Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Asia Pacific Cultural Center expands reach

For the first time in its 16-year history, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) has an entire facility to call its own in what was formerly known as the South Park Community Center. During a grand opening ceremony May 24, Executive Director Faaluaina Pritchard spoke of the roster of community and cultural activities, services and events the facility will sponsor, along with the increase in educational opportunities the move will provide.

“This building will allow people in the community to feel a sense of ownership in the services we provide,” Pritchard said.

The organization seeks to educate the public about 47 Asian and Pacific Islands countries, along with their unique languages, cultures, arts, crafts and customs.

“The response we’ve seen from the public has been wonderful so far,” Pritchard said. “People say it feels like home.”

Inside the facility, pieces of art and traditional décor from Asia Pacific countries add a unique, authentic flair to the space.

The grand opening celebration included remarks by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who has long been a supporter of Asia Pacific communities. He spoke of the diversity and education the APCC and its programs provide for the community.

“The APCC does a phenomenal job, and this is an exciting dream come true for all of us,” Owen said, touting the mentorship opportunities the organization provides for local residents.

The organization is leasing the facility from Metro Parks for the next six years, using it as a temporary space until, if all goes as planned, it moves into a $118 million permanent complex in the Brewery District. In the meantime, the current facility will host a variety of events ranging from Japanese tea ceremonies and Pacific Islander dance performances to Japanese paper-folding workshops and story times. The space will also be available to the public for event rental space. “Renters already love this option, because when we host events, we service them in an authentic, cultural way,” Pritchard said. “This is not a typical rental space.”

Local businesses take advantage of APCC services as well, particularly the educational opportunities available through the organization.

“We have many businesses calling us to learn more about the culture and different ways of dealing with people,” Pritchard said. “It’s important to understand why people are the way they are.”

Pritchard is especially looking forward to expanding these services to reach even more people.

“We’ve had such great support from the community, and this partnership with Metro Parks would not have happened if it were not for the trust and belief that we have been doing great work for the past 16 years and will do even more in the future,” Pritchard said. “This is an example of that trust and belief of what we truly stand for and can be in the future.”