Asian Arts Initiative is a group of performers working hand in hand with other groups like parents, writers, directors and the likes so that Asian Americans in Philadelphia can have a voice when it comes to culture and politics. With the diversity that the Asian American community offers, it’s just fitting that there is a community arts center available where they can express themselves. Read on to know more about this group.
What is your organization’s name?
Asian Arts Initiative
What is your name and what is your affiliation with the organization?
Amy Kiyota, Development and Marketing Manager
Please tell us a little bit about you.
I have a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Ursinus College and spent a year studying abroad in Tokyo, Japan at the International Christian University. After graduating, I participated in the Philly Fellows program as the Philadelphia Education Fund’s Research and Communications Fellow. Upon completion of Philly Fellows, I focused on supporting arts education in Philadelphia Public Schools at ArtsRising. Drawn to Asian Arts Initiative – an organization that engages my interests in arts, education, nonprofits, and Asian studies, I am now the Development and Marketing Manager.
How / why did your organization start? (Background, History)
The Asian Arts Initiative is a community-based arts center in Philadelphia that engages artists and everyday people to create art that explores the diverse experiences of Asian Americans, addresses our social context, and imagines and effects positive community change.
Created in response to community concerns about racial tension, the Asian Arts Initiative began programming in May 1993 with Philadelphia’s first-ever Asian American Arts Festival: “Live Traditions/Contemporary Issues” at the Painted Bride Art Center. The Asian Arts Initiative has since become a community arts center that offers performances, exhibitions, workshops, and training for artists, youth and adults who share our commitment to community-based arts.
What is your organization’s objective? (What does it do?)
We are working toward a just and joyous world where all people, regardless of their racial and class backgrounds, are able to view and create art that reflects their lives and concerns. As one of the very few Asian American community arts centers in the country, the Asian Arts Initiative is a unique and vital civic space where artists and everyday people can think critically and creatively about the experiences of Asian Americans in Philadelphia. We are a meeting place for people who lack access to mainstream media, education, and arts because of barriers of language, culture, race, and money.
Our programming focuses on:
- Public Performances and Exhibitions: Through events and gallery exhibitions, we present artwork – from traditional Asian art forms to interdisciplinary forms that define a new Asian American aesthetic. This includes our Chinatown In/Flux exhibitions which are site-specific installations in and around the Chinatown neighborhood.
- Art-Making: Asian Americans of all ages learn technical skills while exploring their culture and identity through art. Our Youth Workshops are geared towards Asian American youth looking to explore their identities while fostering their inner artist.
- Resource and Referral: If you’re a community group or artist and need help with project development or outreach, please contact us!
How long has the organization been around?
Our first programming was in 1993. We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary shortly!
What kind of events / activities does your organization do?
We have a diverse array of programming ranging from:
- Youth Arts Workshop: By providing art-making opportunities and a safe space for Asian American teens, we hope that teens will have a chance to explore and express their experiences and connect with others in their community. Projects over the years have included theater, spoken word, poetry, writing, documentary video, narrative film, short video, drawing/painting, mural making, hip-hop dance, DJ techniques, and many more. Please visit our website for the full schedule of FREE arts programming
- Family Style Open Mic Series: Hosted by spoken word duo Yellow Rage, our popular open mic series invites the sharing of stories, song, dance, poetry among Asian Americans and extended “family” from all communities and cultures. This season, we’re adding a house DJ to the mix and providing free food and drink during a pre-show reception every third Friday of the month.
- Guest Producers Program: This program provides exhibition opportunities for performing artists and organizers exploring community issues and concerns through dance, music, spoken word, theater, performance art, and/or multi-disciplinary work. A “Guest Producer” can be an individual artist, a professional producer or curator, and/or a community representative or team who has an idea for a performance-based event that they would like to make happen at the Asian Arts Initiative.
- Community Curators Program: This program provides exhibition opportunities for visual artists, curators, and organizers exploring community issues and concerns. A “Community Curator” can be an individual artist, a professional curator, and/or a community representative who has an idea for an exhibition that they would like to make happen in the Asian Arts Initiative’s main gallery.
How can people get in touch with your organization (or you)? (website,email, telephone etc)
Please visit: www.asianartsinitiative.org
Email me: email@example.com
Call me: 215-557-0455
Any messages to Philadelphia?
We have just finished construction on the second floor of our multi-tenant arts facility- we are looking for tenants! Also, please visit www.asianartsinitiative.org for program listings.