About Us

The Asian American Arts Centre was founded as the Asian American Dance Theatre in 1974 in New York City to address the distinctive concerns of Asian Americans in the United States.  Asian American Dance Theatre was active from inception until the early 90s.

Community Art classes were introduced in early 1980 along side with dance, and with an increase in visual arts programming, the AADT changed its legal name to the Asian American Arts Centre (AAAC) in 1987.

AAAC is a non-profit community arts organization utilizing performances, exhibitions, folk art, and public education. Our mission is to promote the preservation and creative vitality of Asian American cultural growth through the arts, and its historical and aesthetic linkage to other communities.  AAAC programs have grown and contracted, touching upon dance performances, contemporary and folkart exhibitions, traditional crafts, and education.

Since 1982, the Art Centre’s Visual Arts  Exhibitions Program has continued, occasionally mounting exhibitions and producing catalogues, despite the closing of its formal gallery in 2010. It includes a research archive – AAAC Artist Archive - of over 1,700 entries. It is a historical image and document archive reflecting the creative presence of Asian American artists in the United States from 1945.

With a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) a professional digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary visual artists - artasiamerica.org was created in 2009. This archive, reflecting about 10% of the AAAC Artists Archive, draws its artists primarily from the record of exhibitions mounted by AAAC, selecting artists whose artwork is the most exemplary of the themes that compose the subject of Asian American art.

The great diversity of Asian American artists to be seen on artasiamerica.org may seem like everything everywhere were it not for the themes that evolved during each year of exhibition programming. These are accessible here under Timeline where the exhibition themes are listed.

From 1988 to 1993, the Art Centre published seven issues of the journal Artspiral in traditional print, with  one issue published online, which focused on contemporary topics in the arts.

Other Special Projects presented here on this website include:
The June 4, 1989 exhibition
Uncle Ng Comes to America

From 1982 to 1994, each year the Art Centre held a nine month Artist in Residence Program (AIR) with funding from the New York State, providing work opportunities to one to two artists each year, and exhibitions for their artworks.

During four decades of activity and through to today, a picture of Asian American art continues to emerge from the Art Centre’s work; the roles of family, community, identity, tradition, folk sources, spirituality, the marketplace and politics of art and innovative personalities have all been essential in shaping the past and current cultural presence of Asians in the US in the 21st century.

As a community organization, we walk a fine line between national and international concerns, born in the crucible of local strivings and seeking the next step towards a new world of cross-cultural understandings. International factors beyond its means, yet embedded in an ethnic community’s soul, may determine whether a new equanimity is established between its past and the contradictory forces pulling at its center —this is at the heart of our Asian American endeavor.

This website primarily serves as a record for our past programs, to keep up with us follow us on our blog, Flickr, Facebook, or Instagram.

Asian American Arts Centre
111 Norfolk St  New York, NY 10002