Choir faces financial problems - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Choir faces financial problems

Daniel Werning Daniel Werning
Judith Caro Judith Caro
Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Sacred Choir received critical acclaim when it was invited to perform in England this past summer. 

But now it's facing severe financial problems and some say that much of those problems are self-inflicted.

The 26-member choir was able to to travel to England in July only after it received a last-minute, $10,000 gift from Hollywood stars Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith and a matching gift from a visiting California couple.

But Choirmaster Daniel Werning said the organization now has no income at least until December, when it will hold its next concert.

"We have zero in the bank today," said Werning.

Since the England trip, the choir's membership has dropped dramatically while one of its board members has resigned. Sources added that the organization did little fundraising for the overseas trip, which cost more than $100,000.

Werning said he's paying for much of the choirs operating expenses out of his own pocket.

"We owe approximately $20,000 to $22,000 in money that is needed right now or say by next summer," Werning said.

Judith Caro is one of those creditors. Caro's daughter is a member of the choir and her family of six paid over $20,000 to travel with the group to England in July.

But when Caro's mother had to cancel due to an illness, she asked for a $3,500 refund. She's still waiting.

"I feel that Dan Werning is giving me the run around. He's claiming that he has no money in the account," Caro said.

"I truly believe that my family has been ripped off."

But Werning said half of the money will returned soon and the rest sometime later.

"I've promised from the beginning that money we owe is going to get paid back," he said.

"The only way it's not going to get paid back is if nobody gives any donation and we have to head down the road to bankruptcy."

Werning said that if the organization survives the latest crisis, he hopes to hire a treasurer and bookkeeper to watch over its finances. A long-term and short-term business plan also needs to be put in place, he said.

"Right now, I admit I'm a musician. I consider myself a good musician but I'm not the financial guru that this choir needs," he said.

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