Kodak Hula Show
gets a month reprieve
Executives are meetingBy Peter Wagner
with several potential new
sponsors for the show
The show, at least temporarily, will go on.
Facing its last performance tomorrow after 62 years in Waikiki, the Kodak Hula Show has been granted a 30-day reprieve.
"We've planned to extend for another 30 days so as to be able to have a smooth transition," said Jerry Wallner, director of corporate partnerships at Eastman Kodak Co.
Kodak has been trying to find a sponsor since mid-May when it announced plans to pull out its sponsorship on June 30 because of changes in the company's marketing strategy. The company has since said it is willing to continue sponsorship at a much-reduced level.
The hula show, free since it began on a lawn beside the Waikiki Natatorium in 1937, employs 41 dancers and musicians and costs more than $500,000 a year to operate. About $46,000 of the cost goes to the city as lease rent for use of part of the Waikiki Shell property.
Wallner, visiting from Atlanta, said he has met with several potential new sponsors for the show since arriving yesterday but declined to identify them. He said the one-month extension of the show will give negotiators more time to reach an agreement.
One candidate is believed to be the California-based Hogan Family Foundation, a recently formed nonprofit organization currently sponsoring a travel school at Loyola University in New Orleans and a variety of other tourism-related causes.
The foundation is funded by revenues from Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, a successful charter tour agency in Westlake Village, Calif., which for more than 40 years has been sending hundreds of thousands of mainland tourists to Hawaii each year.
Ed Hogan, president of Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays and head of the foundation, said the show is ideal for his organization, which looks to underwrite causes that promote travel and tourism.
"I had heard about this and was very interested in whether our family foundation could pick this up for the good of Hawaii," Hogan said, noting he recalls seeing Hilo Hattie perform at the show when he first arrived in Hawaii in 1954. "The Kodak Hula Show is such a treasure to lose."
Hogan has said he had no problem with the show continuing under its current name -- the Kodak Hula Show -- a stumbling block for some parties interested in sponsoring the show with their names on it.
Some other parties that have been approached as sponsors include Aloha Tower Marketplace and Aloha Airlines.
Active in efforts to save the Kodak name has been City Councilmember Rene Mansho, who believes the show, and its name, should be preserved. "I'm the one trying to protect the tradition," she said.
Mansho says she's had numerous calls from potential sponsors who said "no way" to keeping the Kodak name on the show.
Kodak has said it doesn't care whose name is on the show, as long as it continues. The company has conducted a nationwide search for sponsors, an effort that until recently has drawn little interest.
"We've made a sincere effort to keep the show going," Wallner said. "We felt an obligation to do that."
But in recent weeks a number of new parties have come forth, he said, perhaps a promising indication as negotiations with Kodak continue.
Mansho said the show's operators have approached the city to forgive the $46,000 annual rent, an unpalatable request given the city's current budget woes. "That's a very difficult public policy decision when you're trying to save money and cut costs," she said.
The show operates three times a week - Tuesday through Thursday - in an amphitheater Kodak built and gave to the city on the grounds of the Waikiki Shell.
Operators of the show, the Royal Hawaiian Girls Glee Club, say the 5,000-seat stands are usually full for the hour-long performances.