It’s coming- the grandest Pacific Islands festival of all is coming in 2020. I can’t believe that it was been four years since I reported on the last festival when it was held in Guam in 2016. The theme in Guam was: “What We Own, What We Have, What We Share, United Voices of the PACIFIC” ~ “Håfa Iyo-ta, Håfa Guinahå-ta, Håfa Ta Påtte, Dinanña’ Sunidu Siha Giya PASIFIKU”
Hawaiʻi is honored to be the chosen host for the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture (FESTPAC) from June 10-21, 2020. For decades, they have been welcomed by their cousins across the Pacific, who have shared their ʻāina, their homes, their food and their hearts with them. Now, it is their turn to welcome everyone with open arms and happy hearts. Together, we, as Pacific Islanders, will unite to share and grow our rich arts and culture, to learn from one another, to chart our paths into the future.
The theme of FESTPAC Hawaiʻi is: “E kū i ka hoe uli” (Take hold of the steering paddle), comes from a prophetic chant warning of turbulent changes on the horizon. Today, the chant exhorts indigenous people to reclaim their right to steer their own course, now and into the future.
FESTPAC Hawaiʻi, working with the Pacific Community (SPC) , will showcase each nation’s performers, artists and cultural practitioners, while engaging in critical conversations on issues ranging from sustainability and rising oceans to education and gender equality.
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.
For more than 40 years, The Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture has been an important venue for the perpetuation of Pacific arts and cultures. It has developed into a strong entity in which cultural sharing and learning from differences has enhanced our appreciation and knowledge of the region. The goals of the Festival were developed in 1975 and have remained the driving force of the event
- Preserving and revival of traditional arts and cultures of the Pacific,
- Exploring new forms of cultural activities suited to the needs of the Pacific,
- Creating greater awareness of the cultural richness of the Pacific throughout the world,
- Fostering a greater sense of unity throughout the Pacific to promote excellence in arts, and
- Promoting the development and use of ethnic [indigenous] languages
The South Pacific Arts Festival Council, as the Council was initially named, was established at a meeting organised by SPC in Noumea in 1975. Its main objectives were to ensure the Festival would become a permanent event; to provide the SPC Conference with information about the Festival and advice with respect to cultural affairs of the region.
The Council ensures the continuity of the Festival of Pacific Arts on a 4-yearly basis and sets the mandate for cultural development in the Pacific Islands and territories as per its objectives.
In 2017 Guam’s Governor office stated the Festival of Pacific Arts in 2016 resulted in a 25 percent increase in visitor arrivals and a $125 million benefit to the island’s economy. From May 22 to June 4, 2016, “Guam welcomed 65,846 visitors; that’s a 25.5 percent increase in arrivals compared to the same period in 2015.” The 12th Festival of Pacific Arts was the most successful festival to date, according to FestPac followers and previous hosts alike.
Looking forward to an even bigger festival in Hawaii in 2020. As more news and updates become available, I will keep you posted here.