I Come From A Place Called Asian Arts Initiative
Since 1993 the Asian Arts Initiative has used the arts to address social issues relevant to Asian Americans and other groups, particularly youth, whose experiences are marginalized in popular culture. Initially founded as a response to racial tensions in Philadelphia, AAI quickly bloomed into a vibrant community arts organization facilitating a broad range of workshops, performances and exhibitions. But in the fall of 2006, the group received notice that their building on the edge of Chinatown would be demolished to make way for the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It would be a repeat of a persistent history of displacement for this Center City Asian American community in an era of urban revitalization.I Come From A Place shows AAI staff and members reflecting on their history as they prepare to relocate to a then unknown location and an uncertain future. It demonstrates the capacity of artistic expression in encouraging personal and community empowerment, and portrays the affront to vital urban communities by urban development.
Asian Arts Initiative, a community arts center in Center City Philadelphia, is a unique and vital meeting place where artists and everyday people gather to think critically and creatively about the experiences of Asian Americans. In the coming months, the organization will have to relocate to make way for the expansion of the Convention Center. Through Precious Places, the group aims to record not only their memories but also their opposition to being displaced.