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Learning to Surf in 2021

What a challenging, exciting, frustrating, disappointing, and somehow productive year! We have been learning to surf the waves of the pandemic while building new skills and exploring new ideas… all the while trying to keep everyone involved healthy.


The launch of Kahilu.TV at the end of 2020 turned out to be perfectly timed to allow us to stay connected with you, our community, and with our treasured artists. Thank you to our early subscribers! You trusted us in the beginning of the year with a vote of faith in our new digital platform. There weren’t many offerings those first few months, but we are proud to report that we are closing 2021 with more than 200 shows, dances, films, documentaries, episodes of original series, art exhibitions, talk stories with artists, and our first educational livestream into 25 schools with tutorials by the musical masters of our 19th Annual ‘Ukulele and Slack Key Guitar Festival.


During the months Kahilu Theatre was closed for in-person performances, we built our capacity and skills in digital production, streaming “LIVE from the stage of Kahilu Theatre.”


Our steadfast partners at the Mauna Kea Beach Resort supported us by offering us a beautiful outdoor area to safely stage some of our performances for small audiences. We used those shows to cut our teeth on learning the requisite skills to professionally livestream concerts from a remote location.


Our spirits were buoyed last May when we kicked off our return to live theater with a poignant, intimate concert by Robert Cazimero with an audience of 100 in our 490-seat theatre. That was followed by an encouraging summer featuring a series of concerts with small numbers of socially-distanced audience members. We were able to host the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival and to run all of our summer arts and culture camps for keiki. We even got through rehearsals for the postponed production of “Matilda.” 


It was all looking so promising until the end of August, when the Delta variant of COVID reached our shores. It’s history now, but as you know, we closed the theatre again in September and October, and cancelled “Matilda”, an art exhibition, theatre and dance classes, and so many other plans.


We began to build back to in-person audiences in November and December. Kahilu.TV’s subscriber base increased along with our content, and people started tuning in from Japan, Europe, and the mainland.


As we enter a New Year with optimism and gratitude, we send you our thanks. You have been there for us, and because of that, we have been able to create a viable alternative avenue to experience live performances and exhibitions. What does the future hold? No one knows, but we have an exciting lineup of live, recorded, educational, and inspiring productions and programs ready for you in 2022— in-person and LIVE from the stage of Kahilu Theatre via Kahilu.TV. Thank you for being on this journey with us. 


We hope you join us, and we wish you and your family a happy, healthy 2022. 


Mahalo nui loa,


Sara Nealy                   Chuck Gessert
Executive Director        Artistic Director

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