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Leaders have high hopes for Chinatown revitalization with new arts center

San Francisco Chinatown community leaders and city officials celebrated the opening of a new media arts and cultural center at the busy intersection of Grant and Clay streets.

Edge on the Square at 800 Grant St. will host art exhibitions, installations and media presentations as part of larger plan to resuscitate the Chinatown neighborhood. The Chinatown Media Arts Collaborative, which formed in April 2020, is in charge of the new site.

Mabel Teng, the interim executive director for CMAC and a former city supervisor, spoke Thursday at a celebration of the new space:

“Edge on the Square is going to be a contemporary hub. A new icon and a new destination for Chinatown and for the city. We are a strong voice for immigrants, a strong voice for a new narrative. We want to spark conversation in this very safe place on matters that are important to us.”

Jerold Chinn/SFBay A sign in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, April 28, 2022, advertises Chinatown’s first contemporary art festival.

CMAC will host its inaugural event Saturday with Chinatown’s first contemporary art festival. Curator Candace Huey said “Neon Was Never Brighter: A Glimpse Into the Future” will feature 28 Asian and Pacific Islander artists and their works across Chinatown.

Huey told SFBay that artists work in an array of different mediums, including video production, fashion and interactive sculptures and installations.

She said:

“It’s really important right now to galvanize together and harness the power of art and culture to revitalize the Bay Area and our communities.”

Assemblymember Phil Ting, who chairs the Budget Committee, secured $26.5 million in the state budget to fund the arts center, including CMAC’s purchase of the Grant Street building. 

Ting, who joined Thursday’s celebration, said the site is far more than just a building, adding:

“It’s meant to be a place where we can gather, where we can observe art and culture, but also so that we can bring our community together. Not just our Chinese community or API community. I’m talking about our San Francisco community.”

Neon Was Never Brighter will take place Saturday from 3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. More information about the event can be found at https://www.neonwasneverbrighter.org/.

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