Kona Brewer’s Festival Beneficiary Profile: Society for Kona’s Education & Art

We interviewed Susan Rice, the Executive Director at the Society for Kona’s Education & Art, to learn more about the arts and educational nonprofit and find out how the community can help and participate in the Society and its many programs.

SKEA will be directing funds raised at the Kona Brewer’s Festival towards their Art Camps for children aged 5-13 from South Kona and Kau, which aim to increase the availability for culturally enriching activities for children and youth and stimulate creative thinking and improve communication skills.

SKEA also has a solar project now underway. By the end of February, a lot of their activity will powered by solar!

When was SKEA founded?

Founded in 1981 by a group of young families who wanted to provide education in the arts for their own and others’ children, SKEA now provides activities in the arts to over 1200 children each year, through two major programs: the Art of Learning, which brings teaching artists into Kona schools for curriculum based art projects; and Art Camps, fun weeks of creative activities during the school breaks.

What are some of SKEA’s proudest moments and biggest successes?

Our biggest successes come from our programs. SKEA is dedicated to providing excellent activities in the arts for children at a reasonable cost. The Art of Learning is free to the schools and the tuition for Art Camps is very reasonable, thanks to the loyal support from funders like the Kona Brewers’ Festival. We regularly receive very positive feedback from classroom teachers and parents who evaluate our programs.

The work that SKEA does in local schools and their center in Honaunau, South Kona, provides education and projects for children in the arts that would not happen otherwise.

What are some of the biggest/most exciting challenges ahead?

Challenges abound in the non-profit world. Obtaining enough money to run the programs and maintain the property and two historic (and very old) buildings at our site are our biggest challenges. SKEA keeps overhead very low and earns money through fundraising and other endeavors, but it is never enough and therefore we are grateful for the support of individual donors and grantors from private foundations and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Another challenge that we face is our location-it is a mixed blessing. SKEA is in a rural, mauka area about 20 miles from the population center of Kailua Kona. It is beautiful up here, but it is hard to get people from the makai areas to make the journey. However, we are in a community that has few resources, and so our activities are greatly appreciated and supported by the local residents.

And how do you plan to face those challenges?

We can’t do anything about our location, and so we are making improvements to our facility so that it is a delightful, ‘old Hawai‘i’ place to take a class or have an event. The funding issues are a universal challenge for non-profits; we will continue to watch our expenses and to hold our own fundraising events and to help at other events like the Kona Brewers’ Festival.

The work that SKEA does in local schools and their center in Honaunau, South Kona, provides education and projects for children in the arts that would not happen otherwise.

How can the community help/get involved?

SKEA is always open to the participation of new people. Our facility is available for people to use for their own programs, such as classes or small events, that are within our mission. Currently we have classes in tai chi, Pilates, hula, ukulele, and yoga, and small groups that meet for printmaking, sumi-e, and quilting. (See the calendar of events.) We encourage membership in the organization, and individual donations are always welcome. 84% of our budget goes to programs.