Asian American Arts Alliance

Asian American Arts Alliance

The Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring greater representation, equity, and opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists and cultural organizations through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Since 1983, A4 has sought to unify, promote, and represent the artistic and cultural producers

Asian American Arts Alliance

The Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring greater representation, equity, and opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists and cultural organizations through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Since 1983, A4 has sought to unify, promote, and represent the artistic and cultural producers of one of New York City’s fastest-growing populations. A4 is a diverse alliance of artists, organizations, and arts supporters who believe that working together as a pan-ethnic, multidisciplinary community is essential to nurturing the development of artists and arts groups and to providing meaningful and innovative ways for civic engagement in society. Through its community building programs and advocacy, A4 serves as a thoughtful convener of the AAPI cultural workforce around issues of race, identity, and artmaking and provides a critical voice for this community. A4 is the only service organization in the country dedicated to the professional development of AAPI artists in all disciplines. Founded by a group of impassioned artists and activists including the late Corky Lee, A4 has always occupied a unique place in the AAPI community. Forty years later, A4 continues to exhibit the values of integrity, transparency, justice, respect, and kindness throughout its work.

About the Organization:

The Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring greater representation, equity, and opportunities for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) artists and cultural organizations through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Since 1983, A4 has sought to unify, promote, and represent the artistic and cultural producers of one of New York City’s fastest-growing populations. A4 is a diverse alliance of artists, organizations, and arts supporters who believe that working together as a pan-ethnic, multidisciplinary community is essential to nurturing the development of artists and arts groups and to providing meaningful and innovative ways for civic engagement in society. Through its community building programs and advocacy, A4 serves as a thoughtful convener of the AAPI cultural workforce around issues of race, identity, and artmaking and provides a critical voice for this community. A4 is the only service organization in the country dedicated to the professional development of AAPI artists in all disciplines. Founded by a group of impassioned artists and activists including the late Corky Lee, A4 has always occupied a unique place in the AAPI community. Forty years later, A4 continues to exhibit the values of integrity, transparency, justice, respect, and kindness throughout its work.

organizational budget

$500,000 - $1 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

The Issue:

AAPIs are vastly underrepresented in popular media and the arts, resulting in a constant “othering” of the community, “invisibilization,” and perpetuation of harmful stereotypes that can lead to violence and ostracism. The inability to see oneself combined with sustaining ongoing racial trauma in forms of overt discrimination and microaggressions are documented factors that result in a host of mental health issues. AAPI artists are often pigeonholed into specific roles, overlooked, or erased from the critical conversation. According to The Asian American Foundation’s most recent STAATUS Index survey, 26% of respondents were unable to name a famous Asian American (down from 46% in 2021). Among those named, the two most popular for three years in a row were Jackie Chan (who is not American) and Bruce Lee (who died 50 years ago). In a study published by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in 2021, of the top 1,300 U.S. films from 2007-2019, only 44 depicted an AAPI lead or co-lead (and of those 44 films, 14 starred Dwayne Johnson). The problem exists behind the screen as much as on the screen. Over that period of 13 years, only 25 of those top 1,300 films were led by individual AAPI directors, 3.3% involved AAPI casting directors, and 2.5% had AAPI producers. With a lack of AAPIs in critical roles like editors, publishers, casting directors, critics, producers, and curators, there will continue to be a diminution of the value of AAPI stories and a lack of authenticity in those which are told. Artists and arts organizations need resources and support to thrive. With a strong community of creators, role models, and patrons, we can build a more equitable arts ecosystem.

The Solution:

A4 has been working for 40 years to help artists and arts organizations thrive by building a supportive community and offering programs that embed pathways for artists to access cultural gatekeepers. We have forged strategic partnerships within the AAPI community and beyond to become a trusted partner with organizations from the National Endowment for the Arts to Lincoln Center. We help ensure artists are seen and heard by creating opportunities and platforms for visibility. In November of 2022, A4 launched an online publication called The Amp to amplify (and archive) the voices of AAPI creators. The Amp editor, Shannon Lee, stated the importance for the publication to exist: “to cultivate an understanding of what this identity and experience means. To give voice to our artists and recognize our vibrant complexities and multitudes. To let the world know who we are on our own terms, for generations to come.” In 2019, we retooled our website to offer a free community calendar and opportunities listing to help artists and arts organizations share their projects and events, find funding and jobs, and learn about the vast amount of AAPI cultural programming. All of A4’s programs are geared to creating a welcoming and encouraging space as well as providing skills and access to help artists and arts organizations prosper. For more than 10 years, A4 has held a bimonthly Town Hall gathering which brings together artists working around a discipline or theme to share ideas, ask for collaborators, or simply promote their projects. Our professional development workshops empower artists by teaching important skills like grant writing and managing finances and we introduce artists to organizations like Disney and Netflix to receive critical feedback, have their work seen by influential decision makers, and foster important connections. We offer direct funding and mentorship support through grants and fellowships, like the Jadin Wong Fellowship in Dance (one of the only fellowships in the nation for AAPI dance artists). And we build a stronger society by bridging Black and Asian American communities through our Bandung Residency program and our work in coalition with other arts and AAPI-serving organizations.

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