USAAF 2021 Press Release

Contact: Christina Leilani Campbell
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Asian American artists center hope in face of anti-Asian violence in San Francisco’s 24th Annual United States of Asian America Festival

Eth-Noh-Tec performs Red Altar. Image courtesy of the artists.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA, March 26, 2021- Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC) presents the 24th annual United States of Asian America Festival (USAAF), dedicated to highlighting the artistic accomplishments and cultural diversity of San Francisco’s Pacific Islander and Asian American communities. USAAF is making waves within the Bay Area, with a lineup featuring rising artists in visual art, podcast, music, theatre, and dance scenes throughout San Francisco and beyond. The festival includes innovative art productions and events including Sowing Agency (opening exhibition), art by Vida Kuang (artist and educator), Liwanag 3 (SOMAPilipinas) and Eth-Noh-Tec (Asian American kinetic storytelling), as well as many more locally grown artists and programs. 

Forging our Futures Through Art Amidst Anti-Asian Hate

“For Asian Pacific Islander communities, this past year has been mired in such immense pain and tragic loss - countless lives taken by COVID-19, numerous legacy businesses closing with others struggling to survive, social and cultural hubs left barren, and the frightening rise of anti-Asian violence here in the SF Bay Area and nationwide,” says Melanie Elvena, Artistic Director of APICC. “I want this year’s festival to be a sanctuary where art becomes the channel through which our communities hold our grief, tell our stories, and collectively imagine futures of hope and recovery where we can thrive beyond this moment.” Under the theme of Forging Our Futures, USAAF gives AAPI artists the opportunity to build platforms and tell stories that empower AAPI communities of San Francisco.

Using Our Voices to Increase AAPI Representation and Awareness

2021 has been a pivotal year for AAPI representation, specifically in the San Francisco Bay Area. This includes film stars Daniel Wu and Ali Wong, dance company director Lenora Lee, visual artist Bernice Bing and well-known comedians Margaret Cho and Hasan Minhaj. In light of the countless anti-Asian hate crimes that have directly impacted the AAPI community on top of the pandemic, many of these artists have spoken out to condemn the violence that is happening across the country. Similar to what these artists are doing, USAAF provides a space to foster hope and resiliency for the AAPI community. 

The United States of Asian America Festival has long been a space for API artists, emerging and established alike, to create something new and very much needed. This year, positioned in a poignant moment of looking back, the festival is a cultivation and celebration of Asian Pacific Islander memory and future-making. Ranging from renewing intergenerational histories to cultivating community care, spanning grief, revival, nourishment, and everything in between, the festival’s 20+ programs take place throughout San Francisco from April 30 to June 26. A comprehensive festival schedule can be found at 

Artist Cindy Shih paints in her studio.

Sowing Agency artist, Cindy Shih, paints in her studio.
Image courtesy of the artist.

Sowing Agency (Opening April 30) - This year’s festival kicks off with Sowing Agency, a multidisciplinary arts exhibition activating our AAPI communities to engage in the issues of today’s climate crisis. Artists include muralist and painter Priya Kaur Handa and long time community organizer Pam Tau Lee. Presented in partnership with the Asian American Women Artists Association.

Liwanag 3 (June 5) - SOMA Pilipinas presents the Liwanag 3 book launch, a showcase of Filipino readings in genres ranging from poetry, fiction, playwriting, comics/graphic novels and featuring paintings, prints, illustrations and/or photography.

"If We Only Knew" (June 12) - Eth-Noh-Tec presents their 40th anniversary concert as an Asian American kinetic storytelling group, examining how much the ‘then’ they chose created the ‘future’ we now live.