IN celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), the City of Los Angeles recognized three organizations on Friday, May 8, for their contributions to advancing and empowering Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in media arts and entertainment.
Visual Communications, Kollaboration and The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) received the Spirit Award, Dream Award and Hope Award, respectively.
“We know in the Asian perspective in media … we haven’t received recognition in many aspects, especially in entertainment…” California State Treasurer John Chiang said at the May 8 event held at Los Angeles City Hall.
The award for Visual Communications came just one week after it wrapped up the 31st annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, where it screened 155 films.
Francis Cullado, executive director of Visual Communications, who received the award on behalf of the organization, told individuals present at the event briefly about the history of the organization, which is the first non-profit in the United States dedicated to honest and accurate depictions of Asian Pacific Americans through media arts.
“Long before today there was just a collective spirit to show our history, our struggles, our accomplishment. There was a spirit to stand up and speak out for fairness, equality and justice,” Cullado said.
“Thank you for this award as an opportunity to reignite the spirit as we move forward.”
Kollaboration, a non-profit with locations throughout the United States, was recognized for its efforts to help artists from humble beginnings to achieve professional success. In Los Angeles, the organization is located in Koreatown.
At the beginning of the event, the organization showcased one of its artists, Priska Liang, who delivered a soulful performance of an original composition, “Keep to the Path,” which drew a big round of applause from the audience.
Minji Chang, executive direction of Kollaboration, received the award and spoke in a brief video screened at City Hall about how the organization serves as a place for artists and individuals to share their stories.
“I hope that when everybody sees these artists up on the stage owning who they are, owning their craft, showing how much bravery and dedication and passion goes into doing what they’re doing, I hope that they can really appreciate that they’re watching people create themselves right in front of their eyes,” she said.
CAPE, a non-profit with a mission of empowering, educating and connecting AAPI artists and leaders in entertainment and media, was also awarded for its impact in the community.
As the organization enters its 25th year, co-founder and board chair emeritus Wenda Fong shared that CAPE has changed lives, launched and boosted careers, and created programs and opportunities.
“We have worked tenaciously and passionately to grow CAPE into ever higher levels by establishing strong relationships with networks, studios, the guilds, companies, sponsors and our community,” she said. “Many have often heard me say that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and that it is our responsibility to help the next generation so they can stand on our shoulders. CAPE has done this. CAPE has changed lives…Our members have literally changed the face of television, film and social media.”
Fong also shared that CAPE’s #IAm campaign, which celebrates AAPI artists and role models throughout APAHM, is the largest AAPI campaign on YouTube and fourth largest non-profit campaign on the online video platform.
In addition to recognizing the organizations, city officials expressed their appreciation for the AAPI community in Los Angeles. Among them was city Controller Ron Galperin, who shared that 60 percent of employees at his office are AAPIs.
“Today we celebrate the many successes, the innumerable contributions of the [Asian American Pacific Islander American] community, while remembering the challenges, past and present, as we stand as one city from Historic Filipinotown, to Chinatown, to Thai Town to Koreatown, Little Tokyo and more,” Galperin said, noting that AAPI achievements have not come without hardship.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti touted the diversity of the city, to which the AAPI community contributes.
“You can go through 39 countries, many of them Asian Pacific countries, that are represented so that we can say this is indeed a great Cambodian city and a great Vietnamese city and a great Chinese city, and even a great Mongolian city. And all of us that are here together recognizing that this is, what we write today, isn’t just history we read, but that we make,” he said.
Other city officials who attended the event included Council President Herb Wesson Jr., Council President Pro Tempore Mitchell Englander, Councilmember Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer.