NASAA Notes: July 2024

July 2, 2024

NASAA Pacific Island Members Enrich FestPAC

Hula dancers at the 13th FestPAC opening ceremony share a warm welcome from festival host Hawaiʻi.

The Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FestPAC) is the world’s largest celebration of the Indigenous people of the Pacific Islands. Held every four years—most recently last month in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi—the festival was created to preserve the Pacific’s unique traditions by lifting up culture bearers, showcasing their distinct practices and artistry, and sustaining their traditions through cultural exchanges. The festival was also created in response to wise Pacific elders who were concerned about potential erosion of culture.

Delegates from Guam lead 24 other Pacific Island nations in FestPAC’s opening procession at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center. Photo by Manny Crisosotomo, 916-257-0340

Since 1972, FestPAC has served as the world’s preeminent stage for Pacific Island nations to showcase their distinctive heritage and artistic talents. Rooted in traditional culture, the festival has evolved to become a platform for contemporary Pacific Island artists to showcase their creativity. As FestPAC builds understanding of the region’s cultures, it continues to be a forum that strengthens cultural bonds among Pacific Island communities.

Dancers from the Northern Mariana Islands perform for FestPAC participants.

2024 marks FestPAC’s postpandemic comeback, where 25 Pacific Island countries and territories participated. NASAA members from American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaiʻi were all key participants in presenting artists and culture bearers who shared their traditional and contemporary visual arts, crafts, music, dance and oral traditions at venues across Honolulu.

Thousands attended FestPAC’s opening ceremony, which celebrated unity across the Pacific. The parade of Pacific Island nations featured performances that included traditional music and dance from each nation. The parade was led by the delegation from Guam, as our colleagues there hosted the immediate past FestPAC celebration in 2016. Each delegation greeted the FestPAC family of nations and host Hawaiʻi, bearing traditional gifts for Gov. Josh Green and First Lady Jamie Green.

FestPAC delegates from American Samoa present Hawaiʻi Gov. Josh Green with a siapo cloth—a form of bark cloth painted with patterns evoking the local flora and fauna.

The evening was filled with solidarity, pride and inspiration, as each nation proudly performed during the opening ceremony. The enormity of the event was captured beautifully by an official from the Ministry of Tourism in Tonga, who remarked, “We are not small islands. We are caretakers of the largest ocean in the world.” Tonga is the only Pacific nation that never lost its Indigenous government.

From June 6 – 16, FestPAC enlivened Honolulu with events across the city. The Hawaiʻi Convention Center hosted Festival Village, which featured traditional architecture that housed a marketplace and performances for each participating nation. Across the city attendees could experience fiber arts, carving and tattoo demonstrations, literary arts spaces, and fashion showcases, as well as heritage and contemporary performances, visual arts, Pacific conversations, and cultural exchanges.

The Pacific Island jurisdictions met with representatives from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Western States Arts Federation and NASAA during FestPAC in Honolulu. Photo by Wakeful State

Our colleagues at the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) celebrated FestPAC by presenting Ke Ao Lama (Enlightened World), which featured traditional and contemporary artistic expressions of the Pacific Island nations through five interconnected exhibitions and related activities at Capitol Modern, the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum. Notably, the exhibits manifested SFCA’s deeper commitment to increasing Native Hawaiian representation within SFCA’s programs, including the purchase of artworks for the agency’s Art in Public Places Program.

Guam’s final performance at FestPAC was a collaboration between Guam, the Northern Marianas and CHamoru diasporic performers from San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Texas—a first at FestPAC! Photo by Manny Crisosotomo, 916-257-0340

It was a real honor to experience traditional and contemporary creative expressions from artists of the Pacific Island nations. I also appreciated the opportunity to continue learning from our NASAA colleagues from the American Samoa Council for Arts, Culture and Humanities, Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency, Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. I am particularly grateful to our friends at the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and Western States Arts Federation for creating important spaces at FestPAC to center the voices of our colleagues from the Pacific Island jurisdictions. We listened to colleagues talk about their work, strategies, successes and challenges, as well as voice why regional connection is so critical for them. Those conversations enhanced our collective learning and will certainly enhance our abilities to be of relevant service to our partners in the Pacific.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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