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Why hasn’t KCC theater reopened?

We are only sending this letter to the press after multiple attempts to work through the Hawai‘i university system and after contacting our elected officials. After more than six months, we’ve had no response on this issue.

I am writing on behalf of Kauai Concert Association, but more broadly on behalf of the entire Kaua‘i community.

For the third time since I have lived on Kaua‘i (17 years), the Kaua‘i Community College Performing Arts Center is closed, with no definite timeline for re-opening. It has been closed more than half of the last nine years so far.

The KCC PAC has been KCA’s primary performance venue for over 40 years. It is by far the finest stage on the island based on appearance, acoustics, capabilities and location. It has a concert-size Steinway piano in prime condition, which is a requirement of many of the professional musicians we host.

It has professional sound and lighting along, with the staffing to operate those systems. Other venues on the island have one or more of the following limitations: too small of a capacity, bad acoustics, no staff to help with production, outdoor seating only, non-central location and more. There literally is no close second to the KCC PAC for performances on Kaua‘i.

The Kaua‘i Concert Association is not the only organization that relies on the PAC being functional. The PAC is used by at least two theater companies. Several hula halau perform there. Many unions and employer groups hold meetings there. When world-famous artists tour Hawai‘i, it is the only venue at which they will perform on Kaua‘i. Pageants are held there. Kauai Chorale uses the PAC for its twice-yearly concerts. The Island School Chorus does all its shows there. Sarah Tochiki has three major orchestras that perform there. When KCC does its own musical or theatrical productions, they are held in the PAC.

And these are just the groups of which I am aware.

From a University of Hawai‘i perspective, the KCC PAC is just one more college theater that must be maintained.

On the Garden Island of Kaua‘i, however, the KCC PAC is an invaluable community resource that has no replacement.

We have tried in good faith to find out why the PAC is closed and when it will re-open. We have received no clarity from UH staff on either. The reason it has been closed has been blamed on a range of things — from staffing to OSHA violations. But no one will comment on the record about exactly why it is closed.

We have been told the soonest it would reopen is fall of 2023, but even that sounds ambitious since whatever the problem is, no work toward a solution has been initiated.

We have even heard that repairs may require special legislative funding.

Again, all of this is based on rumor and innuendo because we can get no official response from the UH system employees. We have even offered to help with funding by initiating a GoFundMe. We were thanked for that offer but encouraged to continue to work through official channels. We have tried that for months. It has gotten us no closer to any clear answers or resolution.

This is unacceptable to the people of Kaua‘i — from keiki to kupuna.

We along with our community partners are calling on UH leadership to give the Kaua‘i community clear answers on why the KCC PAC is indefinitely closed and what the timeline is for getting the facility opened and running again.

COVID-19 really frayed the fabric of society worldwide. As this tiny island struggles to find some new normal and re-establish community, we need the PAC open to facilitate this. By involving the entire Kaua‘i community, we can help get the PAC re-opened faster than anyone ever imagined.

We await a prompt and official response.

•••

Jason Blake is the president of Kaua‘i Concert Association.
Source: The Garden Island

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