Asian Arts Initiative

“The word of mouth was impossible to ignore….”

Located in the heart of Philadelphia’s vibrant Chinatown neighborhood, the Asian Arts Initiative is a multi-disciplinary and community-based arts center that advances racial equity and understanding, activating artists, youth, and their communities through creative practice and dialogue grounded in the diverse Asian-American experience. Founded in 1993 in response to concerns about growing racial tension between African-American and Asian-American communities, the organization’s work today remains rooted in this initial concern. Programming is centered around building community and gaining greater cross-cultural understanding through the arts. Exhibitions, performances and community projects provide an inclusive gathering place for conversation and exchange of ideas and partnerships with the immediate neighborhood. A multi-tenant arts facility serves as a resource for the broader cultural community, with individual artist studios, organizational and program spaces for workshops and meetings, gallery and exhibition areas, and a black-box-style theater.

When Anne Ishii, Executive Director, came to the organization from another city she was introduced to colleagues in Philadelphia’s cultural universe. “YPTC was everywhere,” she says. “They hosted financial development workshops and there was tremendous amount of word of mouth from other arts organizations who were raving about YPTC. The word of mouth was impossible to ignore.”

The Asian Arts Initiative had purchased a new building in 2008 and Ishii needed some assistance in understanding the transaction’s complexities and implications. “YPTC’s people helped me to understand everything in basic language. There was a reassurance that what we thought were huge snafus were actually not a big deal at all.

“I really appreciate YPTC’s ability to use language that makes sense to everybody, from our most sophisticated finance managers to our entry-level people. They inform and empower us without making us feel intimidated,” she says. “YPTC is crucial in helping me to understand nonprofit bookkeeping in simple language. It’s good when you can come out of a budget meeting feeling more calm than when you went in!”

Ishii praises YPTC regularly and enjoys the fact that YPTC’s organizational culture is forthright and that YPTC never tries to increase additional billable hours on them. “I appreciate being empowered about the accounting and for it to be demystified. I can’t say enough good things about them,” she adds.

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