BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance (BIPOC PAA), an organization headed by Victoria Silva ’23 and Teresa Ascencio ’23, debuted at Scot Spirit Day this past Friday, Sept. 3. BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance has been in the works for nearly two years.
According to Silva, the organization “started as an idea between myself and Teresa Ascencio during one of our acting classes the second semester of [our] Freshman year. After some discussion, and a few more members added, we brought it to our advisor and were able to begin the process of chartering an organization. With a lot of support behind us we were finally able to be chartered in the spring of 2021. It was great to be able to participate in Scot Spirit Day and now advertise our events for the future!”
The three created the idea of having a Latinx-affiliated organization for performers. However, the organization was further established during summer 2020 amidst the pandemic and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. The three decided to expand the organization to all BIPOC, in order to be more inclusive and holistic in their work. After six months of the chartering process, the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance was officially established in spring 2021.
Both Ascencio and Silva spoke to the importance of Dr. Noriega’s support in forming the organization saying, “Not only is Noriega instrumental in improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the theater department, but he also applied for and won a grant for $500 to be used by the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance for events and guest speakers.” Silva added that he “was a key piece of creating BIPOC PAA.” Dr. Noriega is also a Latinx theatre professional with his own theatre company in Cleveland named Teatro Travieso.
Now with an official charter and platforms to advertise, BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance has a big mission. Many performing arts in the professional world, ranging from music to theatre have been historically white and whitewashed. Because of this, many artists of color, despite working harder to achieve even the remote success of their white counterparts, are often not advertised. “BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance was established with the key idea that we are the arbiters and sharers of BIPOC performing arts.”
Ascencio has a similar vision for BIPOC Performing Arts’ overarching goals and potential programs, “The purpose of the BIPOC Performing Arts Alliance is to create an empowering space for BIPOC students to invest in and expand on the various cultural areas of the performing arts, both on and off-campus.” This organization gives BIPOC students a platform to speak out against racial injustice within the performing arts, to advocate for representation and education centered on BIPOC experiences and to work with other students on meaningful change at the artistic and educational level. It will also provide students with a variety of resources and experiences to enrich their creativity, find meaningful mentorship and support and generate further artistic, educational, and career-related inspiration.
Silva and Ascencio concluded with their biggest goals for this year. “The biggest goal BIPOC PAA has been working towards is not only growing larger, but to have at least one large event that really brings BIPOC art to the forefront of this campus. Much like other events (like the Culture Show), Wooster’s campus is always bustling with different events and fun new things to discover. We hope to be an informative and enlightening discovery for our fellow campus peers!” Ascencio added that the organization will also strive “to improve the connection between students, specifically BIPOC performers, at the College after the pandemic and begin creating a safe space and environment for BIPOC performers at Wooster.”