When I was a Hawai'i public school student in the early 1940s and 1950s, there was some form of art class or art with the lesson at all grade levels: painting, drawing, drama, embroidery, singing, dance, blockprints, music, embroidery, among others. Even penmanship. We constructed and painted custumes, and made papier-mache puppets for our dramas. Rhythm bands consisted of sticks, tambourines, and triangles. I took choir, cartooning; learned creative writing in journalism. Girls took home economics, and boys took shop. These are a few examples of what I learned that I carried into adulthood: linoleum blockprints for Christmas cards, singing in church choirs, using home economics lessons, and encouraging our children (as my parents did) in the arts. I was a Speech and Theatre major in college. What I learned influenced me as a supporter of the arts, in general, and the Hawai'i Arts Alliance, in particular. Its three-fold mission of teaching, supporting communities, and promoting the arts is evident as it works and collaborates with partners, educators and youth throughout the state. As a Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network member, the Alliance is recognized nationally. It has successfully promoted legislation for arts education in the schools. Its dedicated staff and board members have demonstrated that a small investment in the arts has a big impact on the lives youth and the vibrancy of the community.
The Hawaii Arts Alliance has and continues to promote and shape the arts experiences of the entire State of Hawaii. The organization has been a leader in arts education as the major factor in the Arts First program, coordinating schools and artists throughout the state in a unique process of teaching and mentoring. It has also worked closely with the Hawaii community in bringing arts to people at a grass roots level. Two important projects: the refurbishing of the King Kamehameha statue in Hawi on the Big Island, during which the curator worked closely with community members and eventually restored the statue to the community's specifications. This was a project that went beyond restoration to a uniting of the people of Hawi through education, arts participation, community dialogue and hands-on restoration. A second important project was the establishment of the Arts District via the development of the Arts at Marks facility which houses visual arts exhibits, office spaces for artists and arts organizations, and a performance space used for dance, music and theatre presentations. This downtown/Chinatown venue was the catalyst for the now thriving Arts District with galleries, restaurants, a restored Hawaii Theatre and other shops and coffee houses. The Alliance has become a force in the arts as well as in the community at large. Board members are drawn from many sectors including business, education, social services and especially the arts. The executive director has held that position for over 10 years and serves the State in many consultant and committee capacities beyond her duties at the Alliance which continues to grow and exert constructive influence in the Hawaii Society.