Legislative Session Update: HB 1807 deferred, thanks to public support

March 20, 2024
mahalo hb 1807 has been deferred text over photo of Mr Chickenpants sculpture

Senate TCA has deferred HB 1807

The Senate Committee on Transportation and Culture and the Arts (TCA) has deferred HB 1807, which would cut an estimated 68% of funding for the SFCA Art in Public Places Program, which includes Capitol Modern (Hawaiʻi State Art Museum), arts education programs for public schools, and professional development for public school teachers.

This was thanks to the support from hundreds of testimonies, phone calls, and impassioned expressions both online and in person in opposition to the bill. Mahalo nui for your support, testimony, and sharing of information! The conversation on how to fund arts in Hawaiʻi continues.

Senator Chris Lee said “I don’t think it was anyone’s intention to damage or to do disservice to the arts community, to take away funding […] the discussion to my knowledge has not been ‘do we fund art’ but ‘how do we fund art.’” Lee goes on to recommend a conversation over the interim (summer) into 2025 bringing all the stakeholders to the table to see what the future path for funding should look like going forward. “Hopefully this is the start of a constructive conversation.” (Senator Leeʻs comments begin at 2:15:14).

Senator Brendan Elefante commented (2:19:42) “…art, as you hear from some testifiers, is part of therapy, it’s part of life, and in many cases, it’s also part of a lifestyle.”

Committee Vice Chair Senator Lorraine R. Inouye commented (2:20:19) “I’m with you all, and I thank you, Chair, for doing a working group by having a discussion with the community as well. It’s so important.”

About HB 1807, Relating to the Works of Art Special Fund

HB 1807, HD1, Relating to the Works of Art Special Fund. Seeks to revoke Capital Improvement appropriations for state building renovations, diverting funds from the SFCA Works of Art Special Fund. In testimony, the SFCA opposed this bill. It would have cut an estimated 68% of funding for the SFCA Art in Public Places Program, which includes Capitol Modern (Hawaiʻi State Art Museum), arts education programs for public schools, and professional development for public school teachers.

The SFCA is Hawaiʻi’s state government arts agency, with a mission to promote, perpetuate, and preserve culture and the arts in Hawai‘i.

Media Coverage

  • Civil Beat: Hawaii State Arts Programs Could Be On The Chopping Block In The Legislature This Year (March 19, 2023). “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. “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.” Read the full piece by Kirsten Downey on the Civil Beat website: https://www.civilbeat.org/2024/03/hawaii-state-arts-programs-could-be-on-the-chopping-block-in-the-legislature-this-year/
  • Honolulu Star Advertiser EditorialOff the news: Funding for culture and arts in peril (March 19, 2023). “Funding for the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) is on the chopping block with House Bill 1807, which deletes about $2.5 million that comes from capital improvement spending on state building renovations.” Read the full editorial on the Star-Advertiser website (paywall): https://www.staradvertiser.com/2024/03/19/editorial/off-the-news/off-the-news-funding-for-culture-and-arts-in-peril/
  • KITV-4 Island News: Battle lines “drawn” over local art funding in Hawaii (March 19, 2024) “Artists and art lovers got their message through to lawmakers. as committee members deferred the bill this session — effectively killing the measure.” Read the full article by Paul Drewes on the KITV-4 website: https://www.kitv.com/news/local/battle-lines-drawn-over-local-art-funding/article_6454a6b0-e66e-11ee-921b-e39b36e6be01.html
  • Hawaiʻi Public Radio: Senate committee defers measure that would have slashed arts funding (March 20, 2024). “Artists came out in full force to oppose the measure, which they said would slash arts programs that support artists across the state. Sen. Chris Lee, who chairs the Senate Transportation and Culture and the Arts Committee, said stakeholders should be involved in determining what funding for the arts would look like. ‘We want to hear from you guys not just today in moments like this, but throughout the session and every year from all walks of life,’ he said. ‘Because we’re all members of the same community.’” Read or listen to the full piece by Cassie Ordonio on the HPR website: https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/local-news/2024-03-20/senate-committee-defers-measure-that-would-have-slashed-arts-funding
  • Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Hawaii special arts fund is saved (March 22, 2024) “Hawaii’s arts community is breathing a collective sigh of relief — at least for now.” Read the full piece by Nina Wu on the Star-Advertiser website (paywall): staradvertiser.com/2024/03/22/hawaii-news/hawaii-special-arts-fund-is-saved.


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