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CNMI WON’T ATTEND PACIFIC ARTS FESTIVAL IN SOLOMONS Arts Council decided funding not available to send delegation

By Clarissa David SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 12, 2012) – In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture has decided that it will not be sending a CNMI delegation to the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts in the Solomon Islands this July.

Executive director Angel S. Hocog said yesterday that the Arts Council made its final decision after several meetings with a number of registered visual and performing artists who expressed interest in participating in the festival.

Hocog disclosed that a major factor in their decision is the lack of funds to send even at least a few registered artists from the CNMI.

"It is unfortunate that the CNMI will not have a delegation to the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts. The government does not have enough funding to shoulder the expenses for the artists' airfares," he told Saipan Tribune.

Although Solomon Islands, the host island, will finance the accommodations for the CNMI delegates, Hocog noted that the Council could not find a local sponsor for the delegates' airline tickets.

Each delegate would need about $3,000 for airfare.

This would be the second time that the Commonwealth will not be represented at the traveling festival.

Established by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in 1972, the Festival of Pacific Arts is hosted by a different country in Oceania every four years to stem erosion of traditional cultural practices by sharing and exchanging cultures.

This year's theme is "Culture in Harmony with Nature."

The last the time the CNMI sent a delegation to the Festival of Pacific Arts was in 2004 in Koror, Palau. It missed the 10th year of the festival held in American Samoa in 2008.

Hocog remains optimistic that the Council, in collaboration with the local government, will be able to send a CNMI delegation to Guam in 2016 for the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts.

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