September 9, 2017

EPALF: A Funny Acronym for a Serious Festival

by Candace Kita
Cultural Work & Development Coordinator

What would it look like to dedicate a day to our stories of moving, migrating, longing, and belonging? Amid these times of endless change, APANO’s first-ever East Portland Arts & Literary Festival -- a full day creative festival on Saturday, September 23 at the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space (JAMS) -- seeks to do just that.

Organized by the Arts & Media Project (AMP) and part of our MicCheck! Cultural event series, the East Portland Arts & Literary Festival -- lovingly nicknamed “EPALF” -- is our first ever large-scale, immersive, and multidisciplinary creative event. And it is by no means a small feat: this full day will fill JAMS’ 8,000 square feet with original visual art, film, performances, workshops, and a book and craft fair, highlighting the talents of over 60 artists of color, cultural workers, and creative organizations.

While we seek to host a fun, family-friendly creative event, we are also not losing sight of why the festival is urgent and complex. EPALF responds to the creative ecology of East Portland and of our city. As the overwhelming majority of arts institutions are a 45-minute bus ride away in downtown Portland, EPALF aims to provide a creative gathering space in a place where such infrastructure is noticeably lacking. Intentionally led by and featuring artists of color, the festival also recognizes that communities of color have been denied platforms for expression in mainstream media. Part of our cultural work strategy that seeks to change the narrative about our communities, it serves as a platform to honestly, joyfully, and lovingly tell the stories of our ancestors, our parents, and ourselves. In a time where stories are critical in hearing and understanding each other, the value of this platform cannot be understated.

Finally, we cannot forget that the site itself is significant. This will be one of the last public events at JAMS before it is demolished and transformed into a permanent community center, APANO offices, and affordable housing in 2018, representing a final farewell to the community space that has served us so well over the past years. At the festival, we will also capture community members’ and attendees’ visions for what kinds of creative events and activities will invigorate the new JAMS.

We look forward to seeing you on September 23 to share your stories, to honor a beloved furniture store, and welcome a bright future -- a future that moves us from old to new, and moves our communities from longing to belonging in East Portland.

When: September 23, 11am - 6pm
Where: JAMS, 8114 SE Division St., Portland OR 97266

This event is part of MicCheck!, a summer cultural event series organized by the Arts & Media Project (AMP) at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon. MicCheck! utilizes the arts to illuminate pressing issues affecting Asians and Pacific Islanders and multiracial communities of color. Visit for the full lineup. Questions? Contact Candace Kita, Cultural Work & Development Coordinator, at