DCCA: There’s still a long ways to go

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The Man Antigu dancers perform a traditional Chamorro dance during the final day of the Flame Tree Arts Festival last Sunday (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs pulled through with their promise to bring back the grandeur of the annual Flame Tree Arts Festival but improvements are still well on the way.

The DCCA pulled out all the stops to make the 37th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival as great as they possibly could. The over $80,000 production was nothing short of extravagant with live video from start to finish for all four days, over 80 booths, and participation of artists from Saipan, Tinian, Guam, and more.

Even though the festival was the largest Flame Tree Arts Festival seen in a long while, DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter has plans for further improvement.

“We still have a ways to go…this was wonderful and this was a step in the right direction but like I said, we have already been talking about major changes to next year’s festival…there’s much more we want to do,” he said.

The biggest improvement DCCA is working on for next year’s Flame Tree Arts Festival is working on securing permanent festival grounds.

“What we really need is a permanent festival site…so we don’t need to keep taking in and out all these logistical stuff like the stages and tents because it costs a fortune and it all comes down in a couple of days,” he said.

Aside from cutting down on costs, permanent festival grounds can open up doors for more festivals in the CNMI both for artists to showcase their work and as a tourist destination.

Hunter said he has already started scouting possible areas to establish permanent festival grounds but he has his eye on the Civic Center.

“We want a site that is by the beach because of the canoes…so right off the bat this [Civic Center] seems like a good site. The design of it…it seems kind of perfect here…it’s a natural first choice,” he said.

When asked if it’s possible to take Civic Center and make it a permanent festival site, Hunter said that anything is possible.

“But we’ve got to talk to Parks and Recs [Recreation], Department of Public Lands, and all the people who have investments here [Civic Center] but I think it is time…” he said.

Hunter said it is the perfect time to establish a permanent festival site due to the bill that was recently passed to exempt local artists from paying taxes.

“We just had this tax incentive bill for artists so it would be great to have permanent booths along here where they can go and work and people can stop by…tourists and residents alike,” he said.

The Flame Tree Arts Festival ended on Sunday and gathered over 1,000 community members every night for the past four nights.

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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