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Audiences are gathering in local theatres again to share films, musicals and more

oliver diamond head theatre.jpg
Diamond Head Theatre
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"Oliver!" at Diamond Head Theatre (Oct. 25, 2021)

Some beloved local cultural institutions depend on people gathering in theatres. As pandemic restrictions ease, let's check in on some of those institutions.

The Hawaiʻi International Film Festival is underway right now, for the first time in two years with people gathering in darkened theatres beneath the silver screen. The festival had gone mostly virtual in 2020.

This year's event is mostly in-person with some streaming. HIFF executive director Beckie Stocchetti told PBN this year has actually been tougher than last year.

It costs more and requires more volunteers to put on an in-person festival, but at the same time there are still capacity limits that cut into revenue from the screenings — and sponsorships have been harder to secure as businesses face their own hardships.

Still, she said, one thing that was up from 2020 was the number of film submissions — at 275. The current festival is showing 100 short films and 123 feature-length films.

For other island art nonprofits that serve audiences, the sense is that things are turning around.

Diamond Head Theatre is now just $600,000 away from its fundraising goal of $22.3 million for its new building, now under construction. Meanwhile, ticket sales for “Elf the Music,” the theatre’s Christmas show, are strong if not quite at pre-pandemic levels.

The Hawaiʻi State Theatre Council normally supports Hawaiʻi’s community theatres through its annual theatre awards program.

President Donna Blanchard, who is also executive director of Kumu Kahua Theatre, said the organization shifted direction to offer more proactive business assistance, such as helping members secure grants, develop marketing strategies, cross-promote their shows, and more.

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