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FestPac 2020: Arts and Culture never shown in Hawaii with Guam taking a key role


Many tourists visiting Hawaii from June 10-21 do not know, that the biggest arts and the cultureal festival is hosted in the U.S. State bringing all nations of the Pacific together. It’s an event visitors would not want to miss.

The theme of FESTPAC-Hawaiʻi 2020, “E kū i ka hoe uli “ (Take hold of the steering paddle), comes from a prophetic chant that warns of turbulent changes on the horizon. Today, the chant exhorts indigenous people to reclaim the right to steer our own course, now and into the future.

The Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FESTPAC) is the world’s largest celebration of indigenous Pacific Islanders, drawing artists, cultural practitioners, scholars and officials from member nations of the Pacific Community (SPC). FESTPAC is held every four years in a different Pacific Island nation, and Hawaiʻi is honored to host this dynamic showcase of Oceanic arts and culture from June 10 – 21, 2020.

FESTPAC-Hawaiʻi 2020 will feature live performances, cultural workshops, hands-on demonstrations, film, storytelling and more, exemplifying the diversity of traditional and contemporary arts and culture across Oceania. The event will also underscore the urgent issues Pacific Islanders face – from  rising sea levels and the death of coral reefs to widening social inequality – as a way to illuminate our path toward the future.

Launched in 1972 by the South Pacific Commission (now Pacific Community), the festival seeks to halt the erosion of traditional practices through ongoing cultural exchange and to strengthen relationships between the nations of Oceania.

FESTPAC’s 27 member nations are: American Samoa, Aotearoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaiʻi, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Norfolk, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Rapa Nui, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna. Hawaiʻi has also invited the indigenous peoples of Taiwan to FESTPAC-Hawaiʻi 2020.

Guam has officially submitted its intent to be part of the 2020 Festival of Pacific Arts or FestPac, the region’s biggest cultural event that happens every four years. FestPac 2020 will be held in Hawaii from June 10 through 21.

Guam hosted the event from May 22 to June 4, 2016, spending at least $8.5 million for it and drawing thousands of artisans and visitors.

Sen. Kelly Marsh, chairwoman of the legislative committee on heritage and the arts, said participating in FestPac 2020 is a great opportunity to promote Guam as a tourist destination to the international tourist market.

“As a government, we must do our part to ensure that the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts in Hawaiʻi is successful; to ensure that Guam is represented with the dignity the CHamoru culture deserves; to continue supporting that which strengthens the Guam brand and our local entrepreneurs; and to ensure that our community, and especially the CHamoru people of Guam, are afforded the ability to continue to showcase, maintain, and revitalize their culture,” Marsh said in a statement.

In the next few weeks, there will be a call out for resident artisans who are interested in chairing one of four subcommittees that will oversee the range of cultural arts that Hawaii has outlined, she said.

Marsh announced that she and the Department of CHamoru Affairs President Ann Marie Arceo, the head of the Guam festival delegation, submitted the island’s official form of participation.

“Our participation in FestPac has been incredibly meaningful for our community,” she said.

The senator said her late father-in-law, former Speaker Carlos P. Taitano, noted that Guam’s participation has been “a major driving force behind CHamoru cultural revitalization and public expressions.”

“We are very fortunate to have the staff of the Council of the Arts and Humanities Agency who are well-versed in the ins and outs of preparing for our participation in FestPac as they’ve been doing so for decades,” she said.

Guam’s participation has also been important in revitalizing cultural industries that are a key part of the Guam brand for tourism, Marsh said.

“Tourists have long stated that wanting to see and experience the CHamoru culture is the main reason for choosing to come to Guam,” the senator said.

Participation in FestPac provides a venue at which to sell local products but even more so, it provides both exposures to the types of products Guam has to offer as well as exposes local artisans to the cultural arts of fellow Pacific islanders, she said.

In 2016 eTurboNews reported from Guam:

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.