Established in March 2004, the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association (ACSEA) is committed to the development of sustainable projects in the realms of arts and culture. Collaborating with partners locally in British Columbia, Canada, and globally, the volunteer-run organizations’ core values are to explore diversity and cultural exchange. We spoke with Becky Tu, the Outreach Manager for ACSEA, to learn more about them and their upcoming events.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
Asian-Canadian Special Events Association promotes cross-cultural dialogues through various events such as TAIWANfest and LunarFest.
What problem does it aim to solve?
We all have various experiences and backgrounds, but often we remain attached to specific stereotypes whether we are conscious or not. We aim to bring the different communities of Vancouver together, and in sharing stories and the arts, to highlight the beautiful diversity of Canada, in hopes of creating a more inclusive society.
When did you start/join it?
I started by volunteering at ACSEA events, searching for a community that speaks to my own cultural identity. I’ve been working with the organization for nearly two years now. I’m excited to see where next it will take me!
What made you want to get involved?
The organization’s dedication to sharing new perspectives that ask the audience to open their minds and find their curiosity inspired me to learn more about my own culture, and the cultures of those around me. The events are not just a showcase of culture and art, but rather a dialogue that invites festival attendees and artists alike to share their own experiences and build new connections. Examples of this are the special care put into the curation process to ensure that each performance or exhibition is relatable for local Canadian audiences as well as newcomers. TAIWANfest caught my attention because I wanted to find a community that resonated with my own cultural heritage. The various disciplines and art forms at the festival were very fun to experience and kept me coming back for more stories.
What was the situation like when you started?
Our organization feels that while Canada is a very multicultural society, with many cultural events taking place throughout the year, at times there is a disconnect between the different communities that coexist here. Through our events and collaborations with local artists and organizations, we hope to build more connections and invite the general public to come together to learn about not only ourselves but our neighbours, too.
How has it changed since?
We’ve steadily built solid relationships and friendships with community members and organizations. Our events and projects have brought artists from different cultural backgrounds together. As a result, our audiences have widened, intermingling and sharing together. It is a truly wonderful sight to behold, and we hope to continue to do more in this aspect. LunarFest, our wintertime festival celebrating the Lunar New Year, is particularly focused on bringing different communities together. We’ve learned a lot from the Indigenous communities through their art and stories. This also helps newcomers to Canada to reflect on their own identity, and how they can embrace an inclusive and diverse society.
How can our readers help?
Check out our events! We do our best to offer our events at little to no cost for all our attendees and work hard to translate our TAIWANfest programming, as accessibility is the key to starting conversations. Volunteer with us! We believe everybody has a story to tell. Our volunteers are often multilingual, new immigrants, or local community members with a passion for sharing culture. We appreciate every one of our volunteers.
Do you have any events coming up?
We are gearing up for TAIWANfest! It is an annual festival that takes place in Downtown Vancouver, along Granville Street, in the šxwƛ̓ ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square, and various venues such as the ANNEX and the Orpheum. TAIWANfest explores cultural connections between Taiwan, Canada, and the world through the arts. Our programming includes film, visual exhibitions, craft activities, Hope Talks, live performances, and more. In 2016, TAIWANfest began a Dialogue with Asia series, exploring the shared trajectories of history and social values between Taiwan and other Asian countries, such as Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, etc. This year, building on what we have learned in previous chapters, the festival is dialoguing with the world, starting with the Netherlands. The Dutch colonized Taiwan for a few decades in the 17th century. The impact of this can still be seen today. This year, TAIWANfest is examining concepts of migration, identity, and decolonization. How does the world see Taiwan, from centuries ago to now? More importantly, how does Taiwan see itself?
Sept 2 – 4, 2023. Discover the Self-Portraits of Formosa with us in Downtown Vancouver. Free admission, everyone welcome!
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
Our sister charity organization, The Society of We Are Canadians Too, is also making waves in uplifting the underrepresented. From the new media initiative Vancouver that highlights underrepresented communities in the arts and culture scene, to the Jade Music Festival which strives to provide a platform in Canada for Chinese-language artists.