Saturday, February 06, 2010

[2011] Lao American Art Programs: Minnesota

The thing about life as a writer is the need to plan things out a year or two ahead in advance to find the right funding for it. In 2010 we're going to see some great programs coming into Minnesota, including the first national Lao Writer's Summit and the Refugee Nation: Legacies of War Exhibit, as well as the premiere of the new children's book Mali Under the Night Sky and the Lao Women's Dance Program.

There are certainly the classic festivals in April and June as well as the July Dragon Festival and the 2011 Asian Pacific Islander Spoken Word Summit in August, but what are some essential projects to take on to develop?

It would be a long way off to develop a Midwest Lao Traditional Arts and Dance Camp (2012 at the earliest) but I think it would be exceptional to see a program that would allow dance troupes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa to come together to train and practice. Ideally, it would be great to have the other troupes from outside of the Midwest come in as well, but the expense and logistics would be tremendously prohibitive at the moment.

A quarterly or monthly Lao writers series is possible. I'd love to see a monthly Lao writers/artists workshop emerge, particularly for young and emerging Lao writers in the community.

Right now, we have interest groups who have a significant curiosity about photography and video, and this is understandable. Given the great resources we have for independent film-makers in Minnesota, perhaps we should work to increase access for the community.

A public access show on Lao or Southeast Asian American writing and art could also be interesting. One part of me wonders thinks websites such as youtube may soon supplant public broadcast stations, and perhaps we need to be developing work with this in mind.

The development of a Lao American newspaper or a publishing company remain possibilities. At the moment, it's hard enough for conventional publishers to make any money, that one may wonder if we should bother. I think a conference to explore the possibilities could be in order, however.

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