High Art Means Big Business

New ‘Hawaii Arts Season’ plan will consolidate offerings into one season

By: Marty Wentzel

Think Spoleto Festival with palm trees. That’s the gist of the latest brainchild from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the group charged with growing the state’s visitor industry.

Called the Hawaii Arts Season (HAS), the new plan consolidates Hawaii’s arts and cultural events into a two-month period each spring, when island tourism traditionally lags. If successful, HAS will boost Hawaii’s cultural profile in the eyes of its visitors.

Granted, a few Hawaii hotels have already been steering clients toward Hawaii’s arts scene in recent years. Halekulani, for instance, promotes a program called “For You, Everything,” providing guests of the Waikiki hotel with free tickets to the Bishop Museum, Contemporary Museum, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu Symphony and Iolani Palace.

The point of HAS, however, is collaboration, said Hawaii Tourism Authority marketing director Frank Haas, noting that members of the travel industry can incorporate the season’s special events into their product offerings.

“Hawaii is rich with arts and cultural offerings, but not many visitors are aware of them,” said Haas. “The Hawaii Arts Season program is a way to creatively package them and encourage travel to Hawaii.”

Running from late February through early May 2004, the inaugural HAS blends plays, concerts, exhibits, performances and festivals from around the state. Venues range from traditional halls like the Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall in Honolulu and Maui Arts and Cultural Center, to college and community theaters, galleries, museums and amphitheaters.

Haas said the tourism authority will market HAS using leisure marketing budgets, with the support of travel wholesalers.

The local tourism industry is jumping on the bandwagon in support of HAS.

Outrigger Waikiki is creating a package including admission to an Impressionism exhibit at the Academy of Arts and a commemorative art print. Aston Hotels and Resorts is providing guests with free admittance to the Contemporary Museum for one week in April. E Noa Tours is developing downtown Honolulu arts tours using its existing Waikiki Trolley service.