the successful run of My Blue Heaven, a comedy about two lesbian homesteaders written by Jane Chambers. In May of 1985, Out North became incorporated. Jay Brause joined Out North in 1990. Together, Gene Dugan and Jay Brause were Out North’s co-directors till they left in 2006. Mike Heulsman, Scott Turner Schofield, and Dawnell Smith consecutively served as Out North directors from 2007 through 2012.

With the closing of the Alaska Repertory Theater, Out North changed their name to Out North Theater Company and expanded their mission to become “a community-based professional theater” in 1989. ON went through another name change in 1993 when it became the Out North Contemporary Art House. The change came at a time when Out North broadened their mission to providing a space in which artists of underrepresented groups could share and express their point of view.  From 2002-2011, ON was a VSA affiliate and was sometimes referred to as VSA Arts Out North Theater or VSA Alaska.

In 1994, ON joined the National Performance Network (NPN) and premiered its “Under 30” annual showcase of local performance art. Through NPN, ON brought up noteworthy productions and performing artists, many of whom provided workshops and mentorships for local artists. Out North also supported theater and arts education for youth by providng after school programs and summer camps. In 1991, Out North began working with McGlaughlin Youth Center and their programs expanded to include Clark and Wendler Middle School in the mid-1990s. They developed a theater summer camp called ONSTAGE, Out North Students Artists Gaining Experience, in 1996.

Through the years, Out North experienced controversy and acclaim. In 1992, Out North sued the Anchorage Municipality for the right to place ads for their production of Fierce Love by Pomo Afro Homos on city buses and won. In recognition of their victory, ON received multiple national free speech awards from foundations such as the Rockefeller, Warhol, Nathan Cummings, Robert Sterling Clark, and the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation. In 2011, ON was recognized as “One of the 40 Heroes of Constitutional Rights” by the ACLU. ON received numerous awards for the quality of their work as well, including an award for Alaska Governor’s Award for the Arts (1996), Best Live Theatre from the Anchorage Daily News (1997), and the Anchorage Mayor’s Arts Award in Youth Arts Education (2006). In 2010 they received the 2010 Visionary Award from Hope Community Resources and a 2010 Star Award from the Anchorage School Business Partnerships.

Collection description:
A majority of the collection relates to Out North productions. Records include include programs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, digital files on zip disks, and production posters. The collection also contains records related to projects, such as ONSTAGE, Asian Culture Night, the Ship Creek Arts Space, Grandview building files, fundraising files, and legal files.

Arrangement: The collection remains in the order it was deposited in the Archives.

Digitized copies: This collection has not been digitized. For information about obtaining digital copies, please contact Archives and Special Collections.

Use restrictions: Digital files on zip disks are currently inaccessible.

Rights note: Materials in the collection are subject to copyright restrictions. Please contact the Archives for more information.

Preferred citation: Out North Contemporary Art House records, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Works used in preparation of inventory:

“About Us.” Out North. Accessed October 26, 2012. http://www.outnorth.org/about/

“Alaska- Out North Contemporary Art House.” VSA arts: Affiliates. Posted 2003. Accessed October 26, 2012. http://www.studioc2.com/vsastatic/x338.html

Cassidy, Kevin. “Alaskan Grassroots Organizing: An interview with Out North’s Gene Dugan and Jay Brause.” Alaska Humanity News. Posted April/May 2006. Accessed November 15, 2011. http://www.humanitynews.net/index.php/main/more/alaskan_grassroots_organizing/index.php

Stadem, Catherine. “Chapter 9: Out of the Closet, into the Spotlight: Out North.” Stages: A History of Theater in Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage: 2006.

Separated materials: Personal materials of Jay Brause and Gene Dugan not specific to Out North were moved to the Jay K. Brause and Gene Dugan papers.

Related materials: For more collections related to theater in Alaska, please visit our Performing Arts research guide.

Archives and Special Collections also holds the papers of longtime co-directors Jay Brause and Gene Dugan: Jay K. Brause and Gene Dugan papers; 1977-2006, HMC-1216.

Acquisition note: A deed of gift was signed by Michael Huelsman, Executive Director, in 2010. The collection was presented to the archives in 2011.

Processing information:
This collection was described by Mariecris Gatlabayan in 2011. The box list and index was created by Gabrielle Barnett who was funded by an Alaska Humanities Forum We the People grant. In 2023 Gwen Higgins reboxed and consolidated the collection, and updated the finding aid and index to reflect the changes.

Container list:

Box # Description Date
1 Season files 1-6 1985-1991
2 Season files 7-10 (AKPIRG Follies files in box 20) 1990-1995
3 Season files 11-13 1995-1998
4 Season files 13-15 1998-2000
5 Season files 16-18 2000-2003
6 Season files 18-23 2003-2007
7 Season files 23-26 2007-2011
7 AKPRIG Follies 1991-1994
7 Overflow public relations files 2003-2006
7-8 Photographic prints and negatives undated
9 Slides undated
9 Youth programs files 1993-2007
9-10 Art/housing development files: Ship Creek and “Art Space,” artist housing 2001-2003
Oversize folder 1 Thompson Avenue house relocation site plans 1998 June 2
10 Art space research, artist housing research 2008, undated
10 Surveys, self-studies, planning studies 1993-2004
10-11 Anchorage School District lawsuit 1999-2003
11 Free speech, funding, and legal issues 1998-2000
11 Censorship and funding controversy files 1992-1998
11 Governor’s Award 1996
11 Capital campaign and board meeting minutes. 1995-2003
11 Fundraising files 1992-2003
11 Grandview/building documents. 1991
12 Sweet sixteen exhibit materials. 1994-2009
12 Asian Culture Night records binder 1992-1996
12 Gene Dugan’s research files, notes, correspondence. Includes scripts 2005, undated
12 Zip disks: backup disks and graphics 1997, undated
13-14 Audiocassettes undated
15 Oversize photographs of Out North productions. Some  mounted on foam core 1985-1993
Oversize folder 2 Autographed posters 1994-2005, undated
Oversize folder 2 Unsorted posters 1992, 2010, undated
Oversize folder 2 Out North exhibit and timeline created by Gabrielle Barnett and K.N. Goodrich. 2011
16 Sorted posters by date undated
17 Under 30 foam core mounted posters 2001-2009
18 Under 30: Russell and Carr materials undated
18 Ship Creek/Art Space: plans, maps, and technical drawings undated

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