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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, July 2, 2004

Arts program cuts revisited

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday said her administration is exploring ways to replace at least some of the money she restricted from the state Foundation on Culture and the Arts and support programs focused on youth.


he state Legislature approved $1.2 million for the state Foundation on Culture and the Arts to distribute — in the form of grants — to more than 100 nonprofit organizations who apply for money. The administration has said it will withhold $500,000 as part of overall restrictions to prepare for future state costs, prompting an outcry from the arts community.

About 20 people representing the foundation and arts organizations met with the governor Wednesday for about an hour and a half upon her invitation. Lingle said she discussed the state's budget situation and then listened to their concerns about the restriction.

"The more they spoke it seemed to me that it was focusing on children and youth," Lingle said. She said some prevention money — possibly from the federal government — could be an option "so that it's not necessarily just general support for these groups, but if we could get it more narrowly focused on children and youth as a preventive program."

"When a person participates in drama or art then they're not doing other things that aren't as healthy or getting into trouble," she said.

Lingle said she will get back to the foundation and the arts organizations next week.

Lingle declined to say whether the administration would look at restoring all or some of the $500,000 and said only: "We told them we were going to make a sincere effort to try to help them maintain programs that are specially focused on children and youth."

Some members of the arts community who attended the meeting said they appreciated the governor's listening to them and were hopeful she would restore not just money for youth programs but all of the support.

"I'm delighted that there might be more for arts education, but if the money is not restored for other programs, the arts organizations affected in the other areas will be severely impacted," said George Ellis, recently retired director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts and a foundation commissioner.

Susan Killeen of the Hawaii Consortium for the Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting culture and arts programs, said she would be "very happy" if the governor found money for the youth programs.

"And it's absolutely necessary that we restore funding for the other arts programs," she said. "I don't think you have a strong and spirited a community if you're not really providing a healthy arts community."

Louise King Lanzilotti, managing director of the Honolulu Theatre for Youth, said she's glad Lingle is looking at other money but noted that federal money can be restrictive in how it is used.

"I happen to work in a youth theater, so everything we do deals with youth and the arts and can probably fit her definition, but that's not going to be true for everybody," she said.

Marilyn Cristofori, executive director of the Hawai'i Alliance for Arts Education, said it would be better to reinstate all the restricted money but "if at this time they need to emphasize those (youth) programs, it's probably not going to be a problem because most of the grants that were awarded already do that.

"I think in the big picture one has to think about arts for lifelong learning, not just for children. ... Arts should be accessible to the community as a whole."