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EAST WEST FEST to be Presented by Asian Cultural Council

Running May 3–11, 2021, this four-part online series partners with artists, performers, writers, restaurants, and cultural workers.

EAST WEST FEST to be Presented by Asian Cultural Council

The Asian Cultural Council will present East West Fest, a celebration of storytelling-in words, beyond words, and through the senses. Featuring storytellers from across the arts, this festival questions not only how we tell stories, but who tells the story?

Running May 3-11, 2021, this four-part online series partners with artists, performers, writers, restaurants, and cultural workers with a deep impact within Asian/American communities. This inaugural festival culminates in Asian Cultural Council's fifth East-West Dialogue featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen and multimedia artist Tiffany Chung, both previous ACC grantees.

"East West Fest is a celebration of a community coming together through art, giving ourselves permission to experience and express joy, and unapologetically taking charge of our own stories," says ACC Producer Chris Ignacio and ACC Director of Marketing & Communications Stephanie Chen. "The planning of this festival began in late 2020, with the intent to celebrate Asian/American voices. While the rise of anti-Asian sentiment is not new, recent increased media coverage of racially motivated attacks highlights the importance of speaking up as a community and taking pride in our multifaceted cultural identities. We are not one voice, but a powerful chorus of intersecting stories"

East West Fest opens on May 3 with Tell Me: Storytelling With Words. Curated by The Sống Collective, artists from different mediums share how they're making room for Asian-centered stories. From epic retellings of literary classics to slick hip hop melodies, these stories explore the complex multitude of voices and experiences that inform what it means to be Asian in America. Participating artists include Anu Bhatt, Ruby Ibarra, C.B. Lee, Joe Ngo, Stacy Nguyen, Bao Phi, and Sara Porkalob.

Curated by dance performer-choreographer-educator Mai Lê Hô, See Me: Storytelling Beyond Words takes place on May 4 and features musicians and dancers who share stories that transcend language.

Food takes center stage on May 10 with Share Me: Storytelling Through Food. From behind the scenes with the founders of the latest dessert craze #Baonanas, to an intimate look into the work of Send Chinatown Love, audiences get a taste of how stories can be told through food.

On May 11, East West Fest culminates with Hear Me: Viet Thanh Nguyen & Tiffany Chung featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen and multimedia artist Tiffany Chung discuss how they work to reclaim their own narratives, and what we can do to make sure our stories are heard.

All events are free to the public and will take place at 7 PM EDT. Please visit for more information or register at

About the Participants

Viet Thanh Nguyen's novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and numerous other awards. His most recent publication is the sequel to The Sympathizer, The Committed. His other books are a short story collection, The Refugees; Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction); and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He has also published Chicken of the Sea, a children's book written in collaboration with his six-year-old son, Ellison. He is a University Professor, the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, he is also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and the editor of The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.

Viet Thanh Nguyen received an ACC Fellowship in 2010 to research photography and memory in Vietnam.

Tiffany Chung (Vietnam/USA) is internationally noted for her research-based installations and cartographic works that examine conflict, environmental disaster, progress, and forced migration in relation to the history of specific places across time and terrain. Her work remaps historical and cultural memories of traumatized topographies; creates interventions into the political narratives produced through statecraft with people's remembrance; and unpacks forced displacement and refugee migration within the complex framework of political, social, economic, and environmental processes, impacted by war destruction and climate disaster. Chung was awarded the Sharjah Biennial Artist Prize (2013), named Jane Lombard Fellow for Art & Social Justice at the Vera List Center, New School (2018-2020), and honored with the 2020 Asia Arts Game Changer Awards India by Asia Society. Her upcoming projects will be presented at the Dallas Museum of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Museum.

Tiffany Chung received an ACC Fellowship in 2015 towards research in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia on sites of former Vietnamese refugee camps.

The Sống Collective was founded by Vietnamese Theatre artists: David Lee Huynh, Carolina Đỗ, and Jonathan Castanien, in the spring of 2019 as a response to the United States' sharp cuts to refugee resettlement in the face of a global refugee crisis. The Sống Collective's mission is to reclaim the Vietnamese American narrative by creating development and performance opportunities for emerging artists of color. We nurture a community of artists whose work explores questions of identity, race, intersectionality, immigration, and the refugee experience. We are dedicated to telling stories that dare to subvert preconceptions of Asian Americans.

Mai Lê Hô is a French-Vietnamese dance performer-choreographer-educator, DJ and curator who relocated from Paris to NYC in 2009. In 2015 Mai Lê founded LayeRhythm Jam, a monthly performance event that brings live musicians to collaborate with street/club dancers. Since 2019, the project has been taking its club roots to the stage with The LayeRhythm Experiment company, performing at 92Y, Jacob's Pillow, Purdue University (online), Bridge Street Theater (online), and offering virtual educational programs for emcees, musicians and dancers. Today Mai Lê is the Executive and Artistic Director of LayeRhythm Productions INC, a non-profit dedicated to highlighting freestyle voices in performance art. Mai Lê has been a core dancer in the pioneering street dance theater company Rennie Harris PureMovement since 2013, and in the emerging Passion Fruit dance company since 2016.

Send Chinatown Love is a New York based, entirely volunteer run organization, whose goal is to provide relief to small, immigrant-owned, Chinatown businesses impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Chinatowns across New York have suffered greatly. Stay at home orders, coupled with a rise in Anti-Asian racism and xenophobia, has meant decreased foot traffic and tourism. At the same time, most Chinatown businesses were rejected for government loans due to application requirements inequitable to immigrant run microbusinesses. Focusing on cash-only, pen-and-paper businesses that aren't able to use gift card, donation, or app delivery solutions, Send Chinatown Love facilitates community support by creating digital platforms for businesses in need so that they may be able to sustain themselves now and in the future.

#Baonanas is a banana pudding sensation based in Jersey City. Founded by descendants of Filipino immigrants, born and raised in the country's most diverse city, #Baonanas celebrates the Philippines' rich culinary flavors. Inspired by and rooted in community, #Baonanas uses its platform to share stories of people who put their heart into whatever they're baonanas for.

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