The South Asian Womxn’s Creative Collective (SAWCC) held its first meeting in March of 1997 at the offices of the Sister Fund in Manhattan. Fourteen South Asian womxn of diverse ages and sexualities attended that meeting, invited through word of mouth and meetings at various grassroots spaces, particularly Sakhi for South Asian Women and the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association.
Soon after, womxn began to gather for monthly meetings at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop to facilitate and present their work. At that time, there were no other (feminist or otherwise) South Asian arts-based organizations in New York, making SAWCC an eclectic and unique space of support and community.
Our first public event was a festival for womxn of color at the Audre Lorde Project in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This was followed by SAWCC’s first annual festival of visual art and performance, Karmakollage, to an audience of over 400 diverse, enthusiastic supporters. Within a year and a half, a volunteer board emerged, and SAWCC applied for nonprofit status and became incorporated. In 2000, we set up a listserv for South Asian womxn artists and creative professionals, an online forum that continues to serve as a space to connect.
As SAWCC grew, we presented more ambitious public events such as visual arts exhibitions, performances, film screenings, talks, and literary festivals; while continuing to make space for more intimate, communities within the community to form, such as a writing workshop and a studio circle. These programs have given visibility to emerging and established womxn artists, writers, and academics, connecting industry professionals to womxn who would otherwise not have access to these resources.
After a robust series of 20th anniversary programs in 2017, SAWCC took take a hiatus from programming to strategically reassess and evaluate how we could best serve our community. During that period, SAWCC recruited new board members and established our priorities to include re-focusing on community-building and ensuring inclusivity of outsider narratives.
With a renewed vision, we aim to present programming that increases representation, supports South Asian creatives, and fosters a safe and inclusive community. Meanwhile, SAWCC remains a unique and trusted forum for South Asian feminist artists to connect through creative practice.