8th Annual Chinatown Music Festival Kicks Off Saturday

Now in its eighth year, this year's Chinatown Music Festival will bring the festivities straight to the heart of Chinatown. Previously held in Portsmouth Square, the festival will focus on "Living Alleyways" and take place in Waverly Place. 

The move comes as part of the "Chinatown Alleyways Project," a $3.3 million initiative from the mayor's office and Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) meant to activate the neighborhood's alleyways with art, music, and cultural activities. 

The initiative also hopes to increase economic development in the neighborhood and attract visitors by showcasing "the neighborhood’s vibrancy and diversity through festivals and other cultural activities." 

“The Chinatown Music Festival is a celebration for the community,” said Mabel Tang, executive director of Chinatown Culture Center, in a statement. “The Festival brings together all of [CCC's] priorities to be a voice for equality and activating public space."

The Chinatown Alleyways project was also selected for the National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" grant and nominated for the Robert E. Gard award.

"It really tells the story of how arts can be a powerful driver of economic development," said Tang. 

At a media event last Wednesday, District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin said the CCC has played a remarkable role in "bringing civil rights and the arts together in a way that has been meaningful for the everyday residents of Chinatown and the folks outside of Chinatown.”

He noted several areas where CCC helped usher improvements to the neighborhood, including the creation of a community art space at 41 Ross Gallery and projects that enliven the area's alleyways. 

“We all need to have that conversation to make sure that fifty years from now," Peskin said, "this organization is alive and going strong.” 

Pianist and composer Jon Jang. 

This year, the festival features pianist and composer Jon Jang, who will debut his commissioned composition, "Living Alleyways."

Jang will also debut a piece titled “Walter U. Lum: Chinese Times," which celebrates the legacy of San Francisco journalist and civil rights leader Walter Uriah Lum (1882-1961). He was also the first Chinese-American to have a San Francisco street named after him: Walter U. Lum Place near Portsmouth Square. 

"[The piece] serves a powerful reminder of the 135th Anniversary of the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act," said the CCC in a statement. 

In addition to musical performances, there will be art and cultural activities over two blocks of Waverly Place as part of "Living Alleyways."

Visitors will be able to experience interactive design exhibitions, dance, Chinese opera face painting, massage, Chinese puzzles, and more.

This year, visitors will also pick up a coupon booklet highlighting local businesses and merchants on Waverly Place and nearby alleys. 

The festivities kick off on Saturday, August 12th at 11am and run until 5pm. Admission is free. 

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8th annual chinatown music festival kicks off saturday