Mass Humanities is honored to award the 2021 Mass History Commendation to the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center’s Pao Arts Center. Selected annually as part of the Mass History Conference, the award recognizes excellence by a Mass Humanities grantee. The Mass History Conference takes place virtually on Monday, June 7, with additional workshops and networking events on six other dates in June.
Pao Arts Center was established in 2017 as a visionary program collaboration between Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) and Bunker Hill Community College. It is Chinatown’s first arts and cultural center. BCNC Pao Arts Center has been the recipient of many Mass Humanities grants, including two Project Grants, a Digital Capacity Grant, and CARES Act COVID response funding. Recently, their Mass Humanities-funded “Homeward Bound” exhibit explored narratives of home, community, and intergenerational resilience, drawing upon four years of ethnographic research and interviews with the Chinese diaspora in nine countries and 13 cities. The project included online community conversations on LGBTQ+ historical figures, housing, and healing. In response to anti-Asian violence arising during the COVID-19 outbreak, Pao Arts Center created “Love Letters to Chinatown,” which will soon be available via a digital StoryMap. Their work exemplifies the idea that history is a community activity. Learn more about the Pao Art Center here.
“Our partners at BCNC’s Pao Arts Center exemplify the power of local humanities institutions to strengthen a neighborhood,” said Mass Humanities Executive Director Brian Boyles. “In project after project, they’ve created opportunities for residents to reflect on their surroundings, share their stories, and elevate the voices of Chinatown. We congratulate Pao Arts Center Director Cynthia Woo, BCNC Executive Director Ben Hires, and their colleagues on this well-deserved award.”
Mass Humanities provides major funding to the Mass History Alliance, host of the Mass History Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “History: a Massachusetts Community Activity.”