Board of Directors
c/o Asian Improv aRts
Retired Banking Executive
Advisory Board for Traditional Practices
Adjunct Board of Directors
Born in Japan into an artisan family, Tatsu Aoki began studies in the traditional Japanese performing arts at age 3. Upon arriving in the US in 1977, Aoki has become a leading advocate for Chicago’s Asian American community and one of Chicago’s most in-demand musicians on both contrabass, taiko (Japanese drums) and shamisen (Japanese lute). As founder and Executive Director of AIRMW, Aoki has initiated and managed several programs to advance the understanding of Asian American culture and community through the arts, including the Annual Chicago Asian American Jazz Festival and the JASC Tsukasa Taiko Legacy arts residency project. His work as an artist and educator in the cultural arts and as a leader in the Asian American community address as well as define the issues facing the community, including the need for quality artistic programs that reflect the Asian American experience.
Aoki is an acknowledged authority in a wide range of fields, lecturing on the role of the arts in building community, working with the State of Illinois as an authority on issues of cultural competency, and performing traditional Asian music, jazz and new/experimental music. A graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with BA and MFA degrees, he is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Art Institute and has taught courses in Asian American Arts Practices at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.