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Some say that thirty is the new twenty-one.

If that’s the case, then the Asian American Arts Alliance has truly come of age. Thirty years ago, the Alliance was born out of the civil rights movement, a safe space for Asian American artists of all disciplines to come together, build community, share resources, and provide a city-wide platform for voices that, as yet, had not been heard collectively.

The artists who first gathered together in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s were making their own kind of statement, even a radical one: that Asian America was its own movement and identity, and that by joining as an artists’ alliance, they could do more than anyone could accomplish on their own.

The Alliance’s vibrant, innovative Locating the Sacred Festival celebrates three decades of the community that was forged together and, importantly, breaks new ground. Even in its nascent stages, the festival has been a triumph of community building, reaching out across New York to new partners for uncommon, exciting collaborations.

The seed of this festival was inspired by the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the national rancor that broke out over Park51, or the “Ground Zero mosque.” The Alliance wanted to provide a public stage on which Asian American artists could contribute to the critical conversation regarding what constitutes the sacred in our complex urban environment.

Through the hard work of so many—sponsors, partners, artists, and the Alliance’s board and staff—Locating the Sacred is all this and much more. There will be great art, provocative dialogue, and new ways to engage as citizens of our city and this world.

It may be the Alliance’s thirtieth birthday, but it’s everyone’s celebration. Thank you for joining us.

Andrea Louie
Executive Director,
Asian American Arts Alliance


Welcome to the Asian American Arts Alliance’s Locating the Sacred Festival. Two years in the making, the festival has brought together hundreds of artists, arts workers and cultural activists to create more than twenty events over twelve days in churches, museums, cultural centers, botanical gardens and theaters across the city. We have come together around a shared vision: to re-connect with the sacred and bring our communities closer together.

From the beginning our proposition was unusual: we asked artists and partners to join us as active collaborators—artistically, logistically, financially—in making this festival possible. Their participation required them to reach beyond their regular activities and work together, in many cases for no pay, to explore the legacies, contradictions and inspirations drawn from the sacred. We received 250 applications—far beyond our greatest hopes—including some exceptional work, highlighting the deep histories and creativity of our diverse Asian American community, and presented at this festival thanks to the spirit of kindness of the artists and of the many collaborating space hosts and producing partners.

Join us as we launch the festival with our Opening Concert on Wednesday, September 12th at the magnificent Church of the Ascension, with a program of transcendental music. This features the experimental musician Bora Yoon in collaboration with the exhilarating Texas-based group Riyaaz Qawwali, who perform the passionate devotional music of South Asia known as Qawwali.

This and the festival’s more than twenty other performances, exhibitions and talks celebrate compassion and love. Take this opportunity to re-connect—with your breathing, with friends, with the city—and to draw comfort, strength and inspiration from new people and new places you encounter at the festival. Join us in locating what is sacred to us all.

Nico Daswani
Festival Director, Locating the Sacred Festival
Program Director, Asian American Arts Alliance