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Authors Guild Calls on Smithsonian to Reimburse AALF Authors and Partners

Front entrance view of the red brick Smithsonian Institution Building on the National Mall with ornate gardens and statues in front

The Authors Guild sent a letter to the leadership of the Smithsonian Institution on Monday, expressing grave disappointment at the unilateral cancellation of the 2023 Asian American Literary Festival (AALF) with only one month’s notice. Many authors and small literary organizations had already incurred significant out-of-pocket expenses in reliance on the Smithsonian’s promise of reimbursement and funding support. The Guild called on the Smithsonian’s leadership to promptly release the honoraria, funding support, and reimbursement for travel-related expenses promised to the authors and partner organizations. Doing so will mitigate the financial losses and lost work opportunities that were caused by the last-minute cancellation.

The AALF was organized as a collaborative literary event between the Smithsonian and small literary organization partners. It is the only festival of its kind that celebrates Asian American voices and provides the space for collective imagination and community building. With authors and partner organizations having spent considerable resources to participate in the event, the festival’s abrupt cancellation without payment of the promised support is a serious breach of good faith and fair dealing by the Smithsonian. While the harm from this decision cannot be undone, we have asked the Smithsonian to take measures to rebuild the literary community’s trust, and to start by fulfilling the funding commitments which are listed in an attachment to the letter.

We have not yet heard back from the Smithsonian’s leadership, but we will continue to follow up and try to obtain restitution for the authors and literary organizations impacted by the decision to cancel the 2023 AALF.