Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society, Inc. (Honolulu, HI)


African American girl in the classroom working on a red and white traditional drape on a table in front of her

Students of W.R. Farrington High School working on their kihei, a traditional Hawaiian drape, as part of a Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society class.  Photo courtesy of the Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society

Since 1975, the Kalihi-Palama Culture & Arts Society has designed arts and cultural programs that benefit its low- to moderate-income, inner-city community.  One of the oldest community-based nonprofits in Hawaii, the organization annually reaches 365 children through classes, workshops, seminars, festivals, and demonstrations, all of which focus on the Pacific’s distinct arts and culture. 

In FY 2005, Kalihi-Palama received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $10,000 to provide classes on folk and traditional dance and crafts, including hula and Polynesian dance, classical Okinawan dance, Filipino dance, Samoan traditional dance and crafts, and ceramics.  Classes were held weekly for 35-50 weeks at community centers and parks, as well as after school during the school year at area public elementary and middle schools.  For 2005, Kalihi-Palama held classes in ten public schools with class size ranging from ten to more than 25 students.  Taught by native master artisans, these classes not only provide necessary instruction on each art form, but also cultural background on the art form’s place within the Pacific region’s culture.  Although the programs welcome students of all ages, the focus is primarily on youth, and classes are provided free of charge since many families in the area do not have the resources to pay for after-school programs.

The interest in the arts and appreciation for their heritage that these programs generate among young people is invaluable, but even more important, the activities provide a positive, structured environment that otherwise would be missing in the community.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)