What Can We Do?

Asian American Arts Alliance (A4)

29 West 38th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10018


Jan 07, 2024


Oct 16, 2023


What Can We Do? (WCWD?), presented by the Asian American Arts Alliance (A4), is a grant opportunity for artists looking to support the Asian and AAPI communities in NYC with engaging, creative projects rooted in care. The lingering effects of the twin pandemics of COVID and anti-Asian hate – including Islamophobia – continue to be felt today. In response, many mutual aid groups, direct service organizations, and community and business leaders have stepped in to take care of elders and other vulnerable Asian and AAPI community members across the city.

WCWD? gives artists a chance to find their place in the care ecosystem either by complementing existing services and offerings, or creating their own.


For this program, 18 NYC-based artists will be selected as project awardees by the A4 team. Each artist will receive $1,500 to create and carry out ideas to engage, aid, and care for the Asian New Yorker community with a focus on Chinatown, Manhattan; Flushing, Queens; and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The project engagements must be completed within a four-month period (February 1–June 2, 2024).

Projects may take many forms such as performing music for seniors waiting in line at food pantries or leading workshops to create ‘zines that reinforce positive aspects of AAPI culture. While we prefer projects to be in-person activities, we understand that for safety reasons, projects might need to be virtual. You can review past projects here.


An information session for those interested in applying was held on Tuesday, November 28 from 12:00-1:00 pm ET via Zoom. You can find the recording here.


The Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring greater representation, equity, and opportunities for Asian American artists and cultural organizations through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Since 1983, A4 has sought to unify, promote, and represent the artistic and cultural producers of one of New York City’s fastest-growing populations. We are a diverse alliance of artists, organizations, and arts supporters who believe that working together as a pan-ethnic, multidisciplinary community is essential to nurturing the development of artists and arts groups. A4 serves as a thoughtful convener of the Asian American cultural workforce around issues of race, identity, and artmaking and provides a critical voice for this community. We are the only service organization in the country dedicated to the professional development of Asian American and Pacific Islander artists in all disciplines.



Are you a NYC-based artist or community leader interested in exploring and/or developing a creative project with the aim to offer care for the Asian community in New York? Do you feel you want to do something about anti-Asian hate and violence and its effects on the community, but don’t know how to get started? Your skills and talents can make a difference, and we want to hear from you.

A4 is seeking 18 participants with a range of artistic expression, social justice/social impact expertise, organizing frameworks, and lived experiences.


• A resident of New York City & primarily based in New York City during the program period
• The project must benefit communities in Chinatown, Manhattan (District 1); Flushing, Queens (District 20); and/or Sunset Park, Brooklyn (Districts 38 & 39)
• All disciplines and stages of artistic exploration/developments, activism, community organizing, educational practice, and thought leadership are welcome; No prior organizing experience required
• Demonstrate a willingness or an interest in community work and care for vulnerable populations
• Create or develop an existing or new project that centers community building, healing, reflection, and joy, and not limited to being solely reactionary to moments of crisis or protest
• The event(s) or project engagement(s) must take place within the four-month period between February 1–June 2, 2024
• Must be at least 21 years of age

Please note that preference will be given to projects that demonstrate an intention to build ongoing relationship and engagement with the community. Preference will also be given to applicants who have not previously received the award, that said, past awardees can apply.


After an eligibility screening, the A4 team will be evaluating and selecting the awardees based on the following criteria:

Community Impact: Will your proposed project have an impact, and show support, and care to AAPI communities? Do you have existing relationships or a desire to build/deepen relationships with residents of the communities on a long-term basis? Do you have an understanding of issues facing AAPI communities?

Outreach Strategy: Do you have a clear plan to conduct outreach to community members? If you plan to work with a community organization, does your outreach strategy align with the scope and contents of your project?

Project Development and Creativity: Does your project contain a clear display of innovation, imagination, and/or creativity? Will participation in the WCWD program help you realize or shape your project?

Ability to Commit and Viability: Is your project achievable given the proposed engagement dates and four-month timeline?

We strive for a balance of geography, populations served, and disciplines. These factors will also be taken into account when the applications are evaluated.

Matchmaking with Community Organizations

In the application, we ask artists to share a project idea and a community and/or community organization you would like to work with or serve through your project.

If you are selected, there is flexibility in updating the project idea and/or community if circumstances require. Any updates will need to be communicated to A4.

If you are selected, A4 is happy to facilitate an introduction to a pre-approved community-based organization in either Chinatown, Manhattan; Flushing, Queens; or Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The below organizations have already agreed to being matched with an artist for a project. Should you be interested in being matched, there is a place in the application where you can select your top three organizations. Please note that there is no guarantee that you will be matched with an organization; we will try our best. Also note, you are not required to work with a community organization.

Chinatown, Manhattan

Chatham Square Public Library – Chatham Square Library has been an integral part of the Chinatown neighborhood since its earliest days, with a circulating Chinese language collection available since 1911. It is one of the busiest branches of The New York Public Library.

University Settlement – University Settlement partners with 40,000 New Yorkers on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn every year to build on their strengths as they achieve healthy, stable, and remarkable lives. For 135 years, we’ve collaborated with our communities to pioneer highly effective programs that fight poverty and systemic inequality. Established in 1886 as the first Settlement House in the United States, we bring the values of that movement into the 21st century by meeting New Yorkers where they live, listening to their perspectives, recognizing their excellence, understanding them as complete individuals, and creating space for them to organize. Joining together with our neighbors to advocate for justice and equality, we help build community strength.

Flushing, Queens

Undo Poverty: Flushing – The group’s mission is to help move all Flushing community members out of poverty toward sustainable economic advancement using a community-informed and driven approach. The initiative is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation and is anchored by CPC and includes key collaborative partners AAFE, MinKwon, Queens Public Library, The Child Center of NY, and River Fund.

CPC Nan Shan Senior Center – The Nan Shan Senior Center in Flushing provides seniors ages 60+ with lunch, ESL classes, culture and art programs, education, health management, exercise classes as well as health and nutrition seminars and case assistance.

Red Canary Song – Red Canary Song is a grassroots massage worker coalition in the U.S. There are over 9,000 workplaces like these across the country with no political representation, or access to labor rights or collective organizing. Anti-trafficking NGO’s that claim to speak for migrants in sex trades promote increased policing and immigration control, which harms rather than helps migrant sex workers. They also organize transnationally with Asian sex workers across the diaspora in Toronto, Paris, and Hong Kong.

Glow Cultural Center – With the support of NYC City Council, the Glow Cultural Center is located at One Flushing, providing arts & culture and youth development programs and serving as a hub for community activity. They aim to serve the multi-cultural population of our community, including but not limited to the under-served new immigrant, low-income households residing in Flushing and nearby communities.

Queens Botanical Garden – Queens Botanical Garden is an urban oasis where people, plants and cultures are celebrated through inspiring gardens, innovative educational programs and demonstrations of environmental stewardship. The vision of the Queens Botanical Garden’s programming is to be a leading cultural, educational, and environmental resource that reflects the diversity of their audiences in an accessible and welcoming way, and that celebrates nature, arts, culture and the history of their community in this unique garden setting.

YWCA Queens – The YWCA of Queens was created by the Queens community, for the Queens community and, in continuation of their legacy, strives to be of the Queens community. Today, the YWCA of Queens is recognized as an influential non-profit that meets the needs of low-income individuals and immigrants in one of the most diverse cities in the world. The YWCA of Queens now serves over 5,000 families annually through its multi-generational and cross-cultural services. With their overarching goal to address the diverse needs of Queens residents, they are able to stand as a beacon in the communities we serve and offer integral services to encourage educational, economic and personal well-being.

Sunset Park, Brooklyn

RaisingHealth – Their mission is to support and sustain the well-being of underserved communities through culturally-competent health, education, and community-building programs. Through a holistic approach, RaisingHealth addresses longstanding disparities in health and social services, fills gaps in care that underserved communities face, and ensures that their local community gets the support they deserve.

CPC Brooklyn Community Center - The CPC Brooklyn Community Center, based in Sunset Park, serves seniors ages 55+ with meal services, ESL classes, culture and art programs, education, health management including mental health, exercise classes and seminars, and case assistance. They also provide immigration-related legal support, language access, and special needs services.


As part of the program, participants will:

• Carry out their event(s) or project engagement(s) anytime between February 1–June 2, 2024, providing periodical progress updates to A4;
• Write and submit a simple, one-page report of their work including 2 photographs, the community they served, its impact, and any next steps;
• Present their final project in-person or virtually at the end of the program in a public share out;
• Receive an honorarium of $1,500 per awardee; please note that awardees will receive the first half of the honorarium ($750) upon signing the agreement and the second half of the honorarium ($750) upon completion of the final report.

The program schedule is as follows:

November 14, 2023 – Application opens
November 28, 2023 – Pre-submission Information Session via Zoom (12-1pm ET)
January 7, 2024 – Deadline for all submissions (by 11:59 pm ET)
January 23, 2024 – Awardees selected and notified
February 1, 2024 – Awardees announced publicly
February 1–June 2, 2024 – Awardees carry out their projects
June 7, 2024 – Final reports due
Mid June (Date TBD) – Public Share Out (In Person)

This program is presented by the Asian American Arts Alliance (A4) and is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the Asian American Federation in partnership with the New York State Department of Health. Special thanks to Council Members Christopher Marte and Sandra Ung.

Application Instructions


Click HERE to access the online application through Jotform.

Click HERE to access a document with the above program information AND text of the application form.

Click HERE to access a recording of the Information Session.

If you have any questions about the application, or require any accomodations, please email Justine Lee at


Can past awardees apply?
Yes, past awardees can apply, however, in the selection process, we will be giving preference to applicants who have not received the award in the past.

Are artist duos/collaborators able to jointly apply for this opportunity? If so, should we submit separate applications, or just one?
Yes, artist duos/collaborators are eligible to apply. We advise that you apply with one application. While there must be one primary applicant, there are areas in the application where you can include more information about the other artist(s) involved; for example, you can upload a resume with multiple pages, include multiple links in the website section, and a headshot that includes both/all of the artists.

If the project is selected, the primary applicant will receive the funds. It is their responsibility to distribute the funds from there. Credit will be given to all artists on the public-facing materials. We had several artist duos and collectives in the past. If you scroll through past projects on our program page, you’ll see duos like “Hannah Miao with Lynn Huynh” and collectives like the “CAO Collective,” which is made up of several artists.

Is partnering with community organizations encouraged? Have most of the past grant awardees worked with community organizations?
Yes, especially because community organizations already have a built in audience. About half the awardees have worked with community organizations and it has been a great experience for them and they have continued working with those groups.

Is borough of residence strictly tied to borough of organizational impact (i.e. if based in Brooklyn, is there the possibility to engage Manhattan?)
No. As long as you’re a NYC resident, you can apply and you can work with any of the three neighborhoods.

How do panelists view applications with no existing ties to communities but have the desire to build connections?
We understand that people are interested in developing these connections. We’ll favorably look upon applicants who are looking to develop connections.

If we’re doing a public event, can it be more than a one day event, like a series?
Yes, you can do extended and multiple events, as long as they fall within the program period (Feb 1–June 2, 2024)

Is fundraising acceptable as part of the project?
As long as participants are not being charged and if the money is to benefit the community and not make a profit. We have had a couple of projects that were fundraisers, as in 100% of the funds go to an organization. The point is for artists to be engaging with community organizations.

Just to clarify - Is there a budget proposal required during application or just a budget report at the end of the cycle?
No, there is no budget proposal required. The final report will only ask how many people you’ve impacted, what you’ve learned, how you benefited, and 2 photos. The $1500 is unrestricted and can be used at your discretion.

Have there been any documentary projects done previously? Just curious about how these projects potentially worked out in terms of timeline?
No documentary film projects to date.

For past events, how many sessions were held on average per project?
In the past, with a three-month program period, awardees held about 2-3 sessions max. There is no cap though, just a minimum of 1 engagement during the program period.

Can we engage with two different organizations?
Yes, you can engage with more than one organization.

Do we have access to Material for the Arts?
Yes, A4 can provide awardees with access to Materials for the Arts.

I want the audience to be able to enjoy light refreshments and snacks. Is this something I can do with a local business as part of my event?
Yes, if the overall intent of the project is a performance that shows care for the community. However, it shouldn’t be the focus, it should be on your work as an artist engaging with the community

Community engagement beyond the timeline: how can we do this, as opposed to a one off event?
Many past grantees have used this grant as an opportunity to share a piece of work. Grantees have also continued to work with the organizations. For example, Chinatown Archive Project continues to accept photo submissions to digitize and create for people.

Does the nature of your fiscal sponsorship (i.e. individual, 501c) affect grant payment?
No. Payments will be made to the individual artists but we’ll need a Tax ID or SSN to distribute the funds.

For the community organizations focused on performance, do they have equipment in house?
A few of them do e.g. Queens Botanical Garden, and CPC Nan Shan Senior Center, and University Settlement. We encourage you to look at each org’s website for more information around A/V Tech.

Can we also partner with childcare and afterschool programs?
Yes, just work with the organizations and ensure that any participants photographed have provided consent.