The committee and delegates for the upcoming Festival of the Pacific met to discuss their participation and other requirements on the upcoming festival last Friday.
According to committee chair John Gonzales, this year will see the largest delegation ever from the CNMI with 250 individuals representing the Commonwealth in what is touted as the “Olympics of the Pacific Arts.”
Gonzales said other islands, such as American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, and Hawaii, will only have 100 delegates.
The committee reminded the delegates that their commitment and participation is very important as they will be representing the islands among the rest.
This year, the FestPac committee will need a budget of $180,000 for their 17-day trip to the host country, Guam. The festival itself will be from May 22 to June 4.
Most of the budget will go to airfare as they are looking at chartering a plane, and to their Parade of Nations uniforms, other materials, as well as national gifts for each of the 30 participating nations.
“We have to have charter flights because there’s 250 of us and Cape Air only has so many seats,” Gonzales said.
According to Gonzales, they have reached out to the Legislature and the Marianas Visitors Authority, as well as some private companies, to provide part of their needs.
Each of the delegates and the group as one will also hold their own fundraising efforts.
For the first time, a non-profit organization for the FestPac will be established.
“The non-profit organization is critical in order to be the endowment arm of our efforts to preserve our culture, indigenous and contemporary culture. The government can only do so much. The non-profit is able to request, solicit for foundation funds and that’s why it’s critical to do that,” Gonzales said.
He added that the organization will be there to provide continuity with regards to preserving culture.
“Thanks to the leadership of the Arts Council director [Angel Hocog] and the organizing committee, that again for the first time in history, we are able to charter that purpose as well as provide continuity in raising funds and providing resources so that we can tap our talented artists, elderly and the young ones to perpetuate the culture through cultural demonstration, classes and learning opportunities throughout the whole year, in between FestPac,” Gonzales said.
Hocog called on the public to support the delegates especially in their fundraising efforts.
“If they see the official delegates coming to their door, support them. The money will be used for a great cause. I also wanted to thank the steering committee because they are putting up a lot of work,” Hocog said.
The delegates will be featured in different local events prior to FestPac starting with the Thursday Street Market every week for the residents to have an awareness of what will the delegates be presenting on behalf of the CNMI.
“We’re hoping to feature our official delegates beginning with the Flame Tree Arts Festival, Taste of the Marianas, also we’re going to invite MVA to promote our delegation abroad in our off-shore marketing media and tourism partners,” Gonzales said.