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Arts foundation leader resigns in flap over misuse of photo

By Marcel Honoré

LAST UPDATED: 02:54 a.m. HST, Nov 21, 2013

The executive director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts has opted to resign following the group's recent, admitted misuse of a photo of a Hawaiian icon, according to the foundation chairwoman.

Eva Laird Smith informed the board commission during its executive session Wednesday that she would resign effective Dec. 31, according to commission Chairwoman Barbara Saromines-Ganne.  

The board did not ask Laird Smith to resign, Saromines-Ganne said.

However, the move came after the commission's impassioned, emotionally charged public meeting Wednesday regarding the foundation's improper use of a photo of revered Hawaiian hula kumu 'Iolani Luahine to plug Hawai'I Fashion Month and to sell coffee mugs, T-shirts, tote bags and other merchandise.

Saromines-Ganne said the board intended to investigate the incident, which left many local artists deeply concerned and many in the native Hawaiian community outraged.

Saromines-Ganne added that she hoped that Laird Smith's resignation would help the foundation to regain the confidence of many in the local artist and native Hawaiian circles.

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Arts director quits over photo misuse

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Anonymous wrote:
Who owned the copyright? Is this a matter of bad taste or of law?
on November 20,2013 | 09:05PM
Tony91 wrote:
This is the tip of a big iceberg. The entire "Hawaii Fashion Month" was a gigantic waste of taxpayer dollars. Sen. Will Espero cockroached nearly $200,000 of our tax dollars to support this silly event that this artwork was used for.
on November 20,2013 | 09:30PM
Keith_Rollman wrote:
The PC fanatics are eating their own.
on November 20,2013 | 09:52PM
eros_et_logia wrote:
on November 20,2013 | 10:18PM
Too_Much_Pilikia wrote:
Elevating a human being to near deity status is crazy. Hawaiians don't have more important things to worry about? What a waste of tax dollars.
on November 21,2013 | 12:28AM
mitt_grund wrote:
A couple of issues here. Francis Haar, as the photographer appears to have the copyright on the photo. Was his permission secured for use of the photo for the event and on paraphernalia sold at the event?

Second, was there a written or spoken agreement as to the use of the photo between Haar and Luahine, with a written agreement being preferable.

And, thirdly, was the use of the photo applicable to the nature of the event? The use of a revered kumu hula in a fashion venue would seem to be a non sequitur. The use of her image on coffee cups, irreverent -- treating her image and memory as a commercial commodity. The last appears to be the basis for outrage here, but would be interesting to find out the answer to the first two issues.

on November 21,2013 | 01:35AM
mitt_grund wrote:
The photographer Francis Haar died December 22, 1997. So, copyright may reside with either his family or if a contracted work, with the entity that commissioned the work. However, the UH was given a grant, for preservation purposes, to make contact prints of 261 negatives, constituting a photographic essay on the dances of Hawaii. The photos originally were taken as part of a combined effort by Haar, the late Carl Woltz (UH Dance Dept.), and Professor Emerita Barbara Smith (UH Music Dept.), to culminate in a work to be entitled Hawaii Dances. The work was never finished. Since the negatives reside as part of the Francis Haar Collection (at the UH Hamilton Library?), the UHM may have the copyright. Same first two questions would still apply. If the current copyright holder released the photo for commercial use, some of the responsibility would lie with whoever or whatever it is. Lynn Ann Davis, head of the Library's Preservation Department, oversaw the preservation effort. Source: HNLnow.com
on November 21,2013 | 02:09AM
skmura wrote:
Being the executive director of a state agency takes more than someone who has organizational skills so that the day to day functions well. The ED of the State Foundation for CULTURE and the ARTS must also have as wide and as deep a background in the multiethnic, multi cultural forces in the Hawaiian art community as possible to be able to advocate for all art groups here. Knowing the relationships, histories and the politics involved with dealing with various situations requires intelligence, sensitivity and knowledge and a willingness to learn. I sincerely hope that the next Executive Director will possess all those traits to give this extremely important agency the leadership it deserves and needs.
on November 21,2013 | 03:11AM
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