S.F. initiative that uses art to combat AAPI hate receives $1 mil. in state funding

California Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, on Aug. 23 announced $1 million in state funding for an initiative that aims to raise awareness about racism against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

The funding, provided through a state budget grant, will support the ‘We the Future’ initiative, which works to empower AAPI communities and artists through social justice work.

The initiative consists of two programs: a citywide art festival called The Future Is and a grant opportunity for local artists called the AAPI Artists Futures Fund.

According to Wiener, the funding will help increase awareness and education about issues facing AAPI communities amid a wave of racist and xenophobic attacks against AAPI people being reported at unprecedented rates.

According to the San Francisco-based nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate, between March 19, 2020 and March 31, 2021, there were at least 6,600 hate crimes reported nationwide, with 359 of those having occurred in San Francisco. Experts have said the true number of hate crimes against Asian Americans over the last 18 months is likely even higher since many go unreported.

“All racism and hate is unacceptable, and this year, we’ve seen a horrific rise in anti-AAPI hate crimes,” Wiener said in a statement.

“We need to fight this hate and bigotry on all fronts, and that means investing in AAPI artists and those working to end anti-AAPI hate. The arts — particularly when it comes to artists from marginalized communities — are chronically underfunded, and I am proud to have championed this grant in order to provide more support for the AAPI artist community,” he said.

The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco will spearhead the project.

“This is a historic investment for cultural equity. This support will empower our communities to tell our own narrative and how we can build a new future,” Chinese Culture Center Executive Director Jenny Leung said.

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