Thursday, May 5, 2011

Festival of Ideas for the New City is a major new collaborative initiative in New York involving scores of Downtown organizations working together to harness the power of the creative community to imagine the future city and explore ideas that will shape it.
 Keynote Address: Rem Koolhaas, May. 4
 Keynote Address: Rem Koolhaas, May. 4

Panel Discussion. From left to right: Rosanne Haggerty, Vito Acconci, Suketu Mehta, Jonathan Bowles, Jonathan R.P. ose
Madeline Gins presented a question to the panel. She is the partner of Arakawa, who passed away last year. Arakawa and Gins are known for the ground breaking book Architecture Against Death.

What follows is an exchange of e-notes between AAAC director Robert Lee and the New Museum's marketing manager, Annie Wachnicki, that promises positive result for the future.

Date: Thu, 5 May 2011 02:10:48 -0400

Subject: Re: New Ideas/Asian American Arts Centre

Dear Annie,

Thank you for replying so soon.

It is remarkable gift to have the New Museum so close to this Asian American community.  It would be wonderful if you could begin exploring possibilities that might lead to gatherings bringing the art community of Chinatown or even that of the Asian American NYC community, with those taking part in the New Museums art circle.  It may take a bit of time to nurture this, but it would be very worthwhile and an important step towards the inclusion of Asian Americans in the cultural life of this city. Perhaps after the Festival has past you'll have a moment to consider this possibility. 

I did attend the keynote talk by Rem Koolhaas tonite.  Clearly many visitors from outside of NYC have come to hear the speakers still to come.  Is some mention possible, perhaps a map can be made available showing where Chinatown is actually located, else some of these visitors may get diverted, unable to find Chinatown.

The three conferences I mentioned are sponsored by three different organizations.  One of these is AAFE. Since you are in contact with them, you might ask if they would like their conference mentioned in your website. 

Moving forward, many good things may lie ahead, things that I and AAAC have been pursuing for many years.  I would be happy to work with you on these.  Also I would like to attend several sessions of the Festival.  May I ask if complimentary tickets are possible? I certainly understand if these have already been given out. 

With Kind Regards,
Bob Lee

On Wed, May 4, 2011 at 6:26 PM, Annie Wachnicki wrote:
Dear Robert,
I apologize that the Festival of Ideas organizing team did not follow up with you following our initial invitation to participate and attend our planning meeting back in September (the invitation was sent from my email account on September 27). It’s our loss that your organization is not participating, and I’m deeply sorry if you feel the Festival was not as inclusive as we tried to make it.
I appreciate your email to me, and I hope we’ll have the opportunity to work together moving forward.

Best regards,

Annie Wachnicki
Marketing Manager
New Museum

Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 5:10 PM

Subject: Re: New Ideas/Asian American Arts Centre

Dear Annie Wachnicki,
The Festival of Ideas starts tonight, congratulations!
I wish AAAC and the local community were more involved in this major event so close to Chinatown. 

You may recall we met at the Theatre for the New City at a Community Board Arts committee meeting several months ago where you presented your plans for this event.  I mentioned there AAAC's Summer interns project of interviewing local galleries that had followed the New Museum into this neighborhood, and bringing them together socially with the local Chinatown arts activists.  It seemed a shame these two social groups were passing each other, as if in the night.  I thought then that you might incorporate such an idea into your project. 

The census recently announced how Asians are a significant portion of the population of NYC, and there are actually three conferences (see below) around this weekend in which the community is bringing together elected officials to discuss a stronger impact and participation in the civic life of our city.  My particular effort has been with the participation in the area of cultural life, especially Asian American artists, thats why we have been exhibiting such artist for twenty-five years or so and have made accessible an overview of this cultural presence at  It would have been great to use this opportunity to have a greater diversity reflecting the city's diversity involved with this event.  Surely the future depends a great deal on how this diversity and the cultural perspectives that mix and enrich us, how these will play out.

Its most unfortunate that the map in the center of your program booklet locates Chinatown in the wrong part of Lower Manhattan.  Its almost as if you dont want to think of yourself, the New Museum in Chinatown.  I'm sure you know historically Mott and Bayard Streets have been recognized as the old Chinatown and even the extended Chinatown is not where your map situates it. You might want to mention this and correct this perception for all those visitors who will be attending the New Ideas sessions. 

 I still believe there is time for you to outreach locally, to be a good neighbor and get to know the communities who are so close to you.  

With Kind Regards,
Bob Lee
Different Themes
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