Every four years, the Pacific region holds a vibrant Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPac). In 2016, the 12th FestPac took place in Guam from 22 May to 4 June, bringing 2500 participants and a record number of tourists to the island. Guam worked with the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Council of Pacific Culture and Arts to deliver a fabulous event.

‘These two weeks have been nothing short of amazing’, said Ray Tenorio, Lieutenant Governor of Guam.

‘Nothing could have prepared us for the pride that filled our hearts for being part of such a strong and resilient people of the Blue Continent’ Mr Tenorio continued. ‘Nothing could prepare us for the excitement we felt from delving further into our histories and our traditions … the experience itself, the experience of getting to know your roots along with your fellow islanders, is indescribable’, he said.

Eight years earlier, at the 22nd Council of Pacific Arts and Culture Meeting convened by SPC in American Samoa, Guam won the bid to host FestPac 2016. Their long journey was supported every step of the way by the Pacific Community.

SPC worked closely with Letila Mitchell, an experienced arts manager and artist from Fiji, to revise the festival organisers’ manual for Guam, providing a detailed guide to managing the festival, covering timelines, financial and legal aspects, human resources, merchandising and accreditation. SPC shared its resources for protecting intellectual property rights, including festival trademarks and broadcasts. SPC also facilitated Guam’s participation in World Intellectual Property Organization meetings held in the region.

SPC supported Guam in a range of other areas, including coordinating meetings with Pacific Ministers of Culture and the Council of Pacific Arts and Culture. These are complex logistical events, involving accommodation, transport, travel and immigration, public health, biosecurity, broadcasting, translation and interpretation services.

In 2012, Guam kept a close eye on FestPac in the Solomon Islands. SPC’s Pacific Way programme broadcast the festival. At the glittering closing ceremony, Gordon Darcy Lio, Solomon Islands’ former Prime Minister, passed the flag to Lieutenant Governor Tenorio, who said, ‘[we have]our work cut out for us!’

In 2013, Guam created a Trademark Commission, ensuring that Chamorro arts revitalised for the Festival would be valued and not reproduced without authorisation.

In May 2015, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago-Elisara, SPC’s Social Development Programme Director, and Elise Huffer, SPC Culture Advisor, visited the Organising Committee and key stakeholders in Guam. They reviewed venues and accommodation and met with Eddie Baza Calvo, Governor of Guam, and Christine M. S. Calvo First Lady of Guam and Honorary Chair of the festival Organising Committee. In February 2016, Elise Huffer visited Guam again, where she met the visiting hosts of FestPac 2020, Hawaii.

SPC promoted the festival regionally and internationally. Print media published 150 stories, and national and regional radio and television broadcasts and social media buzzed with FestPac fever.

All eyes now turn to Hawaii for FestPac 2020.

Highlights:
  • FestPac 2016 brought record numbers of tourists and participants to Guam.
  • SPC supported Guam with lengthy and complex festival preparations.
  • Guam made sure to protect its intellectual and cultural property, including setting up a Trade Commission to preserve Chamorro arts.
Related links:
Festpac 2016 on Youtube