Story by Rita Goldman
Each year, Celebration of the Arts brings to the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, an authentic experience of hula, chant, ceremony and song, workshops and demonstrations on Hawaiian arts and crafts. All activities are open to the public, and all but Sunday’s legendary lu‘au are free.
One of Maui’s most popular annual events, the Celebration is dedicated to bringing Hawaiian culture from the past into the present. If the Ritz-Carlton’s cultural advisor, Clifford Nae‘ole, has his way, this year’s Celebration will challenge Hawaiians to bring that culture from the present into the future, in areas as diverse as science and fashion. (Think kapa-and-native-drumbeats meets rock-and-New-York-couture.)
With its many opportunities for participation and discovery, Celebration of the Arts is as much about fun and connection as it is about learning. The event has its serious side, as well, with panel discussions exploring issues important to Native Hawaiians and other islanders.
One such topic is the controversial plan to build the world’s largest solar telescope atop Haleakala, considered sacred by many Hawaiians. Nae‘ole hopes to create a forum for opposing sides to listen to one another, and establish a discussion that will continue long after the weekend concludes. “The real success of Celebration of the Arts,” he says, “is what happens after.”
This year’s Celebration runs April 2 through 4. For details, visit www.celebrationofthearts.org.