Senate committee defers measure that would have slashed arts funding

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A Senate committee on Tuesday killed a bill that would have drastically overhauled how a state arts agency receives funding from the percent-for-art law.

Hawaiʻi was the first state in the U.S. to adopt the law in 1967. It requires 1% of construction or renovation costs from state buildings to go to the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, an agency that runs the public museum and arts programs.

Art advocates opposing HB1807 stood outside the hearing room at the state Capitol on March 19, 2024.

House Bill 1807 would have excluded renovations from the law, which, according to Executive Director Karen Ewald, would have caused the SFCA to lose 68% of its income.

Artists came out in full force to oppose the measure, which they said would slash arts programs that support artists across the state.

Sen. Chris Lee, who chairs the Senate Transportation and Culture and the Arts Committee, said stakeholders should be involved in determining what funding for the arts would look like.

“We want to hear from you guys not just today in moments like this, but throughout the session and every year from all walks of life,” he said. “Because we’re all members of the same community.”

How did we get here? Catch up on past coverage from HPR’s Cassie Ordonio:

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