The following section is questions from the live Q&A that were not answered during the conversation. Panelists wrote answers to questions that were directed to them or that they wished to speak about. Here are the original questions and their replies.
Jamie, you mentioned a lot about developing budding POC talent. That’s great. Thanks. Are POC professionals involved at all or are being consulted in terms of helping with NECCA’s internal diversity efforts? That includes their diversity plans of action and shaping their staff diversity and inclusion training?
(And posted later…)
There are established bipoc circus professionals that can help with NECCA’s efforts either on a consulting basis or even as guest instructors. I’ve heard Jamie mention a lot about developing bipoc circus talent at NECCA. Are there any established people involved in that? Sorry if she answered it earlier and I missed it.
RESPONSE BY: Jamie Hodgson
Hi and, thank you, Paris for the questions and especially for taking the time to do a follow up phone call with me. I look forward to more conversations and am glad this panel ultimately meant an opportunity to be introduced! I also apologize (publicly as well as privately) for not being more adept at multitasking on Zoom during the live event and left your question hanging.
The POC folks we went to first were the people directly at NECCA (students, staff, and community members). It was important to me that I didn’t skip them and their experience by reaching out before having an opportunity to have them lead conversations. I want to thank our staff members Marlon Archer and Julia Bacciellerri for their insights, thoughtful feedback, and continued investment in these conversations. We then connected with several professionals in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Some of them are led by POC, some are led by members of other marginalized groups. Our internal DEI training initiatives are being influenced by or we are being consulted by (or have requested consulting) by 3 Black run DEI organizations or consultants. (Formal agreements are pending. I will happily share the organization names publicly once these are finalized.) Because inclusion is intersectional and multifaceted, we are also engaging in workshops or with consultants on Trauma-informed coaching practices (with Amber Parker), Diet Culture and Body Positivity (with Carey Cramer and Alanna Herrera). We are also working toward an overarching inclusivity and anti-bias training including social justice 101 and communication tools (yet to be confirmed with Rhen Miles), and future workshops in systemic racism, anti-bias, and LGBTQ-allyship among others. When finalized, I will make this entire program, resources and consultants public so that other organizations can take advantage of these resources.
We are investigating what it might look like to have a permanent BIPOC diversity advisor, and thank you to Pamela Donohoo for offering to advise us and potentially fill this role!
To address the second question about BIPOC performers/workshop leaders: We have not yet reached out, primarily because we haven’t fully opened back up. ALL of our workshops have been put on pause. When our full staff is back on September 8th, we have made the commitment to ensure that BIPOC have deliberate and increased representation in our workshops and performances. Although NECCA’s programming is focused more on workshops than performances, we believe it is vital that our students of all ages,especially our BIPOC students, SEE themselves reflected in our workshops, elite coaches and performers. We understand now how crucial this is and we apologize for not making this a more explicit initiative with accountability sooner. Thank you, Paris for your recommendations for people to contact for workshops. We would be grateful for additional recommendations as well! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Anonymous Attendee:
Amy and panelists, you mentioned mistrust from marginalized communities – gentrification and tokenization. Is there a danger that white savior attitude will increase with diversification efforts from historically white organizations? How can that be avoided?
RESPONSE BY: Stacey Mascia-Susice
This is a fantastic question. I think, like many aspects of the circus, a balancing act is required here. Those of us who are considered or who have felt a part of the “mainstream” can never fully grasp what it feels like to be so obviously marginalized, such as individuals with disabilities, people of other creeds, ethnic backgrounds, or gender identities. Therefore, we must be cognizant of the dangers of over-compensating for our “whiteness.” We can certainly empathize, raise our voices in protest — but we must never pity or pretend that those within the margins will ever fully understand those outside of them. Fortunately, the world of circus and sideshow arts are inclusive, diverse, and progressive.
RESPONSE BY: Kiebpoli Calnek | Black*Acrobat
There is a danger that white savior attitudes will increase, with an uptick in micro-aggressions, actions rooted in shame, virtue signaling, seething resentment, overt racism, denial, uncomfortable moments of white guilt, lack of accountability, and so on. It often feels as if the burden of change is on BIPOC peoples to educate when it is the white people who must solve the equation by untangling their privileged myth of white supremacy and systematic racism to learn how to become inclusive, diverse and progressive moving away from capitalism and exploitation into genuine responsibility and equality instead of just empathizing with a BIPOC issue. Fortunately, now there are more allies, advocates, activists, academics, social justice workers, and racial equity firms that these historically white organizations should be partnering with to avoid “helping” in a self-serving manner.
From Jackie Davis:
Just a curious observation that there are no men on this panel. Not a question, just noting.
Circus Talk will reply to this in the forthcoming follow up article.
From Jackie Davis:
I’m wondering about the term “marginalized communities” — Is this term embraced by these communities? If not, what is the preferred term? And by using this term, are we perpetuating the concept of marginalization?
RESPONSE BY: Kiebpoli Calnek | Black*Acrobat
As the epitome of intersectionality, by definition I am a part of the limited identity of a “marginalized community” – I am Black, LBGTQ, and have felt “social exclusion” as a non-binary woman. Though I personally do not take on the meaning of the word, I prefer maverick, I tend to use the term “underrepresented group” or “person of a marginalized community” in an attempt to not silo individuals beneath a biased umbrella that they are then stuck under.Anyone can become part of a “vulnerable population” as they age by becoming elderly or because of life circumstances such as experiencing homelessness, drug addiction, becoming disabled, or job loss.
Circus itself could be considered the marginalized community of the arts world. We see this played out in the lack of governmental funding as contemporary circus tries to legitimize itself as valuable high art.
With self-awareness, the more we educate ourselves as to why the marginalization exists and then speak up on it, the more we learn directly from these “excluded groupings” the better we can end discrimination, systematic oppression, and level the playing field for all with access, understanding, equity, and inclusion thereby dissolving the concept of marginalization and “fringe communities.”
From Anonymous Attendee:
What could circus artists and the circus art in general do collectively to change societal consciousness about inclusion and diversity?
RESPONSE BY: Stacey Mascia-Susice
An example I can provide is within sideshow performance and scholarship. I would love to see more discourse about sideshow scholarship that specifically deals with bodies of difference and how these individuals have captivated and educated audiences in the shared gaze experience. Weaving a narrative into the acts should educate the public on various physical, social, intellectual, or other disabilities. While some performers were subjugated as “objects” in early sideshows (those missing limbs, and/or those exhibiting other “abnormalities,”), modern sideshows have a more educational approach such as Jason Black’s (The Black Scorpion) and Mat Fraser’s (The Seal Boy) acts. During or after performances they welcome audience participation and questions about their specific conditions. If we included some educational discourse, too, we can move away from the initial curiosity of on-lookers and into the world of shared experiences.
From Colleen (she/her):
It can be easy to focus on youth when talking about social inequity, but structural oppression is experienced by adults as well. Many people from marginalized communities cannot access circus training until they are adults. What is being done to support adults circus artists who are struggling to exist in the industry?
RESPONSE BY: Tara Jacob
Many circus schools, studios, and education organizations that serve adults are currently trying to find ways to support their students who are people of color. The main actions I’ve seen lately that some organizations are taking are: offering financial support like scholarships, sliding scale and pay-what-you-can models; targeting marketing and promotion to recruit BIPOC students (using promo photos showing people of diverse races, making specific declarations of inclusivity and anti-racist stance, etc); and recruiting and training people of color as instructors, coaches, and administrators in order to attract, model for, and empower students of color. I think there’s a general awareness that in order to make a truly inclusive environment where students of color of all ages feel comfortable, welcomed and able to learn and practice without barriers there needs to be full-community education and large scale change in the culture of an organization.
09:03:56 From Kim Campbell to All panelists : hi all!
09:04:43 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : Hi, Kim!
09:05:32 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to All panelists : Hi All – delighted to be here with you, to meet you..
09:06:53 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Great to meet everyone!
09:09:10 From Eva Yaa Asantewaa to All panelists : Sending love and support to Jennifer and Kiebpoli, in particular, and to all.
09:12:11 From lisa b lewis to All panelists : Introduction: I am Lisa B lewis, I have been working in circus inclusion for years for Big Apple Circus and am now in process of creating a circus company whose mission is inclusion. both among the performers, for the audience. Bold New Circus. This is my actionable step. I welcome all inquiries and comeradery.
09:12:36 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : Hello, Lisa!
09:14:19 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to Eva Yaa Asantewaa and all panelists : Good Morning Eva..I never would have thought that words of love and support would have brought me to a few tears.. i didn’t know I needed it.. wow.. thanks. Sending love and support back to you..
09:14:50 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to Eva Yaa Asantewaa and all panelists : Oops -didn’t mean that to go to all panelists.
09:20:23 From Paris _ : Yes Kiebpoli! Yes!! ✊🏾
09:21:29 From Vie Paula to All panelists : So much love and appreciation for you, Kiebpoli! 🙏🏼
09:22:06 From Colleen (she/her) to All panelists : Go Kiebpoli!
09:22:06 From Vie Paula : So much love and appreciation for you, Kiebpoli! 🙏🏼
09:22:42 From Polly Solomon : Thank you for your words Kiebpoli! So grateful for your voice, your ideas, your presence!
09:22:46 From Perri Yaniv to All panelists : thank you Kiebpoli!! call for diverse circus now everyone!
09:23:21 From Michael Mucciolo : Thank you for sharing your experience and your passion, Kiebpoli. Your voice is crucial and so very appreciated
09:23:27 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Powerful message, Keibpoli!
09:23:27 From Paul Miller : Kiebpoli I appreciate your POV Thank you!
09:23:38 From Kim Campbell to All panelists : thanks Kiebpoli!
09:23:44 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : can i be seen and heard?
09:23:45 From Beatrice Martino : we can hear you!
09:23:46 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : we hear you and see you
09:23:47 From Polly Solomon : I can hear and see you Amy!
09:23:52 From Tech-Fiona Bradley (they/them) to All panelists : We can hear and see you!
09:24:34 From lisa b lewis to All panelists : Thank you Kiepboli I would love to have a conversation with you off line..email@example.com
09:26:35 From Paris _ : Amy, you’re never anyone’s Plan B. You’re always my Plan A. Thanks for agreeing to do this.
09:30:06 From Eva Yaa Asantewaa to All panelists : Jennifer, I’m happy Kiebpoli told me about this event, and I’m glad to be able to be here for you and them.
09:30:10 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Amy–wonderful community project!
09:30:55 From Nicki Miller to All panelists : This is so awesome Amy <3 <3 <3
09:31:28 From Paul Miller : BRAVO! Bold steps Amy
09:32:18 From Kim Campbell to All panelists : Yay Amy! we love the Castle project.
09:35:20 From Paris _ : Wow Amy!
09:35:32 From Polly Solomon : Yaaay Amy! Can’t wait to see the space the Castle will become!
09:36:18 From Michael Mucciolo : Appreciate hearing about these fantastic projects you are working on, Amy. Thank you for sharing!
09:37:07 From Kiebpoli Calnek | Black*Acrobat (they/them) to Eva Yaa Asantewaa and all panelists : !!! thank you so very much Eva <3 there is so much to say - appreciate your love and support <3
09:37:46 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : So, powerful, Kiebpoli! Thank you so much.
09:38:08 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : And thank you so much everyone!
09:38:35 From Kim Campbell to All panelists : Thanks Jamie!
09:40:39 From Kiebpoli Calnek | Black*Acrobat (they/them) to Paul Miller and all panelists : Thank you Paul, grateful for this platform – please share your relevant POV if you feel moved during the discussion
09:41:05 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : Thank you, Paul—for introducing me to the world to circus-arts education!
09:41:31 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Great policy shifts, Jamie–buzz words like inclusion and diversity are woven into our college’s mission, vision, and values, too.
09:44:04 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Thank you all!
09:44:24 From lisa b lewis : Fantastic!
09:44:25 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Thank you, Paul Miller, for introducing me to the world of circus-arts education
09:45:01 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Thank you, Paris and Polly for being amazing friends and co-teachers in this work with me.
09:47:04 From Polly Solomon : Jamie Hodgson, if you have time I would love to connect with you in the next few days about this work.
09:48:13 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher to All panelists : Thank you so much, Jamie!
09:48:31 From Michael Mucciolo : The work you are spearheading at NECCA is so important for change. Thank you, Jamie
09:49:18 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA to All panelists : Polly Solomon – Thank you! I would welcome that!
09:49:29 From Nicki Miller to All panelists : Hi from Western Mass also 🙂
09:50:34 From Jackie Davis to All panelists : Jamie, thank you for sharing, I feel inspired by your example at NECCA!
09:50:51 From Paris _ : Jamie, you mentioned a lot about developing budding POC talent. That’s great. Thanks. Are established POC professionals involved at all or are being consulted been consulted in terms of helping with NECCA’s internal diversity efforts? That includes their diversity plans of action and shaping their staff diversity and inclusion training?
09:51:58 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA to All panelists : Hi Paris! YES! (Thankfully!) These folks have been VERY VERY generous with their time and guidance.
09:54:43 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : We are in a very “white” region, too…not a lot of diversity where I live, which is incredibly challenging–luckily we have the Akwesasne territory nearby, so we do have some integration of ethnicity. Love what you are doing, Tara! I identify with your points!
09:55:11 From Josée Frenette to All panelists : id I hear correctly about a social circus initiative at Necca?
09:58:06 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA to All panelists : Josée – We currently to outreach social circus programming in our region (already). But the new initiative is to reach out to social circus organizations with young people across the country who might want to continue their training to a pre professional or professional level. We are developing a program to invite them to have a taste of our ProTrack program for a few days to a week, try our space, use our facility, and meet our coaches to find out if they may want to pursue training in our Pro program.
10:00:59 From Michael Mucciolo : Thank you for the openness, Tara.
10:02:01 From Kim Campbell : Paris, if you can put that question in the Q&A they can ask it to Jamie after the intros.
10:05:57 From Kim Campbell : Thank you Stacie for speaking to disability in the circus world.
10:06:16 From Paris _ : Thanks. I posted it there too.
10:06:58 From Michael Mucciolo : Thanks for the additional perspective, Stacey
10:07:51 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Love this material!
10:08:04 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Star struck–LOVE Jennifer Miller’s work!
10:14:00 From Kim Campbell : Yessssss Jennifer!
10:14:22 From Eva Yaa Asantewaa to All panelists : …is fun and necessary!
10:14:38 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : YES! Madeline is fab!!!
10:15:03 From Jennifer Lemmer Posey : You all are INCREDIBLE!! Thank you to all of the panelists for their thoughtful observations on allyship. You have given me some wonderful insights that I hope will help inform my own work as a curator of circus history. I am grateful to you all for the work you are doing to expand and better our circus community!
10:15:04 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA to All panelists : Thank you Jennifer!!!
10:15:36 From Polly Solomon : Nora and Brandon amazing interpreting!
10:15:38 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Polly Solomon has set some excellent circus-based, political theatre for youth performers
10:15:55 From Michael Mucciolo : Thank you for that passionate and energizing glimpse into the political circus theater world, Jennifer.
10:16:04 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Yes, Nora and Brandon–thank you!!!
10:16:14 From Paul Miller to All panelists : Big Fan of Circus Amok! Pleasure to hear from you Jennifer
10:16:18 From Polly Solomon : Jennifer thank you for talking about the importance of catching the attention of the people who don’t already agree with you.
10:16:54 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to All panelists : Very happy to be with you all!
10:24:17 From Polly Solomon : YES Kiebpoli! The gatekeeping goes far beyond “just inviting others in” there are so many barriers that can be invisible if you’ve never experienced them.
10:24:37 From Paris _ : Kiebpoli, I feel you!
10:24:42 From Mary-Margaret Scrimger to All panelists : Kiebpoli!!! You are amazing!
10:25:51 From Chi Shi to All panelists : thx kiebpoli for sharing！
10:28:28 From Kim Campbell : And eugenics was used to increase racism and segregation.
10:29:14 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Exactly–my students are amazed that this took place not just in Nazi camps, but also in the US!
10:29:19 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : And the US has engaged in the internment of US citizens of Japanese descent, justifying it as “national security.”
10:29:35 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Stacey—exactly!
10:31:24 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Yes, internment camps here…again, we must learn from the history before we can change it for the future.
10:35:54 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : I feel you, Kiebpoli! That’s why I had to ask for a clarification of the first question too!
10:36:04 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Just want to put this out there, folks will have a “home” presenting at PCA in Boston next year. Email if interested in our Circus/sideshow panels at firstname.lastname@example.org
10:38:52 From Polly Solomon : YES YES YES
10:39:08 From Jackie Davis to All panelists : I just looked up Cirque Cupcake/circ cupcake Portland OR but didn’t find it. How can I find them?
10:39:14 From Polly Solomon : Visibility!
10:39:18 From Eva Yaa Asantewaa : Thank you, Kiebpoli. Speaking up is key. Fear is real. But your silence will not protect you.
10:41:00 From Paul Miller : We are indeed building a New World. The “traditional circus” is built upon exploitation and capitalism. The youth circus is building a new world! Thank you Amy! Helping Jean Tae get to Germany was a huge move
10:44:57 From Paris _ : There are established bipoc circus professionals that can help with NECCA’s efforts either on a consulting basis or even as guest instructors. I’ve heard Jamie mention a lot about developing bipoc circus talent at NECCA. Are there any established people involved in that? Sorry if she answered it earlier and I missed it.
10:45:49 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA to All panelists : Hi Paris – YES! To be quick – we are honored to have established folks involved!
10:46:04 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA : Hi Paris – YES! To be quick – we are honored to have established folks involved!
10:46:27 From Emily Holt to Jackie Davis and all panelists : Jackie Davis -https://www.sircupcakesqueercircus.com/
10:47:01 From Paris _ : Great. Thank you Jamie.
10:47:48 From Paris _ : YES AMY!!! Yes!!!!!!
10:48:34 From Polly Solomon : YES AMY!
10:48:57 From Jackie Davis to All panelists : Thanks Emily!
10:49:23 From Paris _ : Thank you Amy for pointing out that those people need to be removed if they continue to exclude and/or repeat anti-diversity actions/epithets.
10:50:02 From Eva Yaa Asantewaa : I have to leave. Thanks for all your sharing.
10:50:17 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to All panelists : Thanks for coming Eva
10:51:03 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Thank you, Eva!
10:52:58 From Michael Mucciolo : I heard Amy speak earlier about the power of circus to engage and invite curiosity from audience. We have that ability to use that curiosity to lift up social justice causes. Jennifer also spoke towards the power of clown in making political statements
10:56:32 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Yes, Tara!
10:56:36 From Jackie Davis to All panelists : Right on Tara!
10:56:54 From Kim Campbell : Tara and an anti racist space can be cultivated in those settings
10:56:55 From Paul Miller : skills & community AYCO/ACE has laid a solid foundation for this to happen Great work Tara
10:57:33 From Tara Jacob she/her AYCO/ACE : email@example.com
10:57:49 From Jamie Hodgson (she/her) – NECCA : Thank you, Madeline! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10:58:23 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to All panelists : Can a host put us in a breakout room so we can chat and say good-bye after the Panel signs off?
10:58:32 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Colleen—Polly Solomon is working on spearheading a young adult mentorship program that is aimed to guide young adults, especially young adults for whom circus school is not an option, into the professional circus world
10:59:18 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : also CSAW—Connecting Circus Students Around the World, is offering monthly micro grants to POC circus performers for act development and tuition
10:59:47 From Tech-Fiona Bradley (they/them) to All panelists : I don’t know how to make a breakout room. Madeline do you?
11:00:08 From Tara Jacob she/her AYCO/ACE to All panelists : If you make me host I can do it!
11:00:19 From Tech-Fiona Bradley (they/them) to All panelists : Done!
11:00:21 From Tara Jacob she/her AYCO/ACE to All panelists : Nice!
11:01:18 From Tech-Fiona Bradley (they/them) to All panelists : Andrea asked us to meet at whereby.com/circustalknews instead of the breakout room. Is that possible for everyone?
11:01:53 From Tara Jacob she/her AYCO/ACE to All panelists : Works for me!
11:02:22 From Jennifer Miller(she/they)CircusAmok to All panelists : We just go to the web address?
11:02:26 From Tech-Fiona Bradley (they/them) to All panelists : yes!
11:02:55 From Tech-Fiona Bradley (they/them) to All panelists : Go to whereby.com/circustalknews after the panel ends
11:03:11 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : I can!
11:03:43 From Jennifer Lemmer Posey : Thank you all so very much.
11:03:43 From Kim Campbell : Good feedback Kiebpoli. Is there a database for artists of color?
11:04:07 From Avi Pryntz-Nadworny to All panelists : Thank you so much to everyone for sharing!
11:04:28 From Kim Campbell : thanks you all, this was wonderful.
11:04:38 From Polly Solomon : So much more to discuss. Thank you all for your voices and Circus Talk for making space for this. Thank you interpreters!
11:04:41 From Stacey Mascia (she/her) to All panelists : Thanks to all who joined!
11:04:43 From Amy Chen (she/her) Independent Teacher : Again—I think CSAW is a good contact point to start with respect to database for artists of color. I don’t think there is a comprehensive database, but I know Sierra is making great efforts.
11:04:46 From Jackie Davis to All panelists : Thank you, hard-working interpreters!
11:04:58 From Polly Solomon : I’m happy to help ad to that list
11:05:28 From Polly Solomon : Thank you Madeline!
11:05:32 From lisa b lewis : Thank you all!!!
11:05:33 From lisa b lewis : Lisa
11:05:36 From Beatrice Martino : Thank you!!! This was fantastic!!!!
11:05:42 From Michael Mucciolo : thank you all so much!!!