USAAF 2020 Press Release

Contact: Diana Li
[email protected]

San Francisco, an Epicenter for Asian American Arts in U.S

23rd Annual United States of Asian America Festival showcases rising stars in Asian Pacific Islander Arts Online

USAAF 2020 Featured Artist, Sami See in her studio. Photo by Lorenz Angelo.
USAAF 2020 Featured Artist, Sami See in her studio. Photo by Lorenz Angelo.

SAN FRANCISCO, May 1, 2020
- The 23rd annual United States of Asian America Festival is making waves with a lineup of rising stars now translating their music, dance, literary and visual arts programs online. Produced by the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC), virtual attendees can look forward to interactive artistic programs by Samantha "Sami See" Schilf  (Muralist and Visual Artist), Jon Jang (Jazz Musician and Composer) and Kearny Street Workshop (Cultural Organization), among dozens of other local artists.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a history of producing Asian American artists who achieve mainstream fame, including Chef Martin Yan, Samin Nosrat, Dancing with the Stars’ Cheryl Burke, comedians Margaret Cho, Ali Wong, and Hasan Minhaj; and in music, DJ Qbert, emcee Lyrics Born, Ruby Ibarra and most recently, American Idol contestant, Francisco Martin. 

“It's very important now that we as Asians and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) unite in solidarity for each other and other vulnerable communities,” shares Melanie Elvena, Artistic Director of APICC. “I want the festival to serve as a platform for APIAs but also as a means to reflect on the parallel experiences and concerns of marginalized communities, fostering empathy and advocacy for one another as we work to sustain our culture and keep spirits up in the xenophobic age of coronavirus and knowing the 2020 US presidential election looms ahead.”

Founded in 1996, APICC continues to grow alongside established arts organizations like Kearny Street Workshop, Bindlestiff Studio, SOMArts Cultural Center, Manilatown Heritage Foundation, CAAMfest, SOMA Pilipinas and Balay Kreative; all based in San Francisco. There is a strong track record and deep roots in the city for APIA creatives to connect and make an impact in the year 2020. Despite having to engage online in the age of social distancing, the festival continues to bring thought-provoking storytelling under this year’s politically inspired theme, Finding Kinship.

San Francisco has been an influential and historic hub for Asian Americans to create innovative artistic programming. With about 16 exhibitions and performances live streaming and releasing online throughout May-June, USAAF will light up San Francisco’s rich API legacy on computer screens across the Bay Area and beyond. For a full list of festival events and updates, visit


Legacy and Lineage | Co-Presented by Center for Asian American Media (short film presentation)
Releasing on APICC’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram May-June
A series of short films profiling the unique journeys of 5 Asian American community artists - Sammay Dizon, Genny Lim, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Sami See, Francis Wong - whose works consistently place community at the center. The films explore the reasons that drive these outstanding artists and legacies that may point to the direction of the future of Asian American artists in San Francisco. 

Wander Woman 2  | Curated by Rea Lynn de Guzman 
Artists take over the @wander_woman_artists IG account throughout May. 
Artist Panel Live Stream, June 5, 2020 at 8-9:30pm via Zoom.
Wander Woman 2 provides an empowering and engaging platform for Bay Area-local, Asian Pacific American immigrant women of color. Its mission is to highlight the artists and their work, and to amplify their voices by presenting significant conversations surrounding issues of equity, gender roles, and underrepresentation.

Rosalyn Learns How to Misbehave: A Zoom Puppet Story  | Ramon Abad (kid friendly puppet show in partnership with Bindlestiff Studio)
Live Stream, June 6, 2020 at 2-2:35pm via Zoom.
Ramon Abad and the Bindlestiff Studio Puppet Crew present a live stream puppet performance with about 9 artists/storytellers via Zoom. The event will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube & other social media platforms.

The 9th Dambana | Sami See (USAAF 2020 Featured Artist / visual art exhibition)
Launching illustrations on postcards with augmented reality capabilities.
Multidisciplinary artist Sami See brings multimedia portraits of Filipino-American women to life with augmented reality, amplifying unique diasporic narratives that breathe life into legacy. Stories narrated by loved ones of those portrayed, weave struggle, resilience, and power into sacred offerings that bloom. 


Presented by Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center as part of Asian Pacific Heritage Month. Featuring 16 events in music, dance, film, food, theater, literature, visual arts, experimental media, and more showcasing Asian and Pacific Islander artists.

May-June 2020

Online in various formats and platforms

High resolution (300dpi photos) available at:


Each year, the United States of Asian American Festival (USAAF) presents up to 20 different programs reflecting the artistic accomplishments and cultural diversity of San Francisco’s Pacific Islander and Asian American communities. USAAF showcases artists representing a diverse range of ethnic and cultural groups and aims to heighten the visibility of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) artists working in all disciplines - theater, music, dance, film, literature, visual arts, and more! Our goal is to nurture and empower these groups to be self-sufficient while providing the support they need to grow. USAAF is funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.

This year’s theme, Finding Kinship, exposes the importance and need for various forms of kinship and empowered community building for Pacific Islanders and Asians living in America - familial, creative and cultural, chosen families, geographical, spiritual, political, and beyond. The festival honors our shared stories, and reveals different parallels and intersections that imagine a future of empathy and solidarity between marginalized communities.


Our mission at the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC) is to support and present multidisciplinary art reflective of the unique experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders living in the United States.

APICC was founded in 1996 by representatives of five nonprofit arts groups: Asian American Dance Performances, First Voice, Asian Improv aRts, the Asian American Theater Company, and Kearny Street Workshop. Since 1998, the center has promoted the artistic and organizational growth of San Francisco’s API arts community by organizing and presenting the annual United States of Asian America Festival as well as commissioning contemporary art for and by the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.