Hula legend Iolani Luahine was photographed in 1961 by Francis Haar, who was commissioned by the state to document her work.

Art conference to set agenda
for next 30 years

A home for Hawaii's art

Star-Bulletin staff

More than 30 years have passed since a Governor's Conference on Culture and the Arts took place in 1966 during John A. Burns' administration. Among major accomplish- ments were the establishment of community arts councils to promote various disciplines and a funding formula that enabled the state to procure works of art that would grace public spaces and enhance our natural environment. Participants were also available to set a goal of establishing a state museum for the arts.

With the opening of the Hawai'i State Art Museum now a reality, it's time to set the agenda for the next 30 years.

"Hawai'i, the State of the Arts" will take place Friday and Saturday at the Hawai'i Convention Center. The two-day conference will bring together representatives from Hawaii's arts organizations, government, business and the community to speak, experience and stimulate awareness of the role and impact that culture and the arts play in our everyday lives.

"The goal is to throw the net out to the community," said Susan Killeen, executive director of the Hawai'i Consortium for the Arts, which, along with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, is presenting the event. "The message is that we are better because of the arts.

Harue McVay's ceramic sculpture "Cuttlepus 2" (2001). Both works are featured in HiSAM's inaugural exhibition.

"Art can promote business. Art is for youth at risk. It's been demonstrated that if young people are introduced to arts, other aspects of their education improve. Their self-esteem improves."

Killeen, who has also been a video producer, said, "There was a time in my younger life when I believed the arts were for others -- it wasn't included in my education -- but once I got the courage to start attempting it, the fulfillment is wonderful.

"I think we all have a natural desire to create, and if it's nurtured, it allows us to develop more fully."

Topics to be covered at the conference include arts education, community-building in rural communities, cultural tourism, grants and fund development, positive alternatives for youths at risk, preserving cultural heritage, public art and revitalization in the community, public policy and advocacy, and urban planning and architecture.

"I think the most important thing this conference will do is have people walk away with more insight, more self-esteem in knowing we are making progress, we are heading toward good things," Killeen said. "Too often I hear people say things like, 'If I were in New York ...' or 'There's nothing happening here,' and I don't understand that. At any time you'll find something interesting going on in some venue, like a play or symphony performance."

And as far as tourism is concerned, other countries are opening up with physical qualities equal to Hawaii's. Cultural travel will allow the state to stay in the competition for travelers' dollars.

"I bring friends out of town to see the museums or dance performances and they're astounded by the sophistication of the art scene here, and they wouldn't have known it from the general information about Hawaii that's out there.

"People will come back if we can create the special events that enhance their experience here. It's one way of creating repeat travel."

Event speakers include Mary Schmidt Campbell, Dean Tisch School of the Arts, New York University; Evan Dobelle, University of Hawaii president; Walter Dods, First Hawaiian Bank chairman; Pualani Kanahele, Big Island kumu hula and community leader; recording artist Graham Nash; and Masaru "Pundy" Yokouchi, Maui Arts & Cultural Center chairman.

Participants will reveal results of a study on the economic impact of the arts in contributing to the state's bottom line and show how people can work together to create opportunities.

"One thing we're realizing is that we need to know each other," Killeen said. "Partnering is the way to get things done and use limited resources in an effective way. Not so much happens in isolation. You need other minds to feed you."

Visit the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts' conference Web site for complete listings of panel topics, schedules and registration forms, at

"Hawai'i, the State of the Arts"

Governor's Conference on Culture and the Arts

Where: Hawai'i Convention Center
Time: 8:30 to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Admission: $100 for both days includes continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments each day. Validated parking is available for $3 per day.
Call: 595-6058

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