A Brief History of Arts Underground
In 2004, then Executive Director of the Yukon Arts Centre (YAC), Chris Dray and board member, Mary-Jane Warshawski approached the Hougen Group of Companies with a vision to create an arts and heritage facility accessible to arts groups, artists and the community. Rolf and Marg Hougen have a long history of community involvement and are long-time supporters of YAC. The Hougens lent their enthusiastic support to the project, offering to house the facility on Main Street in the lower level of the Hougen Centre.
Dray then set out to find an arts group willing to invest in the project, and so YAS became involved. YAC and YAS partnered to pool resources in terms of knowledge and experience to develop the infrastructure, programming and services that would be accessed through Arts Underground, with YAS administering the facility itself.
In addition to visual arts, Mr. Hougen felt it was essential to include a space to showcase Yukon heritage. Thus, FOYAS and MacBride Museum were brought on board as programming partners to curate exhibitions of heritage photographs in a special gallery devoted to that purpose, now known as the Hougen Heritage Gallery.
Arts Underground opened its doors in July of 2005 when the Yukon Art Society signed a 5-year rent- and utility-free lease agreement with the Hougen Group of Companies. The Hougen Group raised its commitment to $1,000,000 in May 2008 and to $1,500,000 in December 2012, ensuring that Arts Underground will continue to build the Yukon arts and heritage communities into the next decade.