20 Years of APAture

Declaring the Legacy of Asian Pacific American Artists


Over 60 emerging artists featured in annual multidisciplinary arts festival

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Since its founding in 1972, Kearny Street Workshop (KSW) has been a longstanding hub for Asian Pacific American (APA) artists. This year marks the 20th anniversary of KSW’s annual, flagship festival, “APAture,” a multidisciplinary arts festival featuring the work of emerging APA artists in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1999. The festival continues to showcase talent in film, literature, music, performance, book arts, and visual art. From October 4 to 27, over 60 artists will present their work to over 1,000 festival-goers across multiple venues in the city. 

In honor of APAture’s 20th anniversary, this year’s festival theme is “DECLARE.” Artists will showcase work that declare and acknowledge legacies of the past and legacies to be established in the future, relating to families (chosen, biological and beyond), communities, representation and more. Among the lineup of featured artists include Jennifer S. Cheng (Literary Arts/NEA Fellow and Publishers Weekly’s “Best Book of 2018”), Anand Vedawala (Book Arts/Executive Director of SF Zine Fest), and returning APAture artists Versoul (Music) and Anh Bui (Visual Arts).


“Exhibiting with APAture in 2017, and being on the visual arts committee in 2018, were two of the few times where I truly felt comfortable in a gallery setting,” shares Bui. “It was both emotional and healing to connect with so many folks from various Asian and Pacific Islander communities throughout the festival, feel their warm energy, and share personal conversations about our experiences. This year, I am excited to see the continued broadening and affirmation of the various communities’ complex and powerful narratives.”

Additional featured artists this year include Alle Hsu (Film/Awarded SFFILM’s 2019 FilmHouse Residency) and Hien Huynh (Performing Arts).

With Asian-Americans rising in the entertainment industry (Crazy Rich Asians, Always Be My Maybe, The Farewell), organizations like Kearny Street Workshop have been the foundation for APA creatives, empowering countless artists and community members to inspire, engage and thrive.

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Kearny Street Workshop has earned the reputation of being a launching pad for APA artists from the Bay Area with APAture alums like comedians Hasan Minhaj (The Daily Show and Patriot Act), Ali Wong (Baby Cobra and Always be My Maybe), Gene Luen Yang (writer/artist, DC’s Super Man), and Hellen Jo (writer, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe). 

In 2017, over ten years after her “first real show” doing stand-up at APAture, Ali Wong was honored as a recipient of KSW’s inaugural Focus Award and shared, “I'm so grateful to Kearny Street Workshop for providing me with the opportunity to get up on stage. The experience was electric and motivated me to do stand-up again and again and again.” 

The 20 year legacy of APAture would also not be possible without a tight knit group of volunteers, curating and coordinating each showcase of the festival each and every season. This year’s Focus Award will honor none other than the pioneer organizers who founded the first APAture festival in 1999. Some of whom include filmmakers Jim Choi (Defender and Changing Season: On the Masumoto Family Farm), Matthew Abaya (Vampariah), writer Russell Gonzaga (Lake County Poet Laureate) and organizers who went on to continue supporting KSW like Claire Light (former KSW Executive Director) and Robynn Takayama (KSW Board Member).

For dates, times, locations, and ticket information, visit our APAture 2019: DECLARE page!

Jason Bayani