Title: Executive / Artistic Director
Company: Asian Improv aRts Midwest
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Tatsu Aoki, Artistic Director at Asian Improv aRts Midwest, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Artists for dedication, achievements, and leadership in the field of performing arts.
Renowned throughout the world as a talented multi-instrumentalist in traditional Japanese music, as well as a peerless educator and artist, Mr. Aoki has garnered a laudable reputation as the executive and artistic director of Asian Improv aRts Midwest, an Asian American performing arts organization. In this capacity, he is responsible for all aspects of administration, including fundraising and curating events. As one of Chicago’s premier cultural arts organizations, Asian Improv aRts Midwest benefits richly from various state and federal grants, as well as the generosity of philanthropic donations. Occupying the liminal space between Asian culture and American society, the organization offers a rich selection of programs, including the Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and the Japanese American Service Committee’s Tsukasa Taiko Legacy arts residency program.
Originally born in Tokyo, Mr. Aoki immigrated to the United States in 1977 to pursue his research in experimental filmmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he earned a Master of Arts in 1985. Today, he remains affiliated with the university as an adjunct professor of film production and art history. Among his personal works, Mr. Aoki has produced more than 30 films, and has released more than 50 albums of his own music, which frequently feature such instruments as the double bass, shamisen and the taiko, as well as collaborations with other well-known musicians.
To commemorate his manifold accomplishments, Mr. Aoki has been presented with numerous accolades. Among them, he was recognized as the Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune in 2001, and received a Milestone Award from the Asian American Institute in 2007, a Cultural Achievement Award from the Japan American Society of Chicago in 2010, a Jazz Heroes Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2015, the Best Experimental Film Award for “Light” by the Canada International Film Festival in 2017 and a Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association in 2018, to name only a few. In accounting for his standout success, Mr. Aoki credits his ability to shine a light on the artistic prowess of Asian Americans, which would otherwise go ignored by society. Looking toward the future, he hopes to establish a permanent location where Asian Improv aRts Midwest can perform on a full-time basis.
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