A Community of Creative and Artistic People

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Read this article in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi

Photo: Kalani Akana

Businesses of Hawaiʻi and all of the continental U.S. are distressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A result has been the closure of restaurants, gyms, movie theatres and more. Perhaps the impact on hula schools, art galleries, and places for entertainers have not been considered. The creative and artistic people involved are part of the creative economic community. Within this community are people who include hula practitioners, entertainers, videographers, photographers, painters, carvers, writers, fashion designers and others.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the creative and artistic community of Hawaiʻi produced $3 billion, about 3% of Hawaiʻi’s economy, and about 22,000 jobs were produced. On the continental U.S. about 5.1 million jobs were in the creative and artistic community. This same community produced about $404.9 billion each year prior to the pandemic.

Unfortunately, this community has not been looked after by the government (federal and state). Perhaps one of the reasons is this fact: it is four times more likely that artists and other creative people are self-employed.

Photo: Vicky Holt Takamine speaks with a group at ILI
Vicky Holt Takamine me nā lālā o ILI (Indigenous Leadership Institute). – Photo: Courtesy

However, there are organizations in Hawaiʻi helping the artistic and creative community, namely PAʻI Foundation led by Vicky Holt Takamine. For more than 10 years they have been assisting the creative economic community. With support from the First Peoples Fund (FPF) and the Native Artists Professional Development Fund (NAPDF) artists are assisted with the development of portfolios and webpage professional development and design. This enables artists to show their arts, hula, singing, fashion and so forth. Some of the artists assisted by PAʻI and FPF-NAPDF include ʻUmi Kai, Kaʻohu Seto and Starr Kalahiki. Web pages are critically important during the pandemic. For example, on October 22, people could log into the web, YouTube or KHON to watch the MAMo Wearable Fashion show and order fashion items from the online market (see www.paifoundation.org/).

In addition, PAʻI and FPF, along with Alternate Roots, NALAC (National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures) and SIPP Culture (Mississippi Center for Cultural Production) joined together to form ILI (Indigenous Leadership Institute). During the pandemic, they raised $5,000,000 for the native creative economic community. Native leaders can apply to the ILI (see www.weareili.org/). Kahōkü Lindsey Asing, Kanoelani Davis, Tara Gumapac, Chadwick Pang, and Kaʻiulani Takamori are some of the recent fellows of ILI.

Here is some good news for the creative economic community: the City & County of Honolulu has announced financial assistance of $10,000-$50,000 to those businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. If interested, see www.oneoahu.org/culture-arts.