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18th Annual Gala and Dinner

  • Japanese Friendship Garden 2215 Pan American Road East San Diego, CA, 92101 United States (map)

Recognizing the tradition of excellence in serving one’s community, the Japanese Friendship Garden annually honors select community members for the NIWA Award for Outstanding Community Leadership. Join us for an evening of food, performances, and the celebration of these organizations as San Diego's cultural leaders!

NIWA Award honorees

Brazilian Institute for Arts and Culture

Established in 1999, BIAC is a 501(c) (3) that has two central components: Capoeira Mandinga, San Diego, an academy for the Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, and related arts; and the Brazilian Day project.  Its educational programs for the arts have served thousands of students of all ages, economic, and cultural backgrounds, in San Diego, Las Vegas, Guam, and Mexicali.  Brazilian Day San Diego Street Fair and Parade, established in 2008, showcases the vibrant arts and culture of Brazil to the masses.

Casa del Túnel: Art Center

Casa del Túnel: Art Center is the new home for Culture Beat Mexico and WorldBeat Cultural Center San Diego. The center offers a space for binational collaborations between local and international artists, organizations, schools and community leaders. It aims to empower and celebrate communities though history, culture, music, art and sustainability. 

Council of Philippine American Organizations (COPAO)

COPAO is a venerable Filipino American organization that has served the community for over 40 years and continues to serve as a voice and advocate of our community.  COPAO’s mission is: To enhance the social, educational economic, and civic empowerment of the community through collaboration of organizations and individuals. In San Diego County, there are close to 200,000 Filipinos. We are committed to collaborative efforts that will leverage our visibility and viability as an organization for our community.


San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society

The San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society was established in 1957 as one of the first sister cities on the west coast. The Society has sponsored numerous exchanges in the field of arts, business, culture, and education between the City of San Diego and the City of Yokohama, Japan.

One of the most successful programs has been our student exchange program. Upon returning home, many students became leaders in education, government, and industry. Over the years 2003 and 2004, both nations will cerebrate the 150th anniversary of our joint relationship.

Center for Jewish Culture

The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture (CJC) is housed at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, and is the largest local institution solely dedicated to exploring the Jewish experience through the arts. 

The mission of the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture is to offer an array of entertaining and enriching cultural, educational and artistic programming which brings the community together to connect with Jewish heritage, identity, experiences and values. CJC is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for San Diego's entire community.

Master of Ceremonies

Macapugay headshot .jpg

Kirin Macapugay

Kirin Macapugay serves on the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Kirin served as Commissioner for the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as an appointee of Governor Brown and Chairwoman of the Cultural Arts Commission for the City of Chula Vista. She has held several advisory and board roles for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the National Asian Pacific Women's Forum San Diego, the San Diego Leadership Alliance, and San Diego Gas and Electric. Kirin has been featured by the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Filipino Press, the Asian Journal, the National Association of Social Workers, and the book, Impower You, by Leah Oviedo. She holds a Master of Social Work and Nonprofit Administration degree from San Diego State University, where she lectures part time. She is full time Deputy Director of Partners for Progress, a network of organizations and labor unions dedicated to ensuring the most vulnerable populations in San Diego have a voice in policy and civic affairs. Kirin founded Asian Pacific Islander Community Actions (APICA) to strengthen projects including the Paradise Hills Arts Project and is part of Made in Paradise Hills, a collective of artists and entrepreneurs honoring the neighborhood she grew up in. In January of 2017, Kirin was honored as a “Present Day Civil Rights Woman Leader” by RISE San Diego, the first event of its kind in the county.

Special thanks to our Sponsors


From 5 South:
Exit B St.,
Left onto B St.,
Right on Park Blvd.,
Left on President’s Way.
first left into the parking lot.

From 5 North:
Exit 10th St.,
Left on A St.,
Left on Park Blvd.,
Left on President’s Way,
first left into the parking lot.

From 15/163 North:
Exit Park Blvd.,
Left onto Park Blvd.,
Left on President’s Way,
first left into the parking lot.

From Park Blvd. & University Ave.:
South on Park Blvd.,
Right on President’s Way,
first left into the parking lot.

Tram Service

Please park at the Federal Lot on President’s Way. There, you will find our complimentary Tram Pick Up & Drop Off location. If you are unable to park in the Federal Lot, click here to find more information on Balboa Park's complimentary tram service.

Photos From Previous Years

Check out some photos of our Annual Gala from the past couple of years!

Earlier Event: August 14
Taiko Summer Camp
Later Event: August 28
Youth Taiko Team Registration