STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE VIBF BOARD OF DIRECTORS
May 9th, 2021
The Board of Directors of the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival Association apologizes wholeheartedly for presenting material in the recent festival that was damaging to our community.
Specifically, we allowed material to be presented that misappropriated Asian culture, erased Asian performers, and engaged in harmful stereotypes of Asian women and bodies. This was profoundly hurtful to our community as a whole, and in particular to API and other BIPOC performers and peers. It is not lost on us that this harm was compounded by the fact that this performance took place on the opening day of Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
Our artistic organization has a commitment to honour our own guidelines of ensuring the diverse representation of the burlesque community on the Festival’s stage. This year we failed to meet this commitment by elevating art that was not aligned with our organizational values. We broke the community’s trust by bringing this performance into their homes.
We will offer a Town Hall public meeting on May 16 at 7pm via Zoom to which we invite all members of VIBFA, the Vancouver burlesque community, and beyond who have been both directly and indirectly harmed by this year’s festival to attend so their voice may be heard, and for VIBFA to share our steps for accountability. We will also be making contributions to organizations supporting Asian communities in Vancouver. Further, we are reviewing our adjudication and other policies and processes to ensure that this does not happen again and will update the community as that work continues.
We would like to extend our gratitude to all of the community members who have been in honest and brave conversation with us, sharing their personal experiences and time, and helping us outline next steps as an organization.