FESTPAC 2020 postponed due to concerns over COVID-19; Guam developing alternative plans

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Event organizers for the 13th Festival of the Pacific Arts & Culture, or FESTPAC, have announced that it will postpone the international event due to growing global concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak.

Hawaiʻi was to host FESTPAC 2020 for eleven days in June 2020 but FESTPAC organizers stressed the priority of health and safety for Hawaiʻi residents and for all festival participants. Organizers will continue to monitor developments surrounding COVID-19. Currently, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi.

Senator Kelly Marsh-Taitano, chairwoman of the Legislature’s arts committee and one of the organizers of Guam’s delegation to the FESTPAC, said the task force knew that due to the growing threats of the coronavirus that the postponing of FestPac might be a possibility.

“Locally, the FESTPAC Task Force has already been developing alternative plans for this contingency. The Hawai’i FESTPAC committee is scheduled to meet this Friday to determine how they will move ahead. Our own FESTPAC Committee is awaiting word from them and so that we can organize accordingly,” the senator said.

Despite the postponement, the senator wants to thank the growing number of business partners who agreed to provide support for this year’s FESTPAC delegation.

“Their support has been vital and will still be needed once we have word on a new possible date. Si Yu’os Ma’åse to all our FestPac Guam delegates, their talents in representing the island will still be needed, just at a later date. Our thoughts are with Hawai’i, as I’m sure this was a difficult decision to make, and we await further direction from them,” the senator said.

In 2016, Guam hosted the 12th FESTPAC, which drew about 90,000 visitors. Hawaiʻi will remain the host for the 13th FESTPAC; however, organizers said rescheduled dates will be forthcoming. In the meantime, the FESTPAC Commission will continue its work planning for the historic occasion.

“FESTPAC planning will continue in order to ensure that Hawaiʻi is prepared to be an outstanding host to our Pacific Island cousins and all who participate in this life-changing event,” said Senator J. Kalani English, FESTPAC Hawaiʻi Chairman in a news release. “We want to thank all of our sponsors, supporters, and all those who have expressed interest in helping with FESTPAC Hawaiʻi. Their assistance and ongoing support are critically important because even with this postponement, the festival will come sooner than we think.”

FESTPAC is a traveling festival hosted every four years by a different nation in the Pacific. It was started by the Pacific Community as a means to stem erosion of traditional cultural practices by sharing and exchanging culture at each festival. The first South Pacific Arts Festival was held in Fiji in 1972, and the name and participating nations have evolved into the Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture we know today. Only one festival has been postponed since its inception – the 1984 festival slated for New Caledonia was postponed one year and relocated to French Polynesia due to political unrest.

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