The following core values were developed by the full Board and staff through a series of large and small group discussions beginning at the organizational retreat; and serve as guiding principles for our entire organization’s leadership. They simultaneously affirm and inform our interpretation of the mission and vision statements, and have been applied in strategic ways throughout the various sections of this plan.
Cultural expression and representation as a basic human right: We believe that “cultural rights” should be acknowledged as part of the broader spectrum of human rights. We believe that no one person or group owns culture; rather, culture is collaborative and dynamic. Everyone has the right to participate in creating culture through expressive forms, and also the right to see their experiences and histories represented in the arts and media of our time. The Initiative will continue its commitment to creating access for people in the Asian American community to fully exercise their cultural rights.
Everyone is an artist: We work to enable our constituents to realize at a personal level that everyone is an artist, and we encourage them to claim the power of artmaking to express their stories and experiences in the larger public realm. This means we are committed to supporting a spectrum of people, including individuals pursuing careers as professional artists as well as others with all levels of artistic experience and aspiration.
Arts and social change: We believe that works of art produced and presented in a community context can be a powerful engine for social change because they question present conditions and offer alternative visions for our shared future. Imagining change is the first step to creating it; community arts are thus a crucial resource—and repository—of this collective imagining.
Critical thinking: We believe that the capacity for critical thinking is central to sustaining a vision of collaboration and community. Critical thinking to us includes the ability to question social assumptions; analyze situations of conflict with an awareness of history; and propose and evaluate solutions for change. We strive to promote critical thinking and dialogue through the structure of our programs and throughout our staff and volunteer base.
Culture as a contemporary experience: We believe in a definition of “culture” that is not monolithic or static, but that is the richness of identities that informs each person’s lived experience. We see the heritage of cultural traditions and artforms from Asia as an important element of Asian American culture along with other shared and unique experiences had by each person in our community.
Collaborative decision-making: We believe in and enact collaborative decision-making both internally within our organization, and also in our joint projects with community partners. Active listening and informed decision-making guides our process of collaboration and our style of community leadership.
Leadership development: We are committed to investing in and developing leadership both among constituents in our programs and within our staff and volunteer bases. We view leadership as holistic, and we create opportunities for both youth and adults to develop artistic, technical, community building, and advocacy skills.
Respect: We respect the diversity of opinions, experiences, and histories of our community. We work to ensure that all of our programmatic and organizational activities are grounded in this respect for diversity, and also expect individual artists, participants, and staff to exhibit respect to each other in interpersonal interactions within the organization.
Quality and innovation: We are committed to standards of excellence in both our programs and our management practices. Because there are few existing models for organizational development that fit closely with our values, we are continually creating new ways of thinking about our programs, our staff, and our social impact.