East West Players

East West Players

EWP is the nation’s longest-running theatre of color and largest producer of AAPI creative work, aiming to raise visibility of the AAPI experience by presenting innovative, world-class productions, developing artists of color, and providing impactful education programs. The nation's premier Asian American theatre, EWP advocates for an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory

East West Players

EWP is the nation’s longest-running theatre of color and largest producer of AAPI creative work, aiming to raise visibility of the AAPI experience by presenting innovative, world-class productions, developing artists of color, and providing impactful education programs. The nation's premier Asian American theatre, EWP advocates for an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory world through transformative works. Founded in 1965 by nine artists who sought to promote positive images of Asian Americans beyond the demeaning roles they were offered in Hollywood, EWP leads the AAPI theater movement, recognizing the unique and innovative contributions of transnational, international, and cross-cultural artists. EWP is invested in producing and commissioning new work, including in their educational program, commissioning a new theatre for youth play every season. Since their inaugural season, they’ve produced over 235 shows and received national accolades. In 1998, EWP moved from a 99-seat theatre into the 240-seat David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo, DTLA. In 2016, the company welcomed its fourth Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. During his tenure, EWP produced its three most attended productions in the company’s history, expanded funding to new levels, and garnered a higher national profile as an incubator of artists of color. EWP uses its platform to address social justice issues, and is broadly recognized for its work in advocating for comprehensive DEI practices across national theatre. As part of the company’s unceasing investigation of its mission, they are focusing on serving as the nexus to uplifting and magnifying intersectional storytelling of all marginalized communities.

About the Organization:

EWP is the nation’s longest-running theatre of color and largest producer of AAPI creative work, aiming to raise visibility of the AAPI experience by presenting innovative, world-class productions, developing artists of color, and providing impactful education programs. The nation's premier Asian American theatre, EWP advocates for an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory world through transformative works. Founded in 1965 by nine artists who sought to promote positive images of Asian Americans beyond the demeaning roles they were offered in Hollywood, EWP leads the AAPI theater movement, recognizing the unique and innovative contributions of transnational, international, and cross-cultural artists. EWP is invested in producing and commissioning new work, including in their educational program, commissioning a new theatre for youth play every season. Since their inaugural season, they’ve produced over 235 shows and received national accolades. In 1998, EWP moved from a 99-seat theatre into the 240-seat David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo, DTLA. In 2016, the company welcomed its fourth Producing Artistic Director Snehal Desai. During his tenure, EWP produced its three most attended productions in the company’s history, expanded funding to new levels, and garnered a higher national profile as an incubator of artists of color. EWP uses its platform to address social justice issues, and is broadly recognized for its work in advocating for comprehensive DEI practices across national theatre. As part of the company’s unceasing investigation of its mission, they are focusing on serving as the nexus to uplifting and magnifying intersectional storytelling of all marginalized communities.

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

31+ YEARS

The Issue:

For 58 years and counting, EWP’s work has addressed the issue of representation and inclusivity of Asian-Americans in mainstream media and the arts. As the longest running theater of color in the country and the largest producer of Asian American work, EWP recognizes that the Asian and Asian American diaspora is not a monolithic group, consisting of individuals from numerous backgrounds and ethnicities representing several dozen nations. The organization aims to celebrate the rich variety of history and culture within the diaspora by highlighting different stories, traditions, and the shared immigrant experience.

The Solution:

To achieve their mission, EWP strives to reach diverse populations, including both frequent and first-time theater-goers, artists, local communities, and commuters. They make theater accessible by offering low-cost ticket prices, collaborating with other arts organizations, partnering with service organizations that serve specific populations, and engaging with community centers and universities. Through such efforts, EWP expands its reach and brings in audiences and students from various backgrounds in Southern California. Audience surveys indicate that EWP's audience is predominantly female and comprises over 75% people of color, reflecting their commitment to inclusivity. EWP's educational programs cater to students from school districts with high proportions of students of color and those enrolled in free/reduced lunch programs, such as the Los Angeles Unified and Alhambra Unified School Districts. The organization's Touring Production primarily serves 6th to 12th graders, and their student demographic includes 60.2% Latino, 18.4% Asian Pacific American, 9.1% African American, 10.2% Caucasian, 0.5% Native American, and 1.6% Other/Multi-Ethnic students. Through these programs, EWP aims to provide opportunities for underrepresented students to engage with theater and explore their own identities and stories.

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