Maui Loses Its Commission on Culture and the Arts

By E. Tory Laitila

thumbs-down-smiley-mdWithout much fanfare or notice, and with no objections, the County of Maui repealed its Commission on Culture and the Arts.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.

mauiWas 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 (, starting on page 22). Whatever the reason was, the voice of the arts and culture in local government has been silenced on Maui.

By |2016-10-17T05:26:06+00:00March 29th, 2014|Newsletter|2 Comments

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  1. Kristin April 2, 2014 at 9:18 am

    The minutes for the Maui County Council’s Nov. 1, 2013 meeting were not posted at the time this article was written. I had hoped that when the minutes were posted they would show there was heated debate, or thoughtful contemplation, over the elimination of the Commission on Culture and the Arts. However, sadly, this was not the case. The way I read it, lack of community interest/participaction was sited as validation for elimination of the Commission; not the fact (as it sounded from the Committee minutes) that the Commission was bypassed by the agencies that should have been utilizing it. Nov. 1, 2013 County Council minutes:
    Voting for the ordinance starts on page 43.

  2. 1st Time Visitor To Hawaii November 5, 2014 at 5:01 am

    What a sad day it is for the people in Maui. This is another example of how politics should not be mixed with culture and arts. Reminds me of the words of Brother Iz’s song “Hawaii 78”. It’s like taking prayer out of the school system. The original foundation becomes meaningless and you progress with a future generation that has forgotten the true culture and arts of their ancestors. Thus, “A Lost Generation.”

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