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Hawaii State Arts Programs Could Be On The Chopping Block In The Legislature This Year

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Hawaii State Arts Programs Could Be On The Chopping Block In The Legislature This Year


Legislation to slash arts spending could even end the Kamehameha Day parades.

A 59-year-old program that pays for art in public spaces is facing significant changes and budget cuts under a bill being considered Tuesday in the Senate.

House Bill 1807 would change the program in which 1% of the costs of public construction projects are used for art in public spaces. The measure would limit the program to new construction only and eliminate it being used for renovation projects. Most state projects involve fixing up existing buildings, not building new ones, so this would considerably reduce arts funding.

The bill also suggests that no further artwork needs to be purchased by the state, noting that the state “possesses a surplus of artwork in storage for current and future uses.”

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The bill was approved by the House in March and has moved to the Senate. Its sponsor is Rep. Kyle Yamashita, chair of the House Finance Committee, who represents Maui’s District 12.

The Senate’s Transportation and Culture and the Arts Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the bill at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Capitol Modern, formerly the Hawaii State Art Museum, could face substantial budget cuts under legislation that seeks to curtail money for the arts. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

The popular annual Kamehameha Day celebration and parades held statewide may be on the chopping block as well, amid cost-cutting pressures caused by the Maui fire.

The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the state’s primary arts funding agency which oversees the celebration, also had been targeted for major cutbacks in both the House and Senate.

Under one proposal that appears to have stalled, House Bill 2565, introduced by Rep. Daniel Holt, the commission that oversees the foundation would be eliminated and the governor would appoint the executive director who would have to be approved by the Senate.

Karen Ewald, the executive director of the State Foundation On Culture and the Arts, says the cuts being proposed are potentially devastating, with the foundation possibly losing up to 70% of its income, including some $50,000 to $60,000 each year that is used to support the Kamehameha festival.

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“This is a critical bill that would cut arts funding dramatically and reverberate negatively around the state for years and years,” Ewald said. “It would have a huge impact if it were to happen.”

She said that state support for arts education in public schools, grants to artists and purchases of public art would all be curtailed. She said she expected that the state’s art museum could be shut down.

As to the Kamehameha parades, “that wouldn’t happen anymore,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to fund them.”

The commission’s annual budget for fiscal 2024 includes about $800,000 in state funds, $907,500 from the federal National Endowment for the Arts and about $5.7 million from the special fund, which is the 1% money, for a total of about $7.4 million, according to Ewald.

Hundreds of artists, actors, dancers, musicians and museum enthusiasts have rallied in defense of the foundation and the cut to the 1% for arts fund, testifying against the proposed legislation and saying that extreme cuts could alter Hawaii’s cultural fabric. They include the Kauai Museum, Maui Dance Council, Hawaii Craftsmen, Kahilu Theatre Foundation and the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.

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“The overarching purpose of this fund is to chronicle Hawaii’s history, its present, and future through the arts – all of the arts,” wrote Beth-Ann Kozlovich, executive director of the Hawaii Arts Alliance. “This also means supporting arts education to grow our current and future artists now children or as yet unborn. The fund’s purpose is far more than even the important function of collecting Hawaii art that can be seen in state buildings but to support all forms of the arts that can mirror and record the ongoing changes in thought, approach to issues and actions that reflect those changes through time.”

Karen Ewald, executive director of the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, poses inside Capitol Modern, a showcase for local art. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Artist and art instructor Erik Sullivan testified in indignation that lawmakers think Hawaii already has too much art.

“The assertion that the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) has ‘enough works of art’ and that there is ‘no need to acquire more art for the state collection’ is shortsighted,” Sullivan wrote. “Art is not a commodity to be accumulated until a certain quota is met; it is a living, evolving expression of our society and its values.”

“Please do not cut funds for Arts and Culture,” wrote painter Doug Young. “They are the backbone of Hawaii nei.”

It’s not clear who is pushing for the changes in the state’s art funding budget, but some of the pressure is likely coming as a result of the huge costs of rebuilding in Maui after the catastrophic fire in August that killed 101 people and damaged or destroyed more than 2,000 homes and much of West Maui’s critical infrastructure. With that in mind, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz, who represents Wahiawa on Oahu, instructed state departments to prepare to make painful cuts of 10% to 15%.

But lawmakers have recently said the financial hit may not be as devastating as they originally feared. Last week Yamashita said the state was projecting a $1.34 billion surplus that would cover the estimated $1 billion needed to help finance the Maui recovery effort. The state, meanwhile, has a record $1.5 billion in its Emergency and Budget Reserve Fund, known as the Rainy Day fund, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Sunday.

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There has been some management turmoil at the foundation in the past two years. Long-time executive director Jonathan Johnson left the job in the summer of 2022, and was replaced by Allison Wong, former executive director of The Contemporary Museum. But the board placed Wong on administrative leave a few months later and named Ewald as interim director. She became executive director in October.

Around that time, the agency made an unusual announcement when it changed the name of the venerable Hawaii State Art Museum to “Capitol Modern,” in a rebranding effort that Ewald said would help the facility shed the common misperception that museums are stuffy or uninvitingly uptight.

But the rebrand, which cost $156,260 and stripped the word “Hawaii” from the museum’s name, proved controversial, with critics including former government Ben Cayetano publicly panning the move, according to Hawaii Public Radio.

The foundation has in the past been a source of pride to the state. Hawaii was the first state in the country to adopt a percent-for-art law, a concept that subsequently spread to many other parts of the United States, where it applies in some places to both publicly owned and privately owned buildings.

The money is used to finance many community arts-based endeavors and festivals.

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About 10,000 children in the state participate in arts programs funded by the commission through the percent program, tens of thousands visit public art exhibits and thousands of people each year attend Kamehameha commemorations.





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Hawaii

State urges vaccinations amid ‘community spread’ of whooping cough on Hawaii Island

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State urges vaccinations amid ‘community spread’ of whooping cough on Hawaii Island


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The state has confirmed an additional case of pertussis — or whooping cough — on Hawaii Island amid an outbreak that has so far sickened 11 since March.

Several of the recent cases have been in infants too young to be fully vaccinated.

Officials said the cases indicate “community spread” of pertussis on Hawaii Island.

Because of that, the state Health Department is strongly recommending that parents stay up to date on children’s vaccinations, especially for infants and young children.

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Pertussis vaccination can usually be obtained from a primary care provider. Calling ahead to confirm pertussis vaccine availability is recommended. Those who do not have a primary care provider can contact their health plan or can contact a federally qualified health center if they do not have health insurance.

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by bacteria.

It can cause severe coughing fits, followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound when breathing in.

Vomiting and exhaustion may also follow. Pertussis can lead to serious complications, especially in infants.

For more information about pertussis, visit the CDC website.

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Sydney Sweeney Summer Continues As She Rocked A Black Bikini While ‘Hanging In Hawaii’

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Sydney Sweeney Summer Continues As She Rocked A Black Bikini While ‘Hanging In Hawaii’


Actress Sydney Sweeney’s starpower has been steadily growing over the past few years, partly thanks to her performance in Euphoria (which can be streamed with a Max subscription). While she’s been hard at work for years, the 26 year-old actress has been treating herself to a much-needed vacation. Sweeney’s summer continues as she rocked a black bikini while “hanging in Hawaii”… literally.

During her recent trip, Sweeney went full on Pirate while on a boat with friends… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. She’s also been kiteboarding, once again showing what an athlete the Handmaid’s Tale alum is. Most recently, Sweeney posted on Instagram posing in a bikini in Hawaii. Check it out below: 

Well, that’s one way to pose on a car. Just like her character Spider-Woman in Madame Web, it looks like Sweeney is comfortable hanging upside down. Although this time she’s doing it for pleasure, rather than working on a film set. 

Considering how many movie projects she’s put out in quick succession, the Euphoria fan favorite had definitely earned some time off this summer. Most recently she made headlines after a Hollywood producer claimed Sydney couldn’t act. Luckily her fans seem to have rallied around the actress, who has surely proven herself acting talent in projects like Sharp Objects. 

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In addition to her acting talents, Sydney Sweeney has also become a bit of a style icon, thanks to her stunning looks on the red carpet. That includes Sweeney rocking trends like the sheer dress and more. And as a result, she’s got nearly 20 million followers on Instagram. 

Of course, there are plenty of fans who are more concerned with what acting projects she’ll appear in, rather than her fabulous vacation pictures. Particularly, folks are wondering about Euphoria Season 3, which was unfortunately been delayed due to writing issues. Fans of that acclaimed series are worried that it may never actually return to Emmy, despite Zendaya winning the Emmy for it.

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

After the wild success of her romantic comedy Anyone But You, there’s rumors that she may be working on a sequel with co-star Glen Powell. Leading up to the movie’s release, there were rumors about Sweeney and Powell being involved romantically, which they both denied. And now that the rom-com is streaming on Netflix, the calls for a follow-up might be even louder.

Another recent Sweeney movie that made headlines is Madame Web, which she starred in opposite Dakota Johnson. Unfortunately it was a box office bomb, despite being viral online. Still, there are moviegoers who want to see Sweeney back as Spider-Woman in another movie. We’ll just have to wait and see if this happens, especially since she’s got MMA training that could make her into a badass hero. In the meantime, check out the 2024 movie release dates. 





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Hawaii Lawmakers Set Ambitious Goal For Increasing The Number Of Women Cops

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Hawaii Lawmakers Set Ambitious Goal For Increasing The Number Of Women Cops


Women make up a fraction of law enforcement departments, but research shows they use less force than male officers and are the subject of fewer lawsuits and complaints.

Police departments in Hawaii are being asked to significantly boost the number of women in their ranks with the recent passage of House Bill 2231, which aims to increase diversity among law enforcement agencies in the state. 

The bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, sets a goal of having 30% of law enforcement staff be women or people who identify as nonbinary by 2030. The measure also calls for departments to recruit officers from diverse backgrounds. About 13% of sworn personnel in the Honolulu Police Department were women in 2023, on par with the national average. 

Improving the diversity of law enforcement agencies nationwide is vital for fostering trust between those agencies and the public, legislators acknowledged in the bill, referencing key findings in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing that shows the need for greater representation of women and minorities in law enforcement roles across the country.

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The Honolulu Police Department set ambitious goals in the past for increasing the number of women on the force but has made only incremental progress, inching from 10% of the force in 2014 to 13% in 2023. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Persistent barriers remain between women and jobs in law enforcement, though, including entrenched departmental cultures favoring men and policies that hinder the balance between policing careers and family responsibilities, according to a 2019 National Institute of Justice report. 

“I’m glad they are pushing to bring in more female officers,” said Erica Paredes, a deputy sheriff at the Hawaii Department of Law Enforcement. “It will be a great opportunity for us to show we belong as well.”

Paredes said her department employs fewer than 20 women out of 400 people on staff. She knows of only one other woman working in her entire building. 

“You have these masculine guys,” Paredes said, “and then you have females that remind people of aunty or mom. So it’s a different thing we bring to the table.”

Besides a written test, Paredes said she had to pass a physical agility test that included running 1.5 miles in less than 18 minutes, alongside minimums for push-ups and sit-ups. There also were psychological exams, voice analysis assessments and tests on legal knowledge. Paredes recalled it took her a year to complete the process, including six months spent at the police academy.

Paredes, who has three children, said the transition into law enforcement was difficult in the beginning, as she had to rebalance her life.

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“You have the role of being there as a mom and kind of having to be there for your kids when it comes time for school work or bedtime,” Paredes said, “and sometimes, you’re not able to be there.” 

Multiple agencies, including the Honolulu Police Department and the State of Hawaii Organization Of Police Officers, submitted testimony in support of the bill.

The Policing Project at NYU School of Law, while applauding the ambition of having 30% female officers in every law enforcement agency in the state by 2030, pointed out that it might be unrealistic due to the staff retirement and turnover required to make that happen. The organization recommended in testimony that Hawaii set a more achievable target of having 30% women in recruit classes by 2030.

The Policing Project is one of the organizations behind the national 30×30 Initiative, an effort to increase the representation of women in police recruit classes to 30% by 2030. The project also focuses on ensuring that department policies and culture actively support the success of qualified women officers throughout their careers. 

Tanya Meisenholder, director of gender equity at the Policing Project, says the initiative has seen results. 

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“Madison, Wisconsin, for instance, just got over 30% for recruiting women and we’ve also seen a number of agencies put policies in place around pregnancy and maternal leave,” Meisenholder said. “Hawaii could potentially see these  impacts in the long run.”

Sen. Karl Rhoads, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the bill is a first step in the right direction.

“It’s important to have diversity in any profession, people from various backgrounds and educational perspectives,” Rhoads said, “especially in law enforcement.” 





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