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 festival custodian, the Pacific Community (SPC), and the Council of Pacific Culture and Arts to deliver a fabulous festival.

“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. 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.

So what does it take to make a festival happen? It began eight years earlier, at the 22nd Council of Pacific Arts and Culture meeting convened by SPC in American Samoa, when Guam won the bid to host FestPac 2016. Their long journey was supported every step of the way by the SPC.

Our Culture Unit in our Social Development Programme took a leading role. They worked 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 Organisation meetings held in the region.

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

In 2012, Guam monitored FestPac in the Solomon Islands. SPC’s Pacific Way program broadcast the Festival. At the glittering closing ceremony, Gordon Darcy Lio, Solomon Islands Prime Minister, passed the flag to Lieutenant Governor Tenorio, who said that Guam had “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 Director, Social Development Programme, 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 also met the visiting hosts of FestPac2020, Hawaii.

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

All eyes now turn to Hawaii for FestPac 2020.


FestPac2016 brought record numbers of tourists and participants to Guam
SPC supported Guam with the 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

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