what: the Festival of Pacific Arts brings peoples of the Pacific together in a welcoming and social gathering to exchange cultures for mutual understanding and appreciation of one another's culture.
The first festival was held in Fiji in 1972. Since then, this cultural gathering has taken place every four years to present Pacific culture, an integral part of the daily lives of the Pacific peoples. In 1984, violence and civil unrest prevented the Festival from being held in New Caledonia and it had to be postponed and hosted by French Polynesia the following year. The Festival is today well established and is recognised as being a major international cultural event.
why: the enduring theme of the Festival of Pacific Arts is to be proud of belonging to the Pacific culture and heritage. The Festival wants to create a sense of ‘Pacificness’ among island communities: awareness that although a group of people may reside on tiny atolls, far from island neighbours, they are part of a greater Pacific-wide culture.
how: following these goals, the Festival offers a wide range of activities and exhibitions: body art (in particular tattooing), traditional music and dance, culinary art, traditional sports, floral art, fashion, architecture and design, photography, and much more. Young islanders train long and hard for each festival. To be selected as part of an island's delegation to the festival is a great honour. There are no prizes, and performers do not seek to compete with other, but the festival has stimulated a new sense of cultural pride among islanders young and old, generating excitement, pride and promise for the arts and cultures in the region.
participants: in 2004, the hosting country was Palau. On that occasion the 27 participating Pacific Island countries and territories included: American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
results: the festival is an important instrument in the preservation of Pacific Island cultures and the performing and production skills underlying the variety of cultural expressions. Expertise and skills in arts and crafts has been rediscovered and revitalised. The performing of traditional and ceremonial dances has been recovered, revived and, in some cases, updated. Tourism and related economic developments have become evident and many of these benefit the local communities. Moreover, the initiative enables young contemporary artists and performers to express themselves and their talent, bridging the gap between the cultural expressions of yesterday and the aspirations of today’s youth.