“Here to Stay: Chinatown Art Brigade” (2016) - 18 minutes

“Here to Stay: Chinatown Art Brigade” (2016) 
TRT: 18.27

Description: This video documents the formation of Chinatown Art Brigade, a new dynamic cultural collective and partnership with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities’ Chinatown Tenants Union to launch the “Here to Stay” project which uses outdoor projections and cultural production to advance organizing efforts against gentrification.

Produced by Chinatown Art Brigade/ Edited by Betty Yu


Chinatown Art Brigade organized two actions in October 2017 against James Cohan Gallery and their racist exhibit by artist Omer Fast in Chinatown (at 291 Grand Street). James Cohan symbolizes the gentrifying force that has spread throughout Chinatown. Omer Fast’s exhibition only further cements the blatant disrespect and disregard that commercial galleries have shown for our community.  In the past several years, over 130 galleries have opened in Chinatown. This exhibition reinforces racist narratives of uncleanliness, otherness and blight that have historically been projected onto Chinatown. The show trivializes and ridicules Chinatown by displaying broken ATMs, torn up chairs, linoleum floors held together by duct tape, plastic bags attached to door handles, and a dilapidated awning that serves as the entrance to a run-down Chinatown
 business . This show is a racist aggression towards the community of Chinatown that James Cohan Gallery is currently gentrifying. This show is yet another example of how  gentrifying institutions appropriate histories of violent oppression to garner cultural, monetary and artistic clout. This exhibition is a hostile act towards communities on the front lines fighting tenant harassment, cultural appropriation and erasure. This show is beyond offensive to the people who live and work in Chinatown. The artist ignores the presence of a thriving community filled with families and businesses reduces their existence to poverty porn. This has a real and negative impact on how Chinatown is perceived by non-residents, politicians and developers who view low-income communities as wastelands ripe for gentrification, real estate investment and exploitation.

These videos were shot and edited by our allies at Decolonize This Place

Chinatown Art Brigade Statement on #J20

Chinatown Art Brigade delivers a statement on role of artists and cultural workers in resisting the Trump regime, during #J20 Action (on the of the Inauguration of Donald Trump) on January 20th, 2017 at the Whitney Museum organized by Occupy Museums.  The statement was read by members Betty Yu, Liz Moy and Tomie Arai.


"Chinatown Is Not for Sale" Town Hall Meeting - October 22nd 2016

On October 22nd, Artists SpaceChinatown Art Brigade and Decolonize This Place held a town hall discussion that brought together over 215 local residents, activists, gallery owners and artists together for a candid dialogue about the growing impact of art galleries in Chinatown.

Thanks to Artists Space for filming and editing the video.


With gentrification accelerating citywide, over 100 galleries have opened in Chinatown. Approximately 60% of these have arrived in the last three years. Rents have risen to an all time high and low-income Chinatown tenants and small business owners are being pushed out. Hyper-development—in the form of luxury condos, hotels and galleries—is putting the lives and livelihoods of long-term residents at risk.

Gentrification is often the result of many overlapping social and economic factors. Yet, as evidenced in SoHo, Chelsea and, more recently, Bushwick, art galleries tend to be among the first businesses to gentrify working class or industrial districts. How, accordingly, might we speak to the complicity of art and artists within this process? Can artists be an ally in the struggle against gentrification and displacement? What, if any, are the points of unity between artists, galleries and the local community?

This discussion, the second in a series of public conversations presented by Chinatown Art Brigade following "Chinatown: New York's Newest Gallery Scene?" at Wing on Wo & Co. in July, will explore the role that artists can play in preserving, protecting and fighting for our neighborhoods. Central to the discussion will be a working document promoting ways in which artists, galleries and other cultural institutions can show their solidarity with longtime Chinatown residents.

This event was a part of Decolonize This Place, a three-month project by MTL+ that sees Artists Space Books & Talks converted into a movement space that is action-oriented around indigenous struggle, black liberation, Free Palestine, global wage workers and de-gentrification.

"Chinatown: New York's Newest Gallery Scene?" Panel - July 19th, 2016

On July 19th, Chinatown Art Brigade co-hosted, "Chinatown: New York's Newest Gallery Scene?" a panel wth with Wing On Wo & Co. WOW Project, featuring Herb Tam of Museum of Chinese in America and Michelle Maria Esteva of Chinatown Soup and moderated by Tomie Arai, & Betty Yu. artists & co-founders of the Chinatown Art Brigade? #ChinatownNot4Sale

Video shot and edited by ManSee Kong.