By Lori Lyn Lirio
IN A bid to promote the culture and arts of Pacific islanders, Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands Governor Ralph DLG Torres on Thursday gave US$50,000 to the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture for its Flame Tree Arts Festival on April 26 to 29.
At the same time, Torres and Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog have signed a proclamation designating April 26-29, 2018 as 37th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival Week.
The funds will be used to fund the canoe project and other cultural activities that encompass in the festival celebration, which will be held at the Civic Center Park.
In an interview, Gov. Torres said they have been providing funds for the festival every year.
“We want to put more resources to continue this project, to continue promoting our culture through this festival,” he said.
In emphasizing the importance of the festival, Hocog said the festival is the platform to display CNMI culture and arts.
“In order for community to stay strong and be recognized and move forward, we should display our knowledge in the field of arts,” Hocog said.
Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter said they have never received any donation for the Flame Tree Arts Festival from past administrations.
“This is the most support we have ever gotten for the arts,” Hunter said adding that the support from the administration was not just for the festival.
Moreover, Hunter said the governor also initiated the restoration of the seafaring program.
“We had that once, but it died down when there was economic recession. This new version is the governor’s idea,” he said.
“He attended the Festival of the Pacific in Guam and when he came back he made the resources available for the canoe program.”
Three high school students read the proclamation statement, which was written in three languages – English, Refaluwasch and Chamorro.
Marie Omar read the English version, Davian Sato read the proclamation in Refaluwasch and Brinae Cruz read the statement in Chamorro.
The proclamation recognized that the people in the CNMI have a rich cultural heritage with performing arts, traditional crafts, visual arts, and literary arts all central to the human experience.
“The identity of our people, as a commonwealth, is expressed through our arts and culture,” the proclamation said.
The 37th annual Flame Tree Arts Festival gives opportunity to indigenous artists to demonstrate their skills and exhibit their art forms, it added.
According to Hunter, the Flame Tree festival will start at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, with seafaring traditional program ribbon cutting, followed by the official opening ceremony at 5 p.m.
On April 27, the Flame Tree festival will be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; April 26 – 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.; April 29 – 2p.m. to 11 p.m.