By E. Tory Laitila
Without much fanfare or notice, and with no objections, the County of Maui repealed its Commission on Culture and the Arts. After decades of existence, this county level board with geographical representation was dissolved via Bill No. 83, proposed by Mayor Alan Arakawa. “A BILL FOR AN ORDINANCE REPEALING CHAPTER 2.37, MAUI COUNTY CODE, RELATING TO COMMISSION ON CULTURE AND THE ARTS” unanimously passed final reading at the November 1, 2013 meeting of the Maui County Council; it was signed by Mayor Arakawa the same day. Effective upon signing, Ordinance 4079 quietly and completely eliminated the Maui Commission on Culture and the Arts.
Was this dissolution of the Commission simply an effort to save money? A 2011 report from the Cost of Government Commission recommended dissolving the Commission. Or was it a lack of professional staff or even a lack of interest in culture and the arts? At the first reading of the Bill in the Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on September 30, 2013, the Economic Development Director stated that the Commission is no longer essential to the purpose it was formed, even with the County spending close to $1 million a year on arts, culture, arts facilities, festivals, and events. The public can read the transcript of the meeting to determine for themselves (http://www.co.maui.hi.us/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/18480, starting on page 22). Whatever the reason was, the voice of the arts and culture in local government has been silenced on Maui.