Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Asian Women Donors Grant $82,000 to NYC Artists and Non-profits Committed to Activism Thru The Arts

New York City, NY – A music video that raises awareness about sex-trafficking, a documentary about mental illness and suicide in the Asian American community, and a multi-media summer workshop for low-income immigrant girls who live with the legacy of war are among the nine New York City-based non-profit arts projects that received $82,000 in grants from the Asian Women Giving Circle (AWGC) this year.

The grants, which represent a $12,000 increase from AWGC’s giving from the year before, come at a time when state and local government funding for the arts is down. In 2009, state legislative arts appropriations decreased nationwide for the first time in four years—down 3.3 percent to $343.1 million. Local arts funding also fell by 3 percent, according to research by Americans for the Arts and Giving USA Foundation.

“Arts funding, especially for small organizations with bold ideas, has been a major casualty of the recession,” said Hali Lee, founder of the Asian American Women Giving Circle. “We’re proud to be doing our part to bridge the gap — and hope our efforts will inspire others to support artists and nonprofits that are using the arts to make a social difference.”
The nine grantees were chosen for their excellence in using the tools of culture, the arts and education to raise awareness and catalyze action around critical issues that impact Asian American communities. The grants will be formally awarded at a garden party at the Mertz Gilmore Foundation on June 30th from 6 to 8 pm. And, on September 29th from 6 to 8 pm at the Museum of Chinese in Americas (MOCA) the Asian Women Giving Circle will showcase the work of grantees at its 4th Annual Celebration of Activism thru the Arts. Media are invited to both events.

In its fifth year of raising resources and philanthropists, the AWGC has raised and distributed over $380,000 in New York City to thirty-nine individual artists and community-based organizations. “One promising trend that has emerged from the funding crisis is that more arts groups are looking for ways to partner with social service organizations, whose role in the community is more critical than ever,” said AWGC Director Angie Wang. “These types of collaboration have always been at the heart of the Giving Circle’s mission, and we’re gratified to see it picking up steam across the arts sector.”

The 2010 AWGC grant recipients, each of whom will receive awards of $8,000 to $10,000, are:

Asian American Writers’ Workshop – Double Exposure: War Narratives at Home
The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is the largest non-profit devoted to creating, publishing, developing and disseminating creative writing by Asian Americans. Double Exposure: War Narratives at Home is a multi-media, Pan-Asian arts workshop that will focus on the experiences of Asian American girls ages 14-18 displaced by war. This nine-week, intensive summer workshop led by women artists will bring together low-income, underrepresented girls who are primary and secondary witnesses to war (from the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Burma, Iran, etc.) to share the stories of their lives through photography and writing, encouraging bonds across nationalities and generations.

DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association – Paglalakbay: Journeys of Filipina Domestic Workers
Paglalakbay is a multi-arts project that partners domestic workers with young Filipino cultural workers (photographers, visual artists, performance artists, poets and musicians) to document their working conditions, life, resilience and resistance. Through arts skills training workshops, Filipino women workers will produce cultural works to be used for a public showcase, campaign materials for DAMAYAN, and as a source for generating income. Two key cultural art products from this project are the Paglalakbay Memory Cookbook, which will include recipes from various regions of the Philippines that have been adapted to the US by the women workers and a month-long public installation of art works created over the course of the project. DAMAYAN Migrant Workers Association is a grassroots organization based in New York and New Jersey that promotes the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers.

Desipina Productions – Out of the Kitchen and Into the Fire
Founded in 2000, Desipina Productions is a Brooklyn-based South Asian and Asian American theater and film arts company. Its mission is to combat stereotypes in pop culture and mainstream culture by providing points of views rarely seen. The project is a three-month series of events by women including a tour of “Hiding Divya,” a film about mental illness among three generations of women in a South Asian family produced and directed by Desipina’s founders, play readings, and a panel on APA women in the arts. The tour will include colleges and community centers in New York and across the country. The purpose of the series is to start a dialogue about mental illness within the South Asian community and to counter stereotypes of Asian women in the broader society.

Hanalei Ramos and Jung Ung | the Asian Arts Initiative – Cycles
“Cycles” is a multi-ethnic, multi-media art project that includes a documentary featuring short interviews with more than150 customers at two laundromats in Woodside, Queens and Jersey City, NJ, most of whom are women who reflect the dynamic and evolving demographic changes in their communities. Raw highlights of interviews will be posted to a web site and on YouTube and shown at Asian American film festivals, community centers and college campuses. In addition, installations will be placed in both laundromats to display photographs and stories of interviewees. The project will highlight the oral histories of Asian women within their immigrant communities, empowering women to become advocates for the community issues affecting them.

May Ling Lai – Music Video on Child Trafficking
May Ling Lai is an Asian American woman singer, songwriter, and producer. Building on the success of a music video and public service announcement (PSA) she produced about domestic violence entitled “Someday.” May Ling will create a music video and public education campaign to raise awareness about the problem of child trafficking, globally and here in New York City. In addition to the music video, footage will be used to create a public service announcement. Online discussions, forums, blogs, and other internet media will be used to create awareness on this issue and inspire activism.

Pearl J. Park via Light Fish Arts – Can
“Can,” a documentary film produced by Asian American director Pearl J. Park, is a realistic, balanced and in-depth film portrayal of the mental illness and suicide within the Asian American community. It will be used to educate mental health providers who have little to no cross-cultural training and may be unfamiliar with traditional Asian practices and beliefs. In addition, the documentary will be shared with key Asian American opinion leaders to help create a social dialogue about this serious health issue and break the taboo power of mental illness within Asian American communities.

Ping Chong & Company – Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors
“Secret Survivors” is a theatrical multimedia production featuring survivors of child sexual abuse sharing their stories through dramatic narrative. The piece, which draws upon Ping Chong & Company “Undesirable Elements” model (an interview-based theater project exploring social justice issues through the lens of culture and identity), will act as a vehicle to break taboos, improve community and policy responses, and generate healing through storytelling. Secret Survivors will be led by Amita Swadhin, a queer South Asian educator, anti-violence activist, and incest survivor. By creating a performance that showcases the story of a South Asian American survivor, the production will provide tools that can raise the issue of child sexual abuse in Asian American communities and help service providers better understand how this abuse plays out in Asian American communities.

Ruby Veridiano – Glamourbaby Diaries
A new project developed by Ruby Veridiano, an Asian American spoken word and hip hop performance artist, poet, and arts educator, Glamourbaby Diaries is an empowerment program for young women, ages 14 to 21, using writing and incorporating media, fashion, and women’s history. The goal of this program is to create an inspiring and provocative space for young women to explore their identity and assert their voices in the public sphere. The program will focus on the leadership and personal development of female leaders, thinkers, and writers, providing participants with tools to strengthen the expression of their opinions and ideas, thus creating opportunities to better represent themselves in their families, schools, and communities.

Women Make Movies – Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded
“Slaying the Dragon: Reloaded” is a 30-minute sequel to the 1986 award-winning film, “Slaying the Dragon: Asian Women in U.S. Television and Film”, a comprehensive look at media stereotypes of Asian and Asian American women since the silent era of film. The film addresses how Hollywood’s visual representations of Asian women have changed with globalization and the transformation of America’s population over the past two decades. By challenging viewers to question the pop culture images they see and by offering alternative voices, Women Make Movies aims to help create real change in the way that Asians are seen.

About the Asian Women Giving Circle
The Asian Women Giving Circle is a group of Asian American women pooling their money to fund other Asian women in NYC who use the tools of art to further a social equity goal. We work together to raise resources to support Asian American serving, Asian American women-led social change organizations in New York City’s under-served communities. We raise resources and philanthropists. AWGC is a donor-advised fund of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (

For more information, please visit

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2010 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. for permission, please contact Lia at

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All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2010 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. for permission, please contact Lia at

Photo by Lia Chang

Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer, an award-winning multimedia journalist.

As a photographer and videographer, Lia collaborates with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive and social media presence. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.

This year, selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space will become part of newly created LIA CHANG THEATER PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.

Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, VIBE, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre,, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle,,,,,, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog.

Other Articles by Lia Chang
Photos of Lion Dancers in Los Angeles Chinatown
Photos: Chinese New Year Festival at The Huntington in San Marino
New York Blizzard of 2010
Snow in New York City’s Central Park
Kevin Anderson, Catherine Dent, Tracee Chimo, John Earl Jelks in Neil La Bute’s The Break of Noon at the Geffen 1/25-3/6
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet,Tracee Chimo opening night of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon
A.B. Cruz III of Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., Lillian Kimura To Receive 2011 Justice in Action Awards
Photos:The Working Theater’s Off-Broadway production of HONEY BROWN EYES by Stefanie Zadravec at The Clurman
Andy Warhol, Romare Bearden, Alexander Calder, Lia Chang in Art & Healing Exhibit at Snug Harbor on SI
Photos & Video Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas-In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Multimedia: Promises, Promises’ Stars Kristin Chenoweth and Sean Hayes at Lord & Taylor Fifth Ave
Making the Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution Bill a Reality
Lia Chang Photos at the Shanghai World Expo 2010’s USA Pavilion, Library of Congress and Hollywood Chinese: The Arthur Dong Collection in L.A.
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive.


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This entry was posted on June 30, 2010 by in Art, Asian American Artists, Asian American Issues, Asian American Pioneers, Chinese American History, Culture, Dance, Entertainment, Film, Japanese American History, Music, New York, Non profit, Photography, Theater and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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