Philadelphia Asian Performing Artists (PAPA) is a grassroots, membership-based collective that exists to build community among, and address the lack of economic and artistic opportunities for, people of Pan-Asian descent involved in the performing arts in the Philadelphia region. We do this through member-led programming such as community-building events, professional development programs, performance opportunities, and grassroots organizing. These programs are designed and implemented through the framework of “For Us, By Us, Beyond Us,” and fueled by our values.
PAPA’s membership is composed of people of Pan-Asian descent, which we understand to non-exhaustively include: Asian, Asian American, Southeast Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, Southwest Asian, Central Asian, Indo-Carribean, and multi-racial. As a community of many different cultures, ethnicities, and lived experiences coming together under a single banner, we care more about self-determination than trying to encompass the fullness of our community under a single perfect phrase. If you identify as Asian, we welcome you to join us. Beyond this shared racial identity, PAPA’s members are all involved in the Philadelphia-region as artists, administrators, technicians, curators, funders, academics, hobbyists, audience members, and more. PAPA centers its members in all of its activities.
PAPA’s work is built from the expressed vision and needs of its members and implemented by the hands of its members, some as staff and many as volunteers. While other communities within Philadelphia are often invited into PAPA’s processes and participate in and benefit from PAPA’s work, our programming is always developed with the vision and needs of the membership at the core.
PAPA’s influence on the Philadelphia art scene and the city-at-large is both a natural and intentional extension of its activities in service of the membership. Through our work we create a wider understanding and appreciation of Asian and Asian American art and culture; support, advocate, and care for the wider Asian and Asian American communities in the Philadelphia region; and build solidarity in practice with Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color in the fight for racial and economic justice.
Philadelphia to be known as a place where anyone involved in the performing arts of Pan-Asian descent thrives. Where we define our involvement in the arts on our own terms and timelines. Where we tell our stories without having to over-explain our culture. Where we are fairly compensated for our artistic and emotional work. Where mentorship is easily accessible. Where we can walk onstage and see an audience that looks like us. Where we forge personal and professional relationships alike across disciplines and artistic practices. With every program, event, meeting, and email, we bring this vision into view.
We center the voices of artists of Pan-Asian descent and provide space and time to curate ambitious programming that celebrates this lineage, heritage, and political and personal history.
Coming as You Are
Whether you are involved in the arts as a full-time job or make art on the weekends; whether you are first or fifth generation; whether you are a parent, a college student, or an elder – we create spaces meant to hold the complex and intersecting identities of anyone in our community.
Wholistic Artist Care
Being an artist is so much more than the finished performance we see on stage. From residencies to movie nights to performance opportunities, workshops, potluck dinners, and more, we create programming that allows artists to thrive.
Following the Lead of our Members
Through community-engaged practices, our work and our processes are informed by the ever-shifting chorus of voices that make up our constituency and the larger community we serve.
We want every event we produce to celebrate our community and nurture connections at both the professional and personal level. We embrace the feeling of sitting down together to eat whenever we gather.
Building our Own Systems
We cultivate a world where artists of Pan-Asian descent can tell their stories at any volume, in any language, with any textures they choose without fear or shame.
We support artistic work and organizational processes that break away from the “model minority” myth as well as any other effects of white supremacy. We organize against instances of oppression in our community, city, and world.
Check out PAPA's newly articulated Mission, Vision and Values from our Strategic Planning Committee
After an amazing '21 summer of dreaming and visioning have come up with the following to share with the General Body:
We are proud to share the PAPA Organizing Branch Problem and Vision Statements. These two statements were created to act as an internal compass to help guide the programming and other strategic work of the Organizing Committee, and as an external statement of our purpose and goals.
*These statements are not universal to all of PAPA's work. This is a living document that will evolve alongside the Organizing Committee. In that vein, we recognize that PAPA serves, represents and works alongside people with diverse and nuanced racialized identities. We use People of the Asian Diaspora as a placeholder for now knowing that we are actively working to construct more specific language around those identities.
A new iteration of the Organizing Committee will soon be forming, with the purpose of beginning to strategically design and begin implementing programming for PAPA's general body in 2021.