Thursday, September 26, 2002

Three years ago, the Hogan Family Foundation rescued the show after Kodak pulled its sponsorship. But foundation spokesman Gary Hogan said uncertainties in the tourism market make the $400,000 annual expenditure too big. No new sponsors have come forward to support the dance institution. Here, the troupe celebrated the Kodak Hula Show's 60th anniversary in 1997.

Waikiki hula
show ends run

What began as the Kodak Hula
Show ends its 65-year run as
the Hogan family cuts off funds

By Tim Ruel

After a three-year reprieve, the show is over today for the former Kodak Hula Show, a tradition in Waikiki since 1937.

The Hogan Family Foundation, which rescued the show from its near demise three years ago, is calling it quits and has spent the past two months unsuccessfully looking for a new sponsor.

"Things are tough," said Gary Hogan, associate board member of the foundation and son of Pleasant Holidays founders Ed and Lynn Hogan. Visitor arrivals and spending are down, putting off potential sponsors, Gary Hogan said.

Plus, there is considerable uncertainty about what will happen to tourism if the United States attempts to topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Hogan said.

The Hogan foundation has spent about $500,000 annually to fund the thrice-weekly free show since Kodak pulled out of its sponsorship in 1999. Last year, the foundation renamed the attraction the Pleasant Hawaiian Hula Show.

In July the foundation announced it was ending the sponsorship so it could focus on its educational programs. Earlier this year, the trust helped establish the Hogan Entrepreneurial Program at Chaminade University.

Hogan said continued sponsorship of the hula show would cost at least $400,000 annually.

The hula show was started 65 years ago by Fritz Herman, then-vice president and manager of Kodak Hawaii. At the time, visitors had few opportunities to take pictures of hula shows during the daytime. The show was held for decades at Sans Souci, and was more recently held on the grounds of the city's Waikiki Shell.

The show's 25 performers are with the Royal Hawaiian Girls Glee Club. A representative could not be reached for comment yesterday.

"It's certainly regrettable," said City Councilman Duke Bainum. "It's been such a classic, treasured by locals and visitors alike."

The Hogan Foundation had hoped a new sponsor would pop up at the last minute, much like the foundation did three years ago, Hogan said.

But no other tour wholesaler has approached the foundation with an interest in taking on the show, he said. Neither has Eastman Kodak, which dropped its sponsorship three years ago because the show no longer fit its marketing strategy. And Waikiki's major hotels have been too busy negotiating union contracts, Hogan said.

The hula show does not fit the criteria for funding by the state Hawaii Tourism Authority as a major festival, which is meant for short-term events, said Frank Haas, the authority's tourism marketing director.

A more appropriate source would be a $600,000 fund the HTA provides to the city, but more than 100 groups have applied for the money, said city spokeswoman Carol Costa.

"We like things like the hula show because that's part of who we are, and it highlights our culture," Haas said. But the trick is to make it work financially. "The problem with a free show is, you have to find the money to cover the costs."

The foundation has not completely given up, and will continue to look for sponsors, Hogan said. But for now, the show's over.

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