Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at NECCA

LETTER FROM OUR BOARD CHAIR

Dear NECCA Community:

On behalf of the NECCA Board of Directors, I want to let you know that after a year of reflection and careful consideration, we adopted the following Statement on Diversity Equity and Inclusion at our Board Meeting last Monday night, April 26, 2021. The work that will unfold as a result, is driven by the promise of our mission to enable a diverse and inclusive community to realize their dreams through the transformative power of circus arts. This statement will have a permanent home on our website, and serves as the starting point for a deeper DEI initiative.

In the coming weeks, the Board Governance Committee will solicit NECCA board members, staff, and students to be part of a DEI Task Force to develop and guide this work within our organization and the greater community over a multi-year period.

Those students and community members interested in volunteering for this work should consider the time and emotional labor involved. All may submit an application to the Executive Director and the Board. Once the Task Force has recruited Board, Staff, and Students, it will examine which other key stakeholders should have representation in order to fulfill its charter.

Please know that we do not undertake this work lightly. We believe that education, a thorough examination of current culture and a carefully developed work plan with clearly articulated goals and measures of success will make NECCA a more equitable and inclusive organization–to the benefit of all.

We also know that as a primarily white-led, cis gender able-bodied organization, we have a great deal to learn, and we will make mistakes along the way. We are committed to using those mistakes as opportunities for learning and improvement.

We are grateful for all the ways that you support NECCA already, and we are excited to share our progress in this work with you.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Wohl, Board Chair

 

NECCA Board of Directors 2021

Elizabeth Wohl
John Hatton
Jerry Stockman
Maggie Luther
Patrick Noyes
Valentine Talland
Scott Kaltenbaugh
Cynthia Platero
Jim Verzino

NECCA BOARD POSITION STATEMENT ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION

NECCA’s mission demands that we place diversity and inclusion at the forefront of our work. As we examine the American culture in which NECCA and American circus have developed, we recognize that the culture has not been one of equity. Specifically, American culture has long privileged certain groups and disadvantaged others. Without active evaluation,
identification, and remedy, these structural imbalances will remain in place.

Therefore, the NECCA Board commits to creating and empowering a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce that will report to and be supported by the Board Governance Committee. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force will include students, staff, board members and other necessary stakeholders, as identified by the Task Force and approved by the Board.

The work of the Task Force will include:

  • Identifying education necessary to the NECCA community
  • Creating a workplan for NECCA to use to (1) examine potentially discriminatory practices; (2) propose policy change to improve practices; and (3) evaluate whether remedial steps to repair harm are necessary.
  • Determining the need for, and recommending to the Board outside resources or consultants to support NECCA in this work.
  • Identifying community partners in the local, regional, national, and international circus communities who can collaborate to support mutual goals.
  • Providing quarterly (at minimum) reports to the Board Governance Committee and an annual report to the Board of Directors.

The Responsibility of the Board of Directors shall be:

  • To integrate the work of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force into the Strategic Plan, and support the Executive Director in developing processes to ensure that all work at NECCA is conducted through the lens of equity.
  • To make ultimate determinations, in consultation with the Executive Director regarding NECCA’s priorities, where competing interests must be balanced, with an eye toward the long-term sustainability of the institution.

If you would like to serve on the DEI Task Force, you may fill out this DEI Task Force Application by next Monday, May 10, 2021.

Spring Appeal

SPRING APPEAL

REALIZING DREAMS

Last year, we helped over 1,000 community students and 37 career students get closer to their dreams with the transformative power of circus arts. This Spring, you can help sustain our impact on the global cultural landscape and the local economy with your financial support:
$1,000 purchases new equipment needed to keep our students safe
$400 supports a young person for one week in Summer Camp
$150 covers the cost for a health officer to protect our students during the pandemic
Thank you for your dedicated support of NECCA as we continue to bring the American tradition of circus to our community and the world.

– Jennifer Struble, Executive Director

 

TESTIMONIALS

FROM OUR STUDENTS

PRO STUDENT

VIOLET

After spending her 20’s in precarious housing and financial situations, Violet attended a graduate program in writing. To cope with stress of feeling completely out of her league, Violet signed up for a recreational circus class. After becoming an adjunct writing professor, circus never left her.

In 2012, a friend flew her to Vermont to take trapeze classes. At NECCA, she never forgot the skill, kindness, and support she witnessed from teachers. Now in her 2nd year of ProTrack, she feels grateful and prepared by dedicated coaches that have given her technique and artistry without ever making her feel like she was not doing well for her age.

Violet will be 40 when she graduates. She will remember her time at NECCA as a series of perfect moments that have taught her it’s possible to live a life filled with complete joy.

 

YOUTH STUDENT

NATALIE

“So much in the world has been flipped upside-down for the last year and Natalie’s local in person circus training had to stop abruptly due to the pandemic. But these weekly online NECCA classes have helped her practice being upside-down in a good way! In spite of the global pandemic, she’s gotten consistent practice, training, and guidance from Serenity and the other teachers, and even though she really misses in person classes, she has been able to develop a lot in circus arts this year – and the connections she has made with them have been more valuable than ever. Natalie and I really appreciate that NECCA has adapted their programs to include her as a remote student and that she continues to benefit from circus arts.”

-Hugh Morgenbesser (Father of Natalie)

 

GRADUATE

DANNY

“For me, NECCA was far more than a circus studio – it was a place to learn performance skills and also some really important life skills. I found NECCA’s ProTrack when I was at an extreme low in my life, and by participating in their programs I learned how to be self-disciplined, set goals, and work successfully within groups. I needed a safe and nurturing environment to be a part of, and the coaches and students there helped me to find myself. Now, ten years since I started my training, I work as a full time professional circus artist. I’ve performed hand balancing and aerial acts in many shows in the United States and internationally and won an award for Best Artistry at the Aerial Acrobatic Arts Festival. All of these opportunities were made possible to me because of my time at NECCA. Thank you NECCA!”