1978 Great Leap was founded by Artistic Director, Nobuko Miyamoto, and became a leading cultural voice for Asian Americans nationally, with the band WARRIORS OF THE RAINBOW and original musicals such as CHOP SUEY and TALK STORY I & II.
1992 In response to the Los Angeles Uprising of 1992, Great Leap expanded its mission to become a multicultural arts organization, sparking a popular new theater piece, A SLICE OF RICE, FRIJOLES, AND GREENS, with Asian, Latino and African American artists sharing the stage. It toured colleges and developed into a show that reached over 50,000 youths yearly in schools through the Los Angeles Music Center on Tour Program. To this day this show continues to entertain and inform audiences with the artful telling of personal stories that leap cultural boundaries.
2000 To create bridges between diverse communities, the TO ALL RELATIONS residencies used creative story-sharing techniques and developed performance works engaging community members. With a mix of Mexican, Jewish and Japanese Americans we created MEMORIES OF BOYLE HEIGHTS; Detroit’s urban gardeners were celebrated in I DREAM A GARDEN; and after 9/11, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Jews came together to create SACRED MOON SONGS.
2005 COLLABORATORY was designed to share Great Leap’s rich legacy of creative practices with the next generation of artists. Each 8-week artist mentorship program culminates in a collaborative performance exploring various themes including, identity, immigration and the environment. We have done nine cycles of COLLABORATORY working with over 55 artists. In 2008 we mentored artists of different faiths to create LEAPS OF FAITH, which was presented in 2009 at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. It was there that indigenous peoples from around the world sent us home with a directive: “Do something about the environment.”
2010 By the summer of 2010 Great Leap released our first environmental music video, BYO CHOPSTIX on YouTube. Its success sparked a series called ECO-VIDS, which now include MOTTAINAI and CYCLES OF CHANGE, with each video suggesting small changes that can make a big difference to the environment. At the same time our ECO-ARTS INNITIATIVE continues to engage communities on the local level through residencies, workshops and performances. For example, MOTTAINAI was accompanied by public participation dance that engaged 10,000 people in Southern California in 2011, and more in 2012. Our aim is educating, activating and creating a voice for people of color in the environmental conversation.