2021 TCA Grants Awarded

Congratulations to our 2021 TCA Grants recipients! Since 2016, TCA has dedicated increasing amounts of funds to the Grant Program, culminating this year in $20,000 to fund grants that support projects in 2021-2022. Building on our Emergency Relief efforts in 2020, we are thrilled to have been able to reactivate the full scope of TCA’s Grants Program this year, expanding its scope and capacity to support the taiko community at large. Thanks to community support, we were able to allocate and distribute $4,000 in relief funding to taiko community artists, $4,000 in support of mid-sized projects, and $12,000 in support of large-scale projects.

Learn more about the TCA Grant Program including guidelines, selection criteria, and past recipients by visiting our Grant Program page.

These awards would not be possible without the generous support of our community. If you would like to contribute to TCA and support future cycles of TCA Grants, consider becoming a fundraiser in TCA’s first ever Keep TCA Running 5K, or donating directly to support our current fundraising campaign.

Tier 2 (Mid-Size) Grant Recipients:

Taikoza – NYC Parks Concert Series

Taikoza will be presenting a series of free hour-long concerts in New York City parks, bringing multicultural and high-standard music to new audiences in different parts of the city. An annual program, the NYC Parks Concert Series has for years been a key opportunity to educate people about Taiko and Japanese music, especially within communities who otherwise may not have exposure to taiko, nor access to concerts in general. With a belief that this outdoors and socially-distanced environment can allow music to bring people together, Taikoza hopes to ease the emotional strain of the pandemic on all levels. It will also serve as an opportunity for Taikoza students and members to perform together utilizing taiko, fue, shakuhachi, and dance.

Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers – New Studio Launch

In summer 2021, Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers (RAW) is launching a new studio that will permanently host RAW rehearsals and public taiko presentations and programming, including programming exclusively for racialized and LGBTQIA+ participants. This space will also function as Toronto Taiko Festival head office-space and programming centre, as well as offer affordable sliding scale multi-use studio space for rent by musicians and movement artists with priority given to QTBIPOC (queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of colour) artists and performers within the Toronto taiko community and beyond.

In the wake of studio closures and lost performance opportunities, through the purchase of equipment and the redesign of the studio space, RAW is not only recovering – they are investing in a resilient future for racialized and queer taiko artists and other marginalized artistic practices in Toronto.

This project grew out of RAW’s desire and intention to survive the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on artists and arts collectives by turning the challenges of COVID-19 into opportunities for growth. With the recognition that sustaining their organization through these challenges would require new and different forms of rehearsal, presentation and programming for their members and communities, they intend to mobilize technology to better serve their mission.

Tier 3 (Large-Scale) Grant Recipients:

Odaiko Sonora – 20th Anniversary Celebrations

Odaiko Sonora celebrates its 20th Anniversary in May 2022. For the occasion, they are planning an entire year of activities. These will serve residents and schools in Southern Arizona, the larger Arizona taiko community, and engage members of the national and international taiko communities.

These 20th Anniversary activities – approximately monthly and ranging from recitals, a full-length theatrical concert, expanded elementary school outreach, collaborations with local performers, and master workshops with visiting guest taiko artists – are designed to increase the awareness and understanding of the art form, provide excellent programming, support taiko practitioners, and showcase 20 years of Odaiko Sonora’s accomplishments and organizational strength.

One piece in particular that will directly serve the greater taiko community is a workshop intensive titled, “Programs that Pay” (PTP). This hybrid in-person taiko intensive/online webinar will detail how to create and conduct taiko programs that can financially sustain a community-based taiko group, from profitable concerts to school residencies to cost-covering taiko workshops. In short, how to get the money it takes to keep a taiko group afloat. PTP will also address group dynamics and structure and their role in promoting longterm organizational health.

Grand Vision Foundation – Rhythmic Flow Taiko Online Platform

Rhythmic Flow Taiko (RFT) is a weekly zoom-taiko class, initially designed with therapeutic goals for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The class focuses on an integration of rhythmic exercises, large movements, breathing exercises, vocalizations, and cognitive challenges. Rhythmic Flow Taiko is open and accessible to anyone. The class was founded in May 2020 by Sydney Shiroyama (occupational therapist), Vivian Lee (physical therapist), and Yeeman “ManMan” Mui (taiko artist). After leading several successful pilot classes, three more taiko artists (Kiana Shibata, Kraig Kenta Saito, and Galen Rogers) were included to help develop the class. Transferring the highly-physical, rhythmic, and inter-personal experience of taiko onto Zoom has been challenging, but the online platform has proven to be effective and accessible as students and teachers from all over California are able to simulate a taiko experience without leaving their homes.

The RFT team has built a steadily growing framework of knowledge that enables them to create classes for individuals with mobility, cognitive, and mental health challenges. These barriers are previously assumed to be incompatible with taiko, so opportunities to play taiko are limited. They have been approached by other instructors in the international taiko community who are interested in the RFT model in order to promote accessibility in their own communities. With support from the TCA Grant, they plan to build a website to foster an online platform to share their discoveries and knowledge and to provide a framework for inclusive taiko that benefits students and teachers in the taiko community, PD community, and beyond. Visitors to the website will get a glimpse of the structure of RFT classes, access a database of taiko activities and videos, and start conversations with RFT teachers/participants.

This online platform will be established on the foundation of multi-disciplinary collaboration with the aim of expanding the practice of taiko. Rhythmic Flow Taiko has synthesized practices from physical therapy, occupational therapy, music education, and various taiko backgrounds to develop a class suited to the needs of those with PD. Our online platform will allow individuals to contribute their unique wisdom to this body of work.

Leadership as a Sustainable Practice: A Practitioner’s Forum Fellowship

2020 was a year overflowing with anxiety due to an unprecedented number of challenges. Dojos were instantly shut down, working artists lost their livelihoods, COVID took the lives of loved ones, and the demand for racial reckoning commanded the re-examination of current leadership practices, recognizing the need for creative, flexible, adaptive, and responsive leadership.

Leadership development and building a diverse taiko ecosystem have emerged as priority themes in the taiko community, amplified by current events. This long-term fellowship provides an opportunity to address both priorities through online gatherings, a hybrid in-person immersive training (TBD), cohort development, and the identification, facilitation, and reflection of the current leadership challenge.

Developed and facilitated by seasoned taiko leaders Karen Young and Michelle Fujii, with invited guest speakers (TBD) this Fellowship is focused on 1) emerging leaders (either young or new to taiko), 2) working artists who are re-assessing their livelihoods, and 3) experienced taiko practitioners who are sometimes ‘unseen’ leaders, quietly working in the background.

Fellowship goals include:

  • Providing opportunities to develop skills, broaden perspective, and address real challenges.
  • De-isolate leadership struggles by working together in a community format and developing supportive cohorts.
  • To provoke, challenge, and inspire leaders by asking participants to find tangible ways to invest in anti-oppression practices (including but not limited to racism and gender inequity).
  • To enhance the leadership environment of the general taiko community by making key learnings available.

The Practitioner’s Forum Fellowship will convene up to 20 participants over a 9-month period, selected through an open application process.

Major activities will include:

  • Convening. Monthly online forums will be held to discuss leadership themes, including: core elements of an adaptive leader, whole person leadership, assessing capacity, learning from failure, developing systems of personal support, etc.
  • Practice. Identification and development of a personalized leadership challenge. Each participant will explore, select, and address a leadership challenge they are currently facing.
  • Support. The development of leadership cohorts, which will be the home base for reflection, processing, and support.
  • Public Sharing. A series of webinars and/or recorded interviews highlighting cohort leadership journeys as well the project as a whole.

The aim of this project is to provide a platform for taiko players from across Europe to showcase the way they utilise the artform (both to fellow players and the general public), and to create the space for professional and amateur taiko artists to connect, share, and learn from each other.

The goal of this is to build and strengthen the network of taiko players in Europe, offering the possibility for creative expression to develop in a uniquely European direction, as well as to develop the utilisation of taiko in non-performance contexts (e.g. institutional, educational, and therapeutic settings).

This is significant as, outside of a handful of higher-level groups, many of the groups in Europe are small, isolated, underdeveloped, and unaware of the potential applications of taiko in a non-performance setting. There has been movement since 2016 towards a better understanding of the roots and future of the artform, with events focused on bringing prominent leaders together; however, until now there has not been an event that includes the whole community (players, teachers, enthusiasts, drum makers and sellers, from beginners to professionals alike).

The main benefit of this project will be the result of connecting artists from different countries, cultures, and approaches: Inspiring creativity and development of the artform, as well as inspiring new and creative ways to utilise taiko to benefit society.

Major Activities:

  1. Collect suggestions, ideas, and feedback from the community and continuously integrate this into the project plan throughout the year.

  2. Open invite for performers to take part in a curated, full-length stage performance that showcases the variety and creativity that exists in taiko composed by European artists.

  3. Open invite for players to hold workshops to share their approach and experiences with others; topics to include drumming/teaching skills as well as discussions around the utilisation of taiko.

  4. Invite amateurs and professionals to play together on stage in an informal setting.

  5. Develop online platforms that connect taiko players throughout Europe, and collect information in an organised way, preserving information and serving as an ongoing resource for the global taiko community.

  6. Work in collaboration with community ambassadors in the American and Japanese taiko scene to connect Europe to the global community, ensuring accurate representation in global surveys and databases.

  7. Hold the event annually/bi-annually, increasing size and scope in response to community engagement and input.

The project is organised and hosted by TAIKO BASTARDS (TB), in cooperation with a Core Team from around Europe.

雨 Ame, Tears of the Earth

On May 22, 2021, Taiko Arts Center (TAC) presented a virtual live-stream concert entitled “Ame, Tears of the Earth” at the historic Hawaii Theatre in downtown Honolulu. Featured artists included: taiko artist Kenny Endo, Taiko Center of the Pacific Performing Ensemble, Taiko Center of the Pacific Youth Group, and special guests: Abe Lagrimas Jr (Los Angeles; vibes, drumset, ukulele), Todd Yukumoto (Honolulu; saxophone, flute), Peter Espiritu (Tau Dance Theatre, Honolulu; Hawaiian hula and contemporary dance), and Nawa Lanzilotti (Honolulu; cello/vocalist).

“Ame, Tears of the Earth” is a concept and composition originally composed by Kenny Endo in response to 9/11 and dedicated to the victims of aggression so prevalent in the world. “Ame” literally means “rain” in Japanese. He expanded the meaning to “tears of the earth.” This concert was TAC’s effort to speak out against aggression and violence aimed at people of color or diverse backgrounds, with a hope to counter negativity with love and creativity through musical performance.

Just as rain is cleansing and healing, the performing arts have the potential to heal, educate, inspire, transform, and change society. Music and the arts can be utilized to help create a better world and uplift our spirit.

The original live-streamed concert is still available for on-demand viewing. Access tickets may be purchased by visiting the Hawaii Theatre Center.

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