Festival Accès Asie is a Montréal-based arts festival that promotes Asian arts, cultures and histories through a diversity of artistic disciplines including the visual arts, dance, theatre, video, film, music, comedy, poetry, literature, performance, new media and culinary arts. Its activity is happening in May, which is Asian Heritage Month in Canada.
Established in 1995, Festival Accès Asie is Canada’s longest continuously running Asian heritage arts festival. To date, it has presented works of over 900 artists of Asian origin from more than 20 different countries including East Asia (Japan, China, Korea); Southeast Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore); South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka); Central & Middle Eastern Asia (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Armenia).
The Festival presents events that feature artists of Asian origin and artists whose work is inspired by Asian arts, cultures and histories. The Festival also offers cultural mediation activities, conferences and training workshops as part of its recently launched educational component.
In addition, the festival deploys its mission at different scales (provincial, national and international) through special projects that allows it to expand its activities beyond the month of May and build relationships between Asian communities across the world.
This year, Festival Accès Asie celebrates its 26th anniversary edition, marking a milestone as Canada’s longest continuously running Asian heritage month festival.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director, Khosro Berahmandi and General Manager, Karine Kerr-Gillespie, Festival Accès Asie is a non profit organization run by a small staff of employees and interns, a Board of Directors composed of artists and members of the Asian community as well as an Honorary Advisory Committee. In addition to federal and provincial funding organizations, the Festival benefits from the generous support of partners, collaborators and sponsors. Festival Accès Asie is a bilingual organization.
This year, Festival Accès Asie will celebrate its 26th anniversary, marking a milestone as the oldest uninterrupted Asian Heritage Month festival in Canada.
Festival Accès Asie was co-founded in 1995 by Bernard Nguyen and Janet Lumb to respond to the growing demand for a stronger Asian presence in the arts and cultural climate of Quebec.
It was initially named the Montreal Asian Heritage Festival to coincide with the nation-wide celebration of Asian Heritage Month in Canada in May. The founding members were comprised of Asian artists, community activists and entrepreneurs who shared the common goals of wanting to counter stereotypes and barriers to mainstream culture by raising awareness of Asian arts, cultures and histories.
In its infancy, the festival was purely volunteer-based, fuelled by passion, friendship, hard work and dedication to the arts and community. The founding members met in living rooms, cafés and all-you-can-eat buffets in Chinatown to organize the festival, often to the chimes of laughter and lively discussion.
In 2002, the festival welcomed its first official office at Gesù — Centre de créativité, where it still holds its present headquarters. The scope of the festival grew with time. Today, the festival still runs on the principles of passion, friendship, hard work and dedication to the arts and community.
Festival Accès Asie wishes to acknowledge the many individuals who founded, supported and helped lay the foundations that built the festival into what it is today. Special thanks go to the following individuals who made it possible:
Avy Anthy Loftus
Salman M. Hussain
Jim Wong Chu