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Miami – On behalf of Americans for the Arts and the US Conference of Mayors, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann today presented singer and songwriter Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio Estefan, Jr. with National Awards for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, in recognition of their contributions as artists and humanitarians and their life-long support of music.


            Known as the “Queen of Latin Pop,” Gloria Estefan has received five Grammy Awards and is among the top 100 best selling music artists, with over 90 million albums sold worldwide and 15.5 million in the US. Emilio Estefan, Jr. is a musician and producer who also received five Grammy Awards, and serves on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.


            Mayor Hannemann also presented a National Award for Local Arts Leadership to Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman for championing the arts as a means of spurring downtown revitalization; and presented a National Award for State Arts Leadership to Missouri Governor Matt Blunt for steadily increasing the annual appropriations for the arts in that state.


            Mayor Hannemann presented the awards during the USCM’s annual meeting, where he also participated today in a strategy session on ways the new US presidential administration can work with the nation’s mayors to implement a Ten-Point Plan for addressing issues that affect Americans in our cities. As a result of Mayor Hannemann’s efforts, the plan includes support for tourism and the arts, and calls for the creation of a Cabinet-level Secretary of Culture and Tourism charged with forming a national policy for arts, culture and tourism.


During today’s strategy session, Mayor Hannemann led a discussion focused on tourism and the arts in his capacity as chairman of the USCM Standing Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports. One outcome of today’s session was an announcement that Mayor Hannemann and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will spearhead a new task force of mayors and private sector organizations to support Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. In supporting Chicago, the idea is to also launch a “Discover America” campaign to invite international visitors to the Olympics to also visit other US cities, such as Honolulu.


Mayor Hannemann also urged the mayors to continue to support the Travel Promotion Act that Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye has championed, which includes an international tourism marketing campaign and provides the Cabinet-level position for tourism. Mayor Hannemann also urged the mayors to continue backing an expansion of the US Visa Waiver Program and the streamlining of US entry requirements.


            Earlier in the week, Mayor Hannemann met on Saturday with US Senator Barack Obama, who addressed the conference and later reiterated to Mayor Hannemann his support for Honolulu’s rail mass transit system, which is scheduled to begin undergoing construction next year and is expected to receive some $900 million in federal support.


With respect to the arts, Mayor Hannemann had testified in April before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies on the value of community-based nonprofit organizations to the economy and social wellbeing of cities across America. Mayor Hannemann and other advocates urged the panel to restore a $176 million budget for the National Endowment for the Arts, after cuts in previous years.


As a result of such efforts, it was reported today that the subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Washington), has recommended an additional $15 million in support for the arts. Hannemann urged the USCM to support the increase when it goes before the full House and later to the Senate.


The USCM on Saturday presented Mayor Hannemann with a City Livability Award for Outstanding Achievement in recognition of the City’s outstanding vision and leadership in revitalizing Honolulu’s historic Chinatown to attract artists and new businesses, while preserving this vibrant neighborhood’s unique culture.


On Friday, the USCM presented Mayor Hannemann with the 2008 Mayors Climate Protection Award for Outstanding Achievement, in recognition of Honolulu’s 21st Century Ahupuaa environmental protection program.


In other business before the USCM today, the group approved a resolution authored by Mayor Hannemann that called for the President and the Congress to provide additional funding and tools to create, promote and expand public transportation and other mobility opportunities.


The group also approved a resolution supporting US-flag cruise ships after Mayor Hannemann succeeded in amending it to protect cruise ships operating in Hawaiian waters. Mayor Hannemann’s amendment addresses the concerns of mainland ports while protecting the interests of US-flag shipping in Hawaii.


            Mayor Hannemann will return to Honolulu tomorrow.


Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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