Taiko is the Japanese word for drum. In an English context, taiko is used to refer to the art form of ensemble Japanese drumming, more technically called kumidaiko. Taiko as a performance art has grown phenomenally in North America since coming over from Japan in the late 1960’s. It has also spread to many other countries around the world.
Throughout this history, the taiko community has been very loosely organized, relying primarily on informal relationships. In the mid-90’s, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC), a nonprofit ethnic arts and cultural center based in Los Angeles, saw the need for a gathering to help support the growing community of taiko practitioners. The first North American Taiko Conference (NATC) was held in 1997. A phenomenal success, the conference continued and was held biennially until 2011. In addition to being held in Los Angeles, the NATC has been held in other cities such as Sacramento, CA, Seattle, WA, and Stanford, CA. The NATC has grown to become an important opportunity for the taiko community to network, develop skills, and reflect upon the community’s growth. The conference is attended by virtually all of the community’s pioneers and next-generation leaders, as well as brand new students who are just beginning to dabble in the artform. The 2011 conference was attended by about 800 participants, workshop leaders, and volunteers.
In 2012, due to other organizational priorities, the JACCC decided to delay and ultimately cancel the 2013 North American Taiko Conference. Many members of the community began to express concern for the future of the conference, which has become a major touchpoint for the taiko community in general. Under the guidance of a group of recognized taiko community leaders, and with the blessing of the JACCC leadership, the Taiko Community Alliance (TCA) was formed in October 2012 to help secure the future of the conference and give the taiko community a path to greater responsibility and self-determination about its future.
The Taiko Community Alliance empowers the people and advances the art of taiko.
The TCA leadership is made up of a group of recognized taiko leaders representing the geographic and artistic diversity of the community. After the TCA was incorporated in the State of California and established a bank account, the JACCC agreed to turn over the account balance containing profits from previous conferences. These funds would serve as seed money for the next conference, which is planned for Summer 2015.
In the future, the TCA may also support other activities and initiatives to enrich and strengthen the taiko community. These may include: sponsoring conferences in other regions across the country; hosting visiting taiko artists from Japan for workshops; supporting groups and individual artists in the creation of new taiko pieces; supporting taiko-related research projects; serving as a repository for historical documents and materials; sponsoring individuals to pursue taiko studies in Japan; and other projects that will support the growth and continuity of this artform.