SANCA Tent Hall Transcript
Wednesday, August 12, 2020, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Recording available on SANCA’s YouTube channel
Hosts: John Tannous, Executive Director & Jeff Deveaux, Development Director
SANCA’s COVID response (John Tannous)
– Spring: We received a PPP loan that helped us through the spring and we started online classes.
– Summer: We have been able to add small camps and classes. Online classes are successful and here to stay as they are introducing people to SANCA and helping us to connect with people all over the world.
– Fall: We will start online registration for the first time.
– THANK YOU to the many families, students, organizations, and supporters who have helped SANCA VID by making gifts of support and donating spring tuition payments to help us through the COVID pandemic.
– Our mission has always been about health, so we are doing everything we can to make sure that circus is a safe as possible.
– We have gotten phenomenal feedback from parents and from students attending classes. People have said that it is safer than the grocery store. They feel that we have gone above and beyond.
– The coaches have come up with new, safe, fun ideas like virtual pajama parties.
– Our safety measures include:
- Remote registration
- Limited entry to the gym
- Temperature checks
- Social distancing and face masks
- Cleaning and sanitizing — by coaches and students after every lesson
- Large bay doors open for fresh air circulation
Interview with Jo Montgomery, SANCA Co-founder and a Nurse Practitioner
JT: Is it possible for us to do circus safely during COVID?
Jo: It is safe to go to THIS gym because SANCA has good air circulation, high ceiling height and SANCA is following the Governor's guidelines for social distancing and mask-wearing. The way you have changed the space to move people around, e.g. with arrows, is great.
JT: You are beloved for your role in creating an amazing space for the circus community. You had
an initial vision. How well is SANCA meeting that vision now?
Jo: From the beginning, we had three main goals: 1) To provide excellent circus coaching; 2) To make circus accessible to everybody, regardless of physical experience and ability to pay; and 3) To create a welcoming space and community.
I am impressed that you are continuing to do those things through COVID, including offering student scholarships. I am happy that you have the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and inclusion) group working on inclusivity. John has done a phenomenal job taking care of SANCA.
JT: Do you see us in King County getting to where SANCA can be back in full operation?
Jo: I don’t think we will be at full capacity soon. We can’t be in a crowded room until a certain percentage of people have been vaccinated. Maybe in a year, but SANCA has an edge because we have a large space, ceiling height, and loading doors. And we are doing such a good job at social distancing and mask-wearing.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Update
The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee formed in April, then with George Floyd protests, the issues have become more visible on a global scale
Interview with DEI Committee members, Manjit Golden & Tara Adams
JT: In what ways can SANCA be an anti-racist organization that are appropriate to our mission and
our position in our community?
Tara: This is a conversation that we need to be happening. In our country we are at a turning point. At SANCA it is essential that we take a role in eliminating racism. We need to be open to learning and willing to admit that we’ve made mistakes and that we will make mistakes. We have started by trying to educate ourselves. Racism is all around us as individuals and in our organization. The first step that we want to take is to work on developing an action plan to address racism within our organization.
After education, we will evaluate the organization and structure to find ways to eliminate racism and ensure equity. For example, we need to look at our HR hiring, evaluation, and compensation practices. We also know that anti-racism training will be critical. It won’t end bias, but it’s a start. Mentorship of BIPOC employees will be an organizational priority to prepare them for leadership roles.
I came out of HR where we have talked about diversity for years and years, yet Black people have continued to be under-represented at the Board and leadership level in organizations. It’s important to have a genuinely inclusive workplace to be able to recruit diverse employees and to serve our community. Anti-racism is a life-long project. We are very committed to addressing racism on an individual and systemic basis, and justice is our ultimate goal.
Manjit (co-chair of DEI Committee): First, let’s start with two definitions:
– Anti-racism – Coined by Ibram X. Kendi who said that the opposite of racist is NOT “not racist.” That is upholding the status quo. The opposite of racist is “anti-racist” – opposing racism and the oppression of marginalized groups by actively dismantling the power structure.
– White supremacy is the culture that upholds the white power structure and disenfranchises BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities.
We need to be transparent about racial inequity in our organization and combat the inherent racism of the non-profit structure. SANCA has taken a big step in forming this team.
Actions we have taken so far:
1. #BlackOutTuesday where we amplify Black circus and performing artists on SANCA’s social media.
2. An Anti-racist book club is running throughout the year, so that people can read about how to be better allies.
3. The Power of Three – We’ll share three resources every Tuesday – books, podcasts, movies to learn how to be better allies to marginalized communities.
4. We are developing a land acknowledgement to honor the ancestral land of the Duwamish people where SANCA resides.
Flying Trapeze Tent Upgrades
Our financial reality: We made it through COVID in the spring fairly unscathed thanks to strong community support, but this summer we are bringing in about 10% of the earned revenues that we normally bring in. However, we are still keeping an eye fixed on the future and how to maintain the vibrancy that we had prior to the pandemic.
Interview with Katie Wagman, Flying Trapeze Program Co-Director
JT: What is the history of the tent and what does it need?
Katie: The flying trapeze tent was built in 2009. The tent was purchased from Big Top Shelters in Florida, and it has a life expectancy of 5-10 years. We have done maintenance over the years, and the tent has lasted a long time. The structure is sound, but in the future, we will need to replace the tent skin and add insulation. This will cost $60,000 for materials. Currently, the tent is like an outdoor environment, e.g. warm/hot in summer and cool/cold in winter. Insulation will regulate the temperature year-round.
JT: It’s going from camping to glamping.
JT: How have flying trapeze classes been this summer?
Katie: On the staff and student side, nobody knew what to expect, but the smaller class sizes and shorter classes have been great for getting fliers back in shape. We have had a cool mix of returning and new fliers. Everyone is more than happy to comply with mask-wearing. We’ve had many requests to keep some of the shorter classes even after we can return to normal service.
Q: Diversity – What does success look like? What will you be measuring?
A: More diversity on the board, in leadership, and the staff. It will be evident to the community. The process is that the DEI team will start to build a plan for SANCA with specific goals, action steps, and a timeline. The Board will review and sign off on it and then we will present it to the community. We are also going to start producing an annual report at SANCA each year that will include DEI reports.
Q: What was your DEI vision from the beginning?
A: We were being inclusive from the beginning, but at that time we were not doing true introspection on our racial bias. Having a formal committee looking at this with intelligence and education is wonderful.
Q: At the current burn rate, how long can SANCA stay afloat?
A: If the enrollment numbers we’ve seen in summer remain this low in the fall and going forward and we did nothing differently, we would still make it to December. However, if we do not increase tuition income this fall, we may have to cut expenses to go beyond. There is uncertainty for when people will feel comfortable coming back to the gym and Fall will be a test for us. We hope that people will return to their circus classes and training indoors.
Shout out: Mask portraits by John Cornicello! See them on Facebook.
SANCA is deeply grateful for the following institutions, donors, and supporters who have provided extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic or major annual support in 2020.
Kevin Ruddell & Heather Kroll, Libby Cunningham & Mike O’Leary, The Randles Family, David & Dana Taft, Jon & Melissa McClintock, Adam Noble & Ammi Spencer, Beth Heritage, Daniel Nidzgorski & Casey Peel, and John Cornicello Photography.
SANCA would especially like to thank all our many students and families who have made extra gifts of support, and who donated their spring tuition or camp tuition in support during the period that SANCA was closed due the COVID-19 pandemic.