Silk Road Rising

Silk Road Rising

Silk Road Rising believes that stories help to weave connections between communities; they allow us to find common ground in unexpected ways and to see what unites us rather than what divides us. We believe that expanding representation of AAPI communities by AAPI storytellers is what is most needed. Silk Road

Silk Road Rising

Silk Road Rising believes that stories help to weave connections between communities; they allow us to find common ground in unexpected ways and to see what unites us rather than what divides us. We believe that expanding representation of AAPI communities by AAPI storytellers is what is most needed. Silk Road Rising exists to change harmful portrayals of Pan-Asian communities in the United States. We recognized twenty years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks how misconceptions and misrepresentations lead to lasting tangible harm. Our mission to deepen understanding of Silk Road communities means that our work targets a broad, general audience. We work to expand the canon of AAPI stories and to foster greater social cohesion within Chicagoland and the greater United States. Support for Artists In providing opportunities to AAPI artists, we help build a more representative Chicago arts landscape. We cultivate new audiences and encourage other arts organizations to broaden their repertoire. We support artists to advance in their careers, gain exposure to new audiences, and develop new works. We use our vast networks and visibility as an organization to further their artistic careers by promoting their work and connecting artists with casting directors, producers, arts organizations, and the media.

About the Organization:

Silk Road Rising believes that stories help to weave connections between communities; they allow us to find common ground in unexpected ways and to see what unites us rather than what divides us. We believe that expanding representation of AAPI communities by AAPI storytellers is what is most needed. Silk Road Rising exists to change harmful portrayals of Pan-Asian communities in the United States. We recognized twenty years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks how misconceptions and misrepresentations lead to lasting tangible harm. Our mission to deepen understanding of Silk Road communities means that our work targets a broad, general audience. We work to expand the canon of AAPI stories and to foster greater social cohesion within Chicagoland and the greater United States. Support for Artists In providing opportunities to AAPI artists, we help build a more representative Chicago arts landscape. We cultivate new audiences and encourage other arts organizations to broaden their repertoire. We support artists to advance in their careers, gain exposure to new audiences, and develop new works. We use our vast networks and visibility as an organization to further their artistic careers by promoting their work and connecting artists with casting directors, producers, arts organizations, and the media.

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

16-20 YEARS

The Issue:

The day after 9/11, I felt like a child again, about to be mauled because of mass hysteria. I was standing in Daley Plaza, close to my office, hearing thousands of people chant in unison: USA! USA! Such a beautiful word: USA. My parents came to the USA to give us chances that Pakistan could never afford us. I received a home, education, and the opportunity to come out in the USA. But in that rally, “USA” took on a connotation that would scare me. Am I sufficiently American-looking enough? American acting? Behaving? I wasn’t. It didn’t matter what was in my heart. What mattered was what was in the heart of others (Malik Gillani, Silk Road Rising Co-Founder) Silk Road Rising exists to change harmful portrayals of Pan-Asian communities in the United States. We recognized twenty years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks how misconceptions and misrepresentations lead to lasting tangible harm. Most Americans never see a protagonist on stage or screen of Silk Road heritage. When we see them at all, they are too often portrayed as one-dimensional stereotypes. These false representations have corrosive power. The increasing attacks against AAPI communities over the last two years mean that our work is equally as relevant and important as it was when we began our work in 2002. According to a recent study by the organization Stop AAPI Hate, 2,808 reports of anti-Asian hate were reported between March-December 2020 alone. Illinois is among the top five states with the most incidents (1). There is much work to be done. Silk Road Rising challenges the systemic racism, Islamophobia, and Orientalism that continues to pervade American society and inhibit social change. We increase representation of AAPI communities as part of our efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable future where all Americans feel seen, respected, and valued. (1) Stop AAPI Hate! “New Data on Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Against Elderly and Total National Incidents in 2020.” Press Release (February 9, 2021).

The Solution:

Silk Road Rising believes that stories help to weave connections between communities; they allow us to find common ground in unexpected ways and to see what unites us rather than what divides us. We believe that expanding representation of AAPI communities by AAPI storytellers is what is most needed. Upcoming programming for 2022 includes: The Art of Aphasia This stage production and hybrid video play/documentary will chronicle Founding Co-Executive Artistic Director, Malik Gillani’s experiences as a person living with aphasia and his engagement with the arts as tools for healing and recovery. This work addresses a lack of engagement with BIPOC and AAPI communities within current recovery circles. We plan to premiere the live production in 2026 in collaboration with Texas Tech University. Expansion of Educational Programming We are proud to provide Chicago’s diverse communities with access to storytelling programming, serving hundreds of residents each year. EPIC Silk Road Rising’s Empathic Playwriting Intensive Course (EPIC) brings teaching artists—actors, directors, and playwrights who are experienced educators—into Chicago’s schools and community organizations. Our program introduces participants ages 12+ to the fundamentals of playwriting while gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of empathy through storytelling practices. Myths to Drama Over the course of eight sessions, we introduce classical myths from Silk Road cultures to our youngest students (grades 2-5) using storytelling, art, music, and theatre. Myths to Drama fulfills Illinois’ TEAACH (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History) Act and contributes to a more inclusive curriculum. Polycultural Institute Polyculturalism proposes community-building through intercultural connectivity and creating alliances that elevate us all. Think of polyculturalism as multiculturalism 2.0. Polycultural Institute will be a multimedia platform for generating art and ideas that illuminate practices of cultural connectivity. This work will be interdisciplinary (in previously unexplored ways), transnational, anti-racist, and pro-feminist. Road Less Traveled Inspired by Robert Frost’s iconic poem “The Road Not Taken,” Road Less Traveled will be a video project showcasing playwrights of Pan-Asian, North African, and Muslim backgrounds. The film will grapple with Frost’s poem and its reflection on life choices and their potential consequences. This year we plan on beginning the planning process.

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