Q+A: Lisa Gold, Asian American Arts Alliance

The Asian American Arts Alliance is an organization that supports artistic and cultural producers in New York by sharing, promoting and building community. Since 1984, this organization has been running programs that adapt to artists’ needs and to the organizational possibilities. Join us in giving a warm welcome to their new(ish)  Executive Director, Lisa Gold. We sat down with her to learn more about her and the Alliance’s work.

Can you tell us about the history of the Asian American Arts Alliance?

It was founded about 35 years ago to support Asian American Arts organizations, primarily in Chinatown. Since then, the mission has expanded and now we serve artists, arts organizations and the community by sharing resources and promoting the work that’s being done and amplifying the voices and talents of the Asian American arts community.

Can you tell us what the Asian American Arts Alliance does and the programs that you offer?

We bring together the creative community. We are currently running four key programs. We do a bi-monthly program called Town Hall where artists and organizations get together and they pitch their projects or ask for collaborators. Our next Town Hall is May 14th, and it is free. The Alliance Art Exchange is another of our programs and it is a professional development series of panels, workshops and talks that help create concrete pathways of access between artists and cultural gatekeepers such as curators and artistic directors.  And we also offer Fellowships and Awards, which provide cash stipends and professional development coaching to Asian American artists and arts administrators, as well as online learning and engagement opportunities for a wider audience.

There are so many talented people doing, inspiring creative things every day that it keeps me excited.

Photo by Gerrie Lim
Photo by Gerrie Lim

How has the Asian American Arts has changed over the past four decades?

Well, about 10 years ago, before the financial crisis, we were doing a re-granting program. We gave money to individual artists and arts organizations in the community, but that money just dried up after the financial crisis so we had to shift what we were doing. We still offer programs like the fellowships and awards that I mentioned before, but it is a challenge because we don’t receive the corporate funds that we used to redistribute. That was the biggest change.

What's a regular day for you? What's your favorite part of the work?

Every single day is very different. I can be in the office in the morning and then at a fundraising event in the afternoon and on the stairs of City Hall advocating for equality for Asian American organizations by the evening, speaking with city council members and talking about the 15% and Growing Coalition which we’re part of. Another day I'll be meeting with an Asian American institution or meeting with an artist or performer, or at an art fair. Every single day is a little bit different but it is very exciting to be able to meet so many people in the community. I go to all five boroughs because we support and promote artists all over the city whether it is a Chinese arts festival in Flushing or Sri Lankan artist in Staten Island. We try to provide support to everybody. My favorite part is getting to experience the incredible talent and diversity of the creative population of New York. There are so many talented Asian Americans doing, inspiring creative things every day that it keeps me excited.

My favorite part is getting to experience the incredible talent and diversity of the creative population of New York.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

My background is primarily in the Visual Arts; I worked and volunteered for a lot of non-profit organizations in New York. I was in DC for about six years running an artist service and presenting organization called Washington Project for the Arts. Then I went to the Hirshhorn Museum were I was the director of public engagement. Then I came back to New York and I have been working at the Asian American Alliance a little over 5 months.

What are you most proud of from your tenure here?

I think that working with this amazing organization and the fact that I am able to help very talented artists who most of the time don’t have the resources or the support or the personal networks to be able to share their work. Through the Alliance, their amazing work can get out to the world. I am happy to see all these artists making work and the huge network of people supporting them--that is the most exciting thing about my job.

What do we have to look forward to at Asian American Arts?

We are going to have a new website soon, and I am so excited for it. We have some great programs coming up; we are focusing on expanding our events and our content in our website and social media.

What is your favorite spot in DUMBO?

My favorite spot in DUMBO is the park. I love the park on Jay St, I go there every day with my dog, Maka. I love to feel connected to the water and hear the water crashing against the shore.