The Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) is a cultural collective of artists, media makers and activists creating art and media to advance social justice. Our work is driven by the fundamental belief that collaboration with and accountability to those communities that are directly impacted by racial, social and economic inequities must be central to our cultural, art, or media making process.
In 2015, artists Tomie Arai, ManSee Kong and Betty Yu formed the Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB), a cultural collective that recognizes the power of art to advance social justice. CAB is comprised of Asian American social justice minded artists, cultural workers, mediamakers, tenants and residents who have roots in activism and movement-building work in Chinatown and NYC. CAB believes that art, culture and media work must serve and advance social justice movements.
CAB launched Here to Stay, a multi-year project that included a series of large-scale outdoor projections that addressed themes of gentrification, displacement and community resilience. Artwork based on oral histories, placekeeping walks, and photography created in community-led workshops was projected onto buildings and public landmarks in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. CAB collaborates with the Chinatown Tenants Union (CTU) of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, a community group that organizes low-income pan-Asian communities around tenant rights, fighting evictions and displacement. CAB has joined forces with CAAAV to protect the rights of people who need affordable housing and advocate for equitable community-based rezoning plan that can fight gentrification.
The intended goals of our new multimedia project, Placekeeping – Here To Stay project are closely aligned with those of CAAAV’s Chinatown Tenants Union (CTU). Building on the success of CAB’s past creative collaboration with CAAAV on the Here to Stay projection project, CAB will work closely with tenants to capture their own stories and memories of Chinatown and LES. “Placekeeping” centers the stories of people most directly impacted by displacement. It’s not just about preserving the facade of buildings but about keeping cultural memories associated with a place alive, local businesses and community centers open and keeping tenants who have raised their families in their homes.