Chinese Arts Now(CAN) today unveils an exciting new name and bold new visual identity:
– ‘one of us’ in the Hokkien dialect, evoking kinship and affinity – widely used amongst East and Southeast Asian diasporic groups, is the company’s new name.
The rebranding marks a watershed moment for the award-winning arts organisation as it grows the ambition, scale, and reach of its in-house productions and platforming of East and Southeast Asian artists. Next year, Kakilang will stage three live productions including an ambitious project with the Barbican, London to be announced shortly. Further partnerships forged with major cultural venues in 2023 also include co-commissions with The Place, Leicester Curve, York Theatre Royal, Cambridge Junction as well as Oxford Contemporary Music. The organisation’s multi-artform festival, now renamed Kakilang Festival, will open in February with an exciting programme of theatre, family events, visual arts, dance, music, technology and queer cabaret.
Today’s announcement also follows on from the recent appointment of three Associate Artistic Directors Si Rawlinson, Ling Tan and Daniel York Loh, who joined forces with existing Artistic Director An-Ting Chang in November last year as part of a major restructure placing artists at the very core of the company’s organisational thinking.
The new website domain will be changed this month to www.kakilang.org.uk
Artistic Director, pianist, composer and theatre director An-Ting Chang explains: “It’s very exciting to rebrand Chinese Arts Now to Kakilang, a wordrooted and embraced by the diaspora, with a particular expression that doesn’t exist in English. Our organisation today is a combination of many cultures and identities and the best thing is: this word broadens the people we want to include. Who is our Kakilang? That was the key question when we came up with this name. Our Kakilang is those who come together through art, and who champion diverse voices and communities. There are so many stories we want to tell from our communities. And we want more people to be our Kakilang, joining us through all forms of live arts.”
Associate Artistic Director, designer and artist Ling Tan says: “Kakilang is a term I hear often in Singapore, where I grew up. When someone calls you Kakilang, it’s a term of endearment. Hearing someone say that here in the UK evokes warmth and a sense of home, and a feeling that I have a friend who can relate to my experience.
“For me Kakilang is an aspiration for our organisation, a term that I hope can encourage and welcome more people into our community. To aspire to build a connection between all of us that is not just based on where we come from, but what we are interested to explore and make together through art. “
Associate Artistic Director, choreographer and theatremaker,Si Rawlinson adds: “Like many people who are mixed-race, I sometimes struggle with a sense of belonging. For me Kakilang expresses the feeling of connection that we find through art, and the sense that belonging can mean many things.For me, like many people who are mixed-race, I sometimes struggle with a sense of belonging. For me Kakilang means finding yourself on the inside and the centre of a bigger story, extending out from the Chinese diaspora, to East and Southeast Asian voices, and the greater context of the places we choose to live.”
While Associate Artistic Director, writer, performer and filmmaker Daniel York Loh adds: “Everything about me is diverse. My ancestral roots are somewhere in the South of what we call ‘China’ but migrated further South to what was Singapura in Southeast Asia and then to Birmingham, England where it intermingled in Hampshire with White British/Irish heritage. Inside me dwells both the colonised and the coloniser. I was never really a ‘Chinese actor’ or an ‘ESEA writer’. Was I even ‘East’ or ‘Southeast Asian’? And did I belong anywhere? This is why I love ‘Kakilang’: Kinship… an aching for Home. ‘Our People’ and ‘On Our Side’.”
The rebranded organisation was founded in 2005 and became a National Portfolio Organisation supported by Arts Council England in 2018. To date it has presented three annual festivals, produced eight new productions, and 13 new commissions. In 2021 the Company won the Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Award (Storytelling) for its pioneering collaboration with exhibition and cultural space TWO TEMPLE PLACE, involving a 3D arts encounter incorporating gaming technology showcased as part of its annual Festival. The first Festival launched in 2019 and presented a diverse range of art forms (music, drama, live art, dance, films, digital arts) with over 60 events across London and is now a biennial fixture in the arts calendar taking place across ten weeks in February.
To find out more about Chinese Arts Now, visit here…