The Consortium of Asian American Theaters & Artists (CAATA) announced today that its 7th National Asian American Theater Festival & Conference (ConFest): Kuʻu ʻĀina, Kuʻu Piko, Kuʻu Kahua has been rescheduled for May 21-30, 2021. CAATA and its local theater partners were set to welcome several hundred US and international ConFest participants to Oʻahu in August 2020. centering its focus on the voices of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander theater practitioners. However, in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic and economic crisis rescheduling has become necessary in consideration of the safety of the Hawaiʻi host community and general well-being of its visiting theater communities.
The pandemic has ravaged the country resulting in an ever-growing number of deaths and what has become the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Theater artists are facing myriad funding challenges, furloughs and layoffs, cancelled production runs and tours and the need to reimagine their community-based work. Sadly, CAATA has seen its communities-of-color particularly hard hit with anti-Asian violence and cultural discrimination, and with race-based healthcare injustice as witnessed by Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders facing the highest COVID-19 death rates in the state of California.
Despite these challenges, CAATA remains optimistic regarding its future ability to strengthen theaters-of-color. “We are encouraged to treat what may seem like a setback as an opportunity for growth; to learn new skills, to integrate new technologies and to strategically plan our upcoming ConFest with our community partners here in Hawai’i,” said Hailiʻōpua Baker, CAATA Board Member and University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Associate Professor of Hawaiian Theatre & Playwriting. “This encouragement is bolstered by the resilience we see in the exemplary efforts of our communities in the face of COVID-19.”
CAATA continues to realize that its work must evolve to serve its communities in these ever-changing times. In efforts to strengthen its engagement with its artists, as well as to build momentum to its ConFest convening in May 2021, CAATA is partnering with HowlRound TV to create a curated series of livestreamed conversations focused on shared issues of theaters-of-color as well as build momentum to what will be a grand ConFest in May 2021. Further information regarding these sessions will be communicated within the upcoming months.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.
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