Circus Is, And Should Be, For All-- and This Initiative Helps It Get There

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Circus Is, and Should Be, for All– and This Initiative Helps It Get There

In 2020, the American Circus Educators Association (ACE) and the American Youth Circus Organization (AYCO) provided a comprehensive census of circus schools/studios across the country. What the data revealed was something that many non-white individuals in the circus community were probably already aware of, but which hadn’t yet been put into perspective for the general circus community at large.
The census revealed that, on average, circus instructors and students were generally white-identifying, while other demographics were each represented by less than 12%. After conducting a survey of circus educators, ACE/AYCO reported that “[i]n terms of race/ethnicity…on average, their students were 65% white, 11% Latinx, 9% Black, 8% multiracial, 6% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1% American Indian…[while staff were] on average, 76% white, 7% Latinx, 7% Black, 5% multiracial, 4% Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% American Indian.” Reasons for the results of this consensus can be attributed to many things; however, a lack of disposable income/funding to pursue circus arts can be understood as one of the prime suspects. The Federal Reserve reports that white Americans have the highest level of both median and mean family wealth as compared to non-white families. It is no surprise that this data affects the circus community, and decides who ...
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Chisama Ku Penn

Chisama Ku is the CSAW Administrator from Atlanta, GA. She has taught and performed on the pole and teaches pole and flexibility classes. During the pandemic she began training on aerial rope. Chisama Ku has extensive experience as an Arts Administrator working with non-profit music and dance organizations, from the Atlanta Dance & Music Academy to the Baryshnikov Arts Center in Hell’s Kitchen. Her passion lies in making all aspects of the performing arts more accessible for students of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, and believes that money should never be a barrier. She hopes to help broaden the conversation on who is allowed to be considered a circus artist. Chisama Ku joined the CSAW Team in July 2021 to help manage the second CSAW Fundraiser and is now an administrator with the organization.