EHCC to Honor Founder Frances Chang Sherrard

The East Hawaiʻi Cultural Center will honor the former President of the East Hawai’i Cultural Council, Frances Chang Sherrard, at a ceremony marking the opening of the exhibit Expression of the Female Deity on Friday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m. The exhibit is a retrospective of artist Mayumi Odaʻs work, including silk screen, wood block, intaglio, and calligraphic art that will be on display throughout the month of May at EHCC, located at 141 Kalākaua Street.
The public is invited to the ceremony marking Sherrardʻs vision to create a Hilo cultural nexus. Her efforts began in the late 1960ʻs when she lobbied the County Council to transfer stewardship of the Center to culture and arts organizations. The Public Works Committee of the County Council nixed the idea in July of 1978, but Sherrard and representative organizations persisted.
The Honolulu Advertiser reported in 1978 that then-Councilman James Dahlberg said, “We have given the shaft to the arts and cultural commuity.... Itʻs shameful what we have done.” But, eventually, the Center won approval and the lease changed hands in 1980.
Sherrard served for years as the Chair of the Center, noting in a newspaper interview in 1980 that, “We see it as a means of creating a stimulating environment, conducive to the development of a creative citizenry.” The EHCC team landed a grant of $50,000 from the State of Hawai’i to renovate the former District Courthouse and Police Station, beginning with getting rid of termites and reinforcing the aged structure. Under a dollar-a-year lease with the County of Hawaiʻi, the Center was granted status on the State and National Register for Historic Places in 1979, and continues today as a locus for visual and performing arts in downtown Hilo.
An interesting display of newspaper articles and other material chronicling the colorful early years will be shared when Sherrard is recognized on May 3 rd . The information was given to an EHCC Board Member by the late journalist, Hugh Clark, who tracked and filed information on the arts on the Big Island for decades. One such item noted, “During the Mayorʻs race two years ago, unsuccessful candidate Dante Carpenter said he would move the Mayorʻs Office and some departments from the present County Building to the ex-Police site if he were elected.” The move, however, was not enacted when Carpenter later won the Mayoral race in 1984.
Sherrard, a beloved Hilo leader and educator, was Principal at Chiefess Kapiʻolani Elementary school for thirteen years. It was a task she performed with first-hand knowledge because she, herself, was a Kapʻiolani student. Sherrard was the receipent of the Zonta Club Rose Award in 2014. She is a fixture at cultural and arts events even today, where she is welcomed and hailed for her decades of diligent, productive work that ensured a downtown piko for East Hawaiʻi arts and culture.
Photos from the exhibition and honoring of Frances are located here!
Stop by to see the exhibition and leave a message for Frances in a booklet we will give to her after the show ends!
Photo of Frances Chang Sherrard