The Hale'iwa Arts Festival Receives
North Shore Chamber of Commerce Community Award
and Certificate of Recognition
from the Hawaii State Legislature

View the Hawaii State Legislature Certificate [PDF]

The North Shore Chamber of Commerce, on December 4, 2008, bestowed their North Shore Kama'aina of the Year award to the Hale'iwa Arts Festival, its founders and supporters, and to its current Executive Director, Gary Anderson, and Event Coordinator, Joan Gossett, for their lasting contributions to Oahu's Historic North Shore community, Hale'iwa, Hawaii.

The Hawaiian word, "kama'aina" literally means "child of the land." This term is used to define native born, but it is also frequently used to identify long time residents, especially those who incorporate the spirit of their neighborhood into their lives.

Joan was born and raised on Oahu, Hawaii, and her husband, Gary, has lived on Oahu for more than forty years. They have resided near Hale'iwa since 1980, and both reflect a true "kama'aina spirit" in their affiliations within Oahu's North Shore community.

Laura Figueira, a long time Hale'iwa Arts Festival board member and a past President of the Board of Directors, gave the tribute speech at this Chamber event. Her text is as follows:

Address by Laura Figueira – December 4, 2008
North Shore Chamber of Commerce Christmas Event

"The theme of tonight's event, Celebrating the Arts on the North Shore, is literally a dream come true for a small group of North Shore residents who, after a preliminary meeting on March 10, 1997 in the Waialua Gym, decided that the idea of an arts festival in Hale'iwa was exciting enough to generate the interest and participation of the larger community.

Led by Tracè Hinckley, a musician and songwriter who was a Pupukea resident at the time, the group sent out an open letter to the community and invited residents, particularly artists and business people, to help organize and produce the first annual Hale'iwa Arts Festival scheduled for the summer of 1998.

The next meeting was held in April and the volunteer group soon swelled to more than 30 people who established the event as a non-profit organization, set a schedule of fundraisers, and drew up guidelines for the participating artists.

On November 25, 1997, the opening line of an article in the Honolulu Advertiser by Tino Ramirez said, "Seven months after suggesting Hale'iwa hold an Arts Festival, Tracè Hinckley is confident it will happen next July."

He quoted Tracè as saying that getting everything into place was time-consuming but a lot was done in a short amount of time. "Hale'iwa is a perfect place for an Arts Festival," Tracè said, "and we have community support and a great group of volunteers bringing things together."

Tracè argued that a summer festival that also included music, dance, and story telling could boost the local economy at a time when business was slow. The Aloha Festivals Executive Director was quoted as saying the Arts Festival had a good chance of becoming a nationally known event with the potential to attract people and money from outside the state.

With the idea for a festival taking shape, Tracè and her supporters took their proposal to the State Legislature. Tracè had kept Senator Robert Bunda informed of her early efforts to organize the community in support of the Arts Festival and he had publicly pledged his support.

At the beginning of the 1998 Legislative session, Senator Bunda introduced a bill asking for an appropriation to help cover the production costs of a festival but there was a reluctance to fund the project on the grounds that it would reduce available funds to other artistic activities already included in the budget of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Tracè and other members of her executive committee testified at the Capitol in support of the request. Senator Bunda argued that he was asking for seed money and unlike many of the other projects, the Arts Festival simply needed help to get off the ground initially and would not be back with repeated funding requests. He successfully lobbied the co-chairs of the Senate Ways and Means Committee to include $10,000 in the budget and the House agreed.

The next article that appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser was headlined "Crowds surprise Hale'iwa Festival". Tracè was quoted as being a bit stunned by the festival's success. "We didn't know it would be like this," she said.

An estimated 5,000 people attended the festival on July 18 & 19, 1998. Merchants were thrilled with the increased business, restaurants sold out of pizza and ice cream, artists were happy with their sales, and the town of Hale'iwa had a new addition to its list of attractions. The Advertiser article ended with Tracè saying "The festival really belongs to the community. It really does take a village."

It is befitting that the Chamber chose to honor the Hale'iwa Arts Festival tonight for it has made a positive impact on the community and hopefully, will continue to do so for many more years. But there are two major personalities that have secured the continued existence of the Hale'iwa Arts Festival; the first is Gary Anderson, and the second is Joan Gossett, who has mere minutes of seniority over Gary.

As Joan tells it, she read about a proposed Arts festival organizational meeting in the North Shore News back in 1997 and thought it might be a good way to get involved with something artistic in her own community and avoid the trips to town. On her way home from the vet with two dogs in the back of her car, she could only stay long enough to say "count me in." Later that afternoon she got the call that she had been "volunteered" as the event coordinator. It was only natural for her to volunteer Gary in much the same manner and the dynamic duo was born.

Joan was with Tracè for most of the organizational challenges, including the lobbying at the State Capitol. That was my first exposure to her energy level that makes everyone else around her appear to be standing still. As the Festival Event coordinator, she has to attend to countless details. She can instill urgency in any situation and can just as easily dismiss it as completely taken care of...done.

It is clear to all of us associated with the Arts Festival, that Joan is the driving force behind the production; she is literally hell on golf cart wheels. Things would not run as smoothly or perhaps not run at all if it were not for the energy and attention to detail that is her trademark.

Gary is her perfect counterweight. His calm approach to the most critical problem is half the solution. He takes everything in stride and seems to be almost unflappable in the face of festival adversity. During the rest of the fiscal year, Gary handles the Arts Festival web site, grant applications, and general bookkeeping that comes with managing a non-profit organization.

I have no doubt that the reason there is still a Hale'iwa Arts Festival each year is because Gary and Joan have chosen to devote yet another year doing what they do best...the seamless organization of a complicated event.

It is fortunate for the Festival that this husband and wife team of 28 years has a wealth of experience in theatrical productions, conventions, and special events coordination. It is experience that is perfectly suited to the Hale'iwa Arts Festival production. Their combined expertise and experience is largely responsible for the continued success of the Festival.

From the dream stage to the eleventh consecutive year this past summer, we have witnessed a phenomenon that is the Hale'iwa Arts Festival.

On behalf of those of us in the community who have served as Board members and officers of the Festival, and those that have volunteered at the Festivals over the years, many of whom are here tonight, I would like to extend our congratulations to Gary, Joan, and the Hale'iwa Arts Festival on the Kama'aina of the Year award.

Mahalo to the Chamber of Commerce for selecting such deserving recipients which truly is a celebration of the arts on the North Shore."

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