VANGO awarded Cal Arts Council grant for Music Bridge project MEKONG–The Water’s Tales

Press Release

Contact:           Cathy Lam [, 1-714-330-3589]

Date:                Tuesday, May 5, 2020


Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization Network Awarded California Arts Council Artists in Communities Grant

State funds support “MEKONG—The Water’s Tales,” a project highlighting the music and life along the Mekong River, through a workshop series joining Southeast Asian diasporic communities in Northern California, exploring the crucial perspective of those who now live far away from but are still connected to and affected by their Mekong origins.

Hayward, CA – Yesterday the California Arts Council announced a grant award of $20,000.00 to Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization (VANGO) Network as part of its Artists in Communities program.

Vân-Ánh “Vanessa” Võ’s project “MEKONG—The Water’s Tales” uses the music of the Mekong as the thread between the peoples of the Greater Mekong Subregion to have a discussion about the lives who depend on the river, how their presence through history has affected the course of its path, and what that means for the future of the river and those who live upon it. This residency project will create a safe space where Bay Area Southeast Asian communities feel comfortable to explore and share in their experience through art. Additionally, she will be able to find understanding with and of these communities and to nourish the relationships between them in order to accurately and respectfully represent these cultures in this project. “MEKONG—The Water’s Tales” will engage members of these communities both in America and in the Greater Mekong Subregion to contribute to and inspire the creation of the new art works that will be part of the production itself, which is set to hold its world premiere at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in May 2021.

“We’re so excited to co-commission this project and support Vân-Ánh Võ’s efforts to bring the Southeast Asian community together through art and to present the music and traditions of these cultures in this way. And we feel so proud to be in the company of the amazing projects in California Arts Council’s Artists in Communities program,” said Thien-Nhien Luong, VANGO Network Board secretary and Design Capital Asia Co-founder and CEO.

 VANGO Network was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council of more than 1,500 grants awarded to nonprofit organizations and units of government throughout the state for their work in support of the agency’s mission to strengthen arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. The investment of nearly $30 million marks a more than $5 million increase over the previous fiscal year, and the largest in California Arts Council history.

Organizations were awarded grants across 15 different program areas addressing access, equity, and inclusion; community vibrancy; and arts learning and engagement; and directly benefiting our state’s communities, with youth, veterans, returned citizens, and California’s historically marginalized communities key among them. Successful projects aligned closely with the agency’s vision of a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Arts Council recognizes that some grantees may need to postpone, modify, or cancel their planned activities supported by CAC funds, due to state and local public health guidelines. The state arts agency is prioritizing flexibility in addressing these changes and supporting appropriate solutions for grantees.

“Creativity sits at the very heart of our identity as Californians and as a people. In this unprecedented moment, the need to understand, endure, and transcend our lived experiences through arts and culture is all the more relevant for each of us,” said Nashormeh Lindo, Chair of the California Arts Council. “The California Arts Council is proud to be able to offer more support through our grant programs than ever before, at a time when our communities’ need is perhaps greater than ever before. These grants will support immediate and lasting community impact by investing in arts businesses and cultural workers across the state.”

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VANGO Network’s mission is to lead effective collaborations and strengthen the humanitarian, cultural, and development work by delivering capacity building workshops to underserved communities. Since 2004, member organizations have collaborated on ongoing projects in health education, arts and culture, childhood education, and personal/professional development both in the USA and Vietnam.

The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Jaime Galli, Larry Baza, Lilia Gonzales Chavez, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Stanlee Gatti, Donn K. Harris, Alex Israel, Consuelo Montoya, and Jonathan Moscone. Learn more at

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