HITTING A HIGH NOTE
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kane Kanetani, executive director of the Honolulu Boy Choir, announced yesterday after meeting with parents that the choir will officially continue following approval of a business plan. Kanetani, in the middle, joined some of the happy boys in the choir after yesterday's practice. CLICK FOR LARGE
The Honolulu Boy Choir earns an encore
A new board takes over with pledges of support and a fresh business plan
The Honolulu Boy Choir will continue to hit the high notes.
The financially struggling choir has been reorganized with a business plan and a new board. Parents of the 70 young singers spearheaded the survival effort that will tap into a flood of pledges of support for the community institution.
"We have been promised money to last for the first year, and we will be pursuing future grants," Executive Director Kane Kanetani said. "We have gotten calls from individuals and different organizations including government agencies who may be able to help us."
He said the "magic number" to keep the choir going is $150,000, the annual operating budget that pays for rehearsal and storage space, insurance and salaries of choral director Pamela DeBoard, accompanist Joanna Cunningham and Kanetani.
The funding strategy was discussed last night in a parents meeting at Makiki Christian Church, where the choir rehearses. Two months earlier the board of directors announced that it would shut down the 33-year institution at the end of May, when its liability insurance expires.
On Tuesday the outgoing board of directors elected new board members and turned over the reins to them.
"We gave them the task to put together a business plan," said outgoing board Chairwoman Jean Rolles. "They succeeded with that. The process helped them to think through all the things they need to do. They laid out how they think they can raise the money. I see no reason why they won't be successful."
"We wouldn't have turned it over to parent committee unless we felt it would be successful," Rolles said.
She said the old board members resigned to make room for "new energy. There had always been a gap between board and parents committee. This will make a closer situation. The parents are really dedicated to seeing the choir succeed. The board members felt confident that they will."
The new directors -- Carlson Mun, Michelle Saito and Neva Rego -- will convene their first meeting tomorrow to name at least three additional board members, Kanetani said. "We have people in the wings who have verbally committed to serve. They will not be parents."
Kanetani said the choir has been "living off the profit of the Christmas season, the most profitable in years. We've been minimizing expenses. The boys have been rehearsing, doing performances around town."
The choir has been a fixture at public events for years. The boys sang at the Easter sunrise service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl and will return for the Memorial Day service.
They also appear at conventions, churches and in concerts and do private gigs throughout the year. They charge from $1,000 to $1,500 per performance depending on its length, Kanetani said.
The choir does not charge the boys tuition.
More than 2,200 boys have sung with the choir since it was founded in 1974 by Roy Hallman, who was choral director at Central Union Church. His wife, Nyle, was accompanist and musical arranger. When they retired 10 years ago, the organization budget was increased to hire their replacements.