Recently designated a California State cultural district, SoMa Pilipinas is raising funds to help cover the costs of staging Undiscovered SF, a monthly night market festival in the city's historic Old Mint building.
Kultivate Labs—a nonprofit business incubator led by the Filipino American Development Foundation that emerged from the SoMa Pilipinas designation—will produce the night market, planned for the third Friday of each month.
Although the group has already secured $130,000 in city grants, an additional $65,000 is needed to ensure that the event will be free of charge for all attendees. With two weeks to go, the crowdfunding campaign has raised 27% of its goal.
SoMa Pilipinas plans to purchase sound, lighting and other equipment required to produce "an experiential event worthy of SF’s creative community," said Desi Danganan, executive director of Kultivate Labs.
The night market is "part of a multi-prong strategy to build a thriving new commercial corridor in the SoMa Pilipinas district," he said.
Centered around Filipino-American food, music, and retail establishments, the program aims to protect cultural diversity in the neighborhood, which Danganan called "San Francisco's most important asset." He said that it also gives participants in the program who don't have a brick-and-mortar location a chance at success.
"Community input and participation is an important aspect of Undiscovered SF," project manager Raquel Redondiez told Hoodline. "Through the SoMa Pilipinas coalition, we are working to showcase local talents.”
Danganan said he hopes to feature both established and emerging artists from the Bay Area and beyond, but programing is not limited to Filipino-inspired talent. He noted that their list of musical acts is constantly growing.
"Our local hip-hop hero, Lyrics Born, will be opening at the first Undiscovered SF," Danganan said, "and from LA, we’re bringing singer/songwriter Low Leaf, who combines harp, guitar and piano with electronic beats this October."
The night market will also feature what Danganan called "the third wave of the Filipino food movement occurring here in the SF Bay Area."
The movement is characterized by Filipino entrepreneurs who put their own spin on traditional cuisine, like Mestiza Taqueria at 595 Bryant St. and FOB Kitchen, a weekly pop-up at The Gashed Tavern at 2351 Mission St.
There will be more than food at the night market. Participating vendors range from eco-fashion and streetwear to art and cosmetics.
"The goal is to showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of the new generation of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans," Danganan said, "as well as businesses that take inspiration from Filipino culture."
One of the biggest challenges for Danganan and the Undiscovered SF team was simply finding Filipino-owned businesses to particpate.
"They are out there, [but] some of the best Filipino(a)-businesses don’t wave the flag," he said. "What made this even more challenging is that the community doesn't have an active chamber of commerce. So through meetups, referrals, and direct outreach, we were able to find them."
So far, Danganan has confirmed participation for 47 vendors; more than half are Filipino-owned.
He also noted that the market welcomed other local participants outside of the Filipino community. "Undiscovered SF will always have a heavily Filipino foundation to its program," he said, "but we’re open to anyone becoming a vendor or performer."
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