USAAF 2018 - FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about applying to APICC's United States of Asian America Festival 2018:


When is the application deadline?
Electronic submissions are due at 11:59 PM PST on Monday, November 27, 2018. If you have application questions, please read through this FAQ first and then contact APICC Artistic Director Melanie Elvena at [email protected].

When is the festival?
The United States of Asian America Festival (USAAF) happens annually during the month of May.

Is there an application fee?
There is no fee to apply to USAAF, however accepted artists are asked to join APICC’s community at the low annual rate of $10 for artists and $25 for organizations.

Why do I need to pay APICC Association fees?
APICC annually invests thousands of dollars in the development of API artists and organizations through USAAF, APICC Association fees are an intentionally nominal amount to ensure that participating artist and organization members feel invested in the USAAF program. These fees also assist us to underwrite the total costs of marketing and administration of member events. In addition to participation in the festival, APICC members receive invitations to quarterly events as well as inclusion in APICC’s annual suite of professional development workshops.

What if I want to participate in USAAF but I don’t want to produce a show?
The new structure intentionally creates opportunities for artists to participate in USAAF without self-producing events. A call for artists will be issued in January for work to be included in Showcase events and the annual USAAF visual arts exhibition at SOMArts.

Why does the application ask “Would you be interested in being paired with another artist or group to produce an event?”
Sometimes applications come in addressing similar content or aesthetics, APICC may suggest two artists or organizations proposing similar events collaborate to lower the cost of self-producing (including marketing, venue, etc.).

Why did APICC change the festival funding levels?
APICC is looking to deepen the impact of the USAAF program and its commitment to fostering the artistic evolution of Asian and Asian American artistic expressions. It hopes to do so in the following ways:

  • Shift to a commissioning program that will function as an artists incubator - creating multiple career pathways for artists (and organizations) to grow
  • Facilitate ways for APICC to build deeper community with and between artists
  • Allow APICC flexibility to address production and professional development needs of artists
  • Implement ways APICC can be more directly involved in the artistic creation process


What are the new levels I can apply for and how do they compare to the previous levels?

  • Member Event - Member Events are similar to the “Supported By” category of previous festivals. Member Events do not receive any monetary support but their events are featured in USAAF marketing and participating artists will have access to professional development opportunities. Member Events can happen anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Focus Events and Showcase Events are both similar to the “Presented By” category in that lead artists can apply for support in the form of professional development, participating artist fees, venue subsidies, tech subsidies and event documentation subsidies, but are designed for artists and organizations at different stages of development:
    • Focus Event - Focus Events are meant to support a fully formed event with established leadership - this can be one or more individual artists, a collaboration of artists or an organization that has a track record of producing events. Focus Events can apply for up to $1,500 in artist fees and can happen anywhere in San Francisco.

    • Showcase Event - Showcase Events are meant to support curated events where the participants are not yet solidified - this can be one or more individual artists, a collaboration of artists or an organization that is seeking assistance in the curation and artistic development of an event. Showcase Events will work with the Artistic Director to craft a call for participating artists and to present a preview event in early April. Showcase Events can apply for up to $3,000 in artist fees ($1,000 for the producing artist/organization, and $500 for each additional participating artists) and can happen at any San Francisco Cultural Center. Artists participating in (but not leading) Showcase Events are similar to the “Sponsored By” category of previous festivals.

For a visual representation of the new USAAF levels, check out this infographic.

What types of things does APICC want to fund?

  • All mediums of art and culture (e.g., theater, storytelling, stand-up comedy, dance, performance art, solo performance, literary, panel discussion, music, visual art exhibition, performance poetry, film, spoken word, variety showcase, multimedia productions, multi-art productions, etc)
  • Events that feature Pacific Islander and/or Asian American artists centralized within the artistic creation process, and constitute a majority of participating artists


What types of things does APICC not fund?

  • Benefits or fundraisers
  • Events not open or accessible to the general public
  • Events occurring outside of the city and county of San Francisco


In order to receive funding, why must my event be in the city and county of San Francisco?
USAAF is funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and San Francisco Grants for the Arts - both funders focus on artists in San Francisco. We welcome events from the greater SF Bay Area under the Member Events category, but unfortunately are not able to provide funding support at this time.

Every year APICC chooses a different theme relevant to subjects and/or cultures of the Asian Pacific Islander communities that USAAF artists can respond to, uniting all festival events under a singular vision while allowing for various interpretations. The following questions are meant to inspire open interpretations of this year’s theme Regenerative Community:

  • What can we do to care for ourselves and our community? How have our regenerative practices evolved and how are they vital to our sustainability?
  • What are historical traumas Asians and Pacific Islanders have faced and how have they shaped our history, our culture, and today? How are we as a community addressing these traumas and working towards a future of healing and restorative justice?
  • How do we renew and sustain our drive and passion to be artists, organizers, cultural workers, and community leaders in the face of oppression?


To apply at the Member, Showcase, and Focus event levels, the guidelines state that I must have previously participated as an artist in previous festivals. What does this mean?
To apply to USAAF as a producing artist, APICC prefers that you either a) have participated as a lead artist in a previous festival event or b) have a demonstrated history of successfully self-producing arts events and are able to meet all festival deadlines and commitments. Because our new commissioning program invests deeper in fewer artists, we prefer to work with artists who have some sort of history of producing events within the Bay Area API arts ecosystem. If you have a question about this eligibility item, please contact APICC Artistic Director Melanie Elvena at [email protected].

Can I write my proposal in one sitting?
Although you are welcome to type directly into USAAF’s online form, APICC suggests that you compose your answers offline and then copy and paste your responses into the online form. This ensures your are able to access the information you submit and can complete the entire application before it’s submitted.

What should be included in my budget?
Common budget expenses include artist fees, venue rental, marketing (flyers/posters), documentation, and artistic supplies (like frames or costumes). If these expenses exceed the maximum artist fee, please include other sources of income like ticket revenue, individual donations and grants from local nonprofits and foundations. Your project income and expenses should be equal amounts, indicating that you are spending all income received on your expenses. Feel free to use this Budget Template and Sample Budget.

What work samples should I submit?
Choose work samples that best showcase your quality of work and gives the best sense of the kind of work you do and the event you are proposing. The types of work samples should correspond with the medium of your work. For instance, images should be submitted for visual art shows, videos should be submitted for film screenings, videos and images for performances, and excerpts/manuscripts should be sent in for literary readings.

How much should I apply for?
Showcase events can apply for up to $3,000 in artist fees including $1,000 for the producing artist to pay themselves as lead artists and producers, and $500 for contributing artists. If you are unsure of the total number of artists you’d like to include in your event, apply for the maximum; this number can always be reduced later, but cannot be increased.

Producing Artist and 1 additional artist


Producing Artist and 2 additional artists


Producing Artist and 3 additional artists


Producing Artist and 4 additional artists


Focus events can apply for up to $1,500 in artist fees total and APICC encourages individuals and ensembles to apply for the full amount.

You may also apply for up to $850 in venue fees, $500 for video/photo documentation and $500 for technical staff. APICC encourages you to apply for all maximum events unless you know your expenses will be less than the total, or if you have already secured funding for these specific line items.

Are there word limits on the application?
Please see the application guidelines for word limits in all narrative fields. Although the submission form will not cut off at the designated word limit, applications exceeding word limits will be cut off at the word count limit when reviewed by jurors.

How are decisions made?
Decisions regarding USAAF events are scored by a panel of invited APICC member artists on the following criteria: artistic quality, connection to theme, content, production ability and quality of application materials. Overall, APICC is looking to maximize the diversity of participating artists and organizations and also considers: diversity of artists’ backgrounds, history of funding with APICC, mix of emerging and mid-career artists, Asian American vs. Asian art, local vs. national, and a mix of artistic disciplines. For more information on application criteria, please see the USAAF information packet.

How and when will I be notified?
Artists will be notified via email by December 6, 2017.

Can I get feedback on my application if it is declined?
APICC understands that getting feedback on your application can help you strengthen future applications, please follow instructions in your decline email to solicit feedback on your declined application.

Who do I contact if I still have questions?
Additional questions can be directed to APICC Artistic Director Melanie Elvena at [email protected].