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Asia Institute – Crane House included in inaugural Southern Cultural Treasures program

The Asia Institute -- Crane House in Louisville.
via Facebook
The Asia Institute -- Crane House in Louisville.

The Asia Institute – Crane House has been named as part of the inaugural Southern Cultural Treasures program.

The initiative from Atlanta-based South Arts in collaboration with the Ford Foundation. 

“Our hope is that this initiative, with the help of these organizations, will foster a more equitable art community throughout the Southeastern region,” Susie Surkamer, South Arts’ president said in a release.

The new program is an extension of the Ford Foundation’s America’s Cultural Treasures program. It aims to support BIPOC-led arts and cultural organizations in the South over the next three years. Asia Institute – Crane House will receive up to $300,000 in unrestricted grants along with professional development opportunities.

"We are thrilled to partner with South Arts and honor these seventeen cultural institutions and their contributions to the regional landscape,” the Ford Foundation’s Lane Harwell said. "We hope this investment will inspire more funders and patrons to support the diversity of arts organizations and expressions in the American South.”


Leaders at the Asia Institute – Crane House plan to use their grant funds to uplift other Asian organizations in the city.

“One thing I would like to do is reserve some of the money set aside that we can actually invest in a lot of the local wonderful Asian social organizations and groups,” executive director Joel Buno said. “I’ve noticed that a little bit of support from us goes a long way with those organizations.”

The Asia Institute – Crane House is the only Asian-focused organization chosen in cohort, according to Buno. It is also the only Kentucky-based organization.

In his work at the institute, Buno has made his goal to bring in Louisville organizations instead of going outside the city.

“I don’t need to go to Cincinnati or to Nashville or Indianapolis to hire a Chinese dance troupe. We have one that is organically grown here,” he said.

He hopes that by showcasing the Asian culture that already exists in Louisville, non-Asian community members will have a better understanding of the wide breadth of Asian culture.

“There are a lot of citizens who see us as a monolith. They think we speak the language, that we’re all from the same place, which couldn’t be further from the truth,” Buno said.

Clarification: This story has been updated with information about the grant money the Asia Institute -- Crane House will receive.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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