Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Dialogue with Los Angeles Armenian Community

25 jan 2024

The Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has embarked on a two-day conversation with the Los Angeles Armenian community. It will take place on the weekend of February 2 and 3, at Hero House in Glendale.

Dr. Razmik Panossian, Director of the Armenian Department at Gulbenkian since 2013, will present the Foundation’s projects, strategies and goals, and engage in dialogue with various scholars and specialists.

On Friday 2 February, from 7 to 8.30 pm, a visual presentation will precede a conversation where Dr. Panossian will highlight some of the activities of the Department during the past decade and present future directions. This short presentation will be followed by an hour-long discussion about Gulbenkian’s work, in conversation with Salpi Ghazarian of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies and Dr. Houri Berberian, Meghrouni Family Presidential Chair in Armenian Studies and Director of the Armenian Studies programme at UC Irvine. Questions and comments from the audience will be welcomed.

On Saturday 3 February, from 11.30 am to 4.30 pm, a sequence of three bilingual panels will explore (a) the changing world of Armenian philanthropy, (b) the challenges facing the Armenian language, education and culture in the Diaspora, and (c) the importance of critical thinking, especially in Armenia, and in Diaspora institutions.

The Gulbenkian Foundation’s engagement in Armenian communities around the world continues even as it looks to work more closely in Los Angeles, always within the sphere of its strategic directions. These directions are examined and adopted every five years, taking into consideration changing global and Armenian challenges.

The USC Institute of Armenian Studies has partnered with Gulbenkian in the organisation of these events.  “This is not the first time that we’ve collaborated with Gulbenkian. Our perspectives and approaches are similar, and we welcome the opportunity to broaden the Armenian conversation,” said Salpi Ghazarian, who, together with Institute Director Dr. Shushan Karapetian will participate in the panels. The various panelists also include, among others, Professor Donald Miller of USC, Dr. Hagop Gulludjian and Dr. Shant Shekherdimian of UCLA, as well as Shogher Margossian from the Gulbenkian Foundation.

Everyone is invited to participate in this rare conversation between programme designers and funders on the one hand, and the community the programmes are meant to benefit on the other. What challenges Armenian organizations are currently facing and will face in the future? How can we actually reinforce language and culture in a diasporan setting? Do we want to? Are institutions and their programmes useful, appropriate and impactful, or repetitious, outdated, not focused? How are decisions made and programmes evaluated? Is decision-making and fundraising changing? Should it, and if so, how?

“The Gulbenkian Foundation journey supporting Armenian communities started in the Middle East, where it is still present. It has also steadily shifted westwards, bringing us to Los Angeles. We need to learn from the Los Angeles community, and we would like to contribute to it, especially in the domains of culture, education, and language. This two-day dialogue is essential for us to develop appropriate programming that is relevant to this ever-more-important Armenian hub that is very different from those that have come before,” says Dr. Panossian.

For more information please write to [email protected].

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