The East Coast Taiko Conference (ECTC) was hosted on February 9–11, 2018, by Taiko Tides at Stony Brook University. ECTC is an important annual gathering for taiko enthusiasts and groups primarily from, but not limited to, the eastern US and Canada. ECTC serves an important role to help unite our diverse community. Collegiate, community, and professional groups come together to share our experiences and passion, advance our art by learning taiko under the guidance of established professionals, and have fun!
The theme for this year’s conference was “Unity through Diversity.” Taiko participants come from many different nationalities, ethnicities, and perspectives. We share a belief that taiko provides power and energy to build connections among people, and that taiko has impacted our lives for the better. Our goal was to expand the diversity of the taiko community as much as possible, specifically to people with mental and physical disabilities. Our hope was to inspire members of our community to include those with various disabilities in the taiko world, so that they too may benefit as so many of us have.
To that end, we invited two special guests from Japan: Ryota Kataoka, a blind professional taiko player and educator based in Mishima, and Shinjiro Fukuoka, one of the founding members of the groundbreaking Zuiho Taiko. In a joint session they shared the experiences of working with people with disabilities and how they can be empowered by involvement with taiko. Ryota Kataoka also led a series of workshops and performed in the conference concert.
We were grateful to have the support of a TCA mini-grant to help underwrite their participation. Our guests from Japan conveyed an important theme: taiko is not just a goal in itself – it can be the vehicle to overcoming obstacles and growing, both as an individual and as a community.
We urge everyone, especially college students, to support TCA by becoming a member. TCA was extremely helpful in helping us plan ECTC 2018. Their experience in organizing and promoting best practices for such large events was invaluable. Having a robust national organization to represent taiko helps us all.
We also encourage taiko groups to apply for a TCA mini-grant. It is the easiest grant application process you will encounter!
Photos retrieved from TaikoSource.