WHAT IS CHINESE ARTS NOW?
Chinese Arts Now (CAN) commissions, produces and presents high-quality art that reflects diasporic voices in modern times. Since becoming NPO in 2018, CAN has hosted three CAN Festivals which are the first arts festival across London dedicated to showcasing contemporary Chinese performing arts with performances at venues such as Southbank Centre, Shoreditch Town Hall, LSO St Luke’s, King’s Place, BFI, Rich Mix, Soho Theatre. CAN Festivals presents over 50 British East Asian artists each year from 2019 to 2021. CAN Productions have toured around the UK and internationally and CAN continues to pioneer innovative digital works.
Our vision is for CAN to produce and present to the public, work that explores Chinese themes, stories and art forms, and work that blends Chinese and other contemporary art forms. We aim to be the UK’s leading organisation showcasing this work, to educate, and to foster cultural understanding and appreciation of the UK’s diversity to audiences across the country.
Our mission is to engage with, and also reflect, the notion of Chinese diasporic cultures in modern times and pioneer multi-disciplinary arts forms from a wide spectrum of East and Southeast Asian voices as well as educate and foster cultural understanding and appreciation of the UK’s diversity to audiences across the country.
CAN was founded in 2005 as a not-for-profit arts organisation (formerly Chinese/Chinatown Arts Space) to develop, commission and present to the public work exploring contemporary Chinese perspectives and art forms, and work that blends Chinese and other contemporary art forms. In 2018, CAN became a National Portfolio Organisation supported by Arts Council England.
CAN has built an extensive network of partner organisations interested in presenting this work including Southbank Centre, Rich Mix, Soho Theatre, Artsadmin, LSO St Luke’s, BFI, Camden People’s Theatre, Young Vic, Tamasha, Yellow Earth, Dance Umbrella, The Place, PRS Foundation, Asia House, Chopsticks Club and many more. CAN also has a close relationship with regional companies such as Pagoda Arts and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Arts in North West England.
In 2019, CAN launched a new annual festival, CAN Festival, the first arts festival across London dedicated to showcasing to the public performing arts that explore contemporary Chinese themes, perspectives and art forms. CAN Festival 2019 showcased a diverse range of art forms (music, drama, live art, dance, films, digital arts) with over 60 events across London including CAN productions Bats and Beats, Citizens of Nowhere? and Lao Can Impression.
Citizens of Nowhere? later transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019 as part of Performance Infinity’s FeastFest. CAN also had its first international tour, taking Bats and Beats to Shanghai as part of the International Ping Pong Festival 2019.
CAN Festival returned in February 2020 with 16 productions across music, drama, spoken word, visual arts, dance and comedy. These included CAN productions Coalesce, Overheard and CAN’s first augmented reality app, Augmented Chinatown 2.0 which is permanently available for download.
Throughout 2020 Chinese Arts Now commissioned six digital works in response to the pandemic. The first five, by artists Pamela Carter, Jasmin Kent Rodgman, Eelyn Lee, Seph Li and Naomi Sumner Chan, were available via the CAN website. The sixth commission, a film by Tobi Poster-Su, premiered during the festival.
In 2021, with Covid restrictions making a live festival impossible, ten weeks of events were presented online from February-April plus the Queering Now season in June. Ten weeks of new art, performance, music and comedy from artists of the Chinese diaspora were presented digitally.
At the heart of the CAN Festival 2021, CAN x TWO TEMPLE PLACE was an ambitious new production, co-produced with Two Temple Place and conceived and led by CAN’s artistic director An-Ting Chang. Originally planned as a live exhibition, CAN x TWO TEMPLE PLACE evolved into a unique arts encounter creating a 3D gallery and using gaming technology to create live online performances of Every dollar is a soldier/With money you’re a dragon plus workshops, talks, tours and opportunities to engage with the artists. This programme was chosen for the Horizon Showcase for 2021 and has won Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Award – Storytelling.
The final project of 2021 was Home X, a live digital performance mixing theatre, music, gaming and VR technology. Home X was commissioned by the British Council Hong Kong for the Spark Festival 2021. For more information visit the Home X website.
Most recently CAN has been joined by three new Associate Artistic Directors, Ling Tan, Daniel York Loh and Si Rawlinson.
CAN’s next Festival will be in 2023
CEO & Artistic Director
Associate Artistic Director
Associate Artistic Director
Sue Lancashire & Martha Oakes / Martha Oakes PR
CHINESE ARTS NOW BOARD
Lai Lai Wong