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One America - Great Leap, Inc.

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One America

Program: Great Leap, Inc., Santa Monica, CA
Contact(s): Jennifer Kuida, Arts Administrator: (310) 264-6696
Purpose: To use the performing arts to express the Asian American multicultural experience

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Great Leap is a nonprofit Asian American performing arts organization that has been dedicated to the principal of deepening understanding and promoting harmony between the diverse cultural groups of America. Artistic Director Nobuko Miyamoto founded Great Leap in 1978 with inspiration from the songs of "A Grain of Sand," a 1973 album that arose from social movements of Asian Americans in the late 1960s and is now part of the Smithsonian Collection. The mission of Great Leap is to create and present works that give expression to the Asian American and multicultural experience through music, theater, dance and workshops.

Program Operations

Working with artists from various Asian backgrounds, Great Leap produces works that tell the stories of the contemporary Asian American experience. These works focus on breaking down stereotypes of Asian Americans and increasing awareness of Asian American culture. The first major work was the musical "Chop Suey," then "Talk Story I and II." The advent of the one-person show inspired Great Leap to produce A Slice of Rice, a collection of stories that explore the particularities, quirks and unusual outlooks that grow out of being Asian in America, and allow talented Asian American performers/creators to present their own stories. Great Leap's newest production, "A Slice of Rice, Frijoles and Greens," is a mix of stories that give vivid insights into the Asian, Latino and African American experience. Using theater, music and dance, three artists from the company's collection of performers use their own personal tales to educate people about Asian American culture. Great Leap performances are always followed by question-and-answer sessions that encourage dialogue between the performers and audience. Great Leap also holds workshops in areas from mask making to storytelling, and conducts a month-long summer arts program for students, teaching them yoga, African drum and dance, taiko drumming and silk-screening workshops.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

In the past 20 years, Great Leap has performed at over 400 venues nationwide. Great Leap is presented in public schools, reaching over 10,000 children each year. It has been endorsed by the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission and has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and the Santa Monica Community Arts program. Numerous corporate donors have also supported Great Leap, including AT and T, McDonalds, ARCO Foundation, KCBS, KNBC and Sony Pictures.

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