May: Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, now officially proclaimed Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, takes place in May. It celebrates the culture, traditions, and history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Here in the South Sound area, the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC), located in Tacoma, will be celebrating the month in a variety of ways.

Kicking off the celebrations on May 2nd will be Korea Day and the Center’s monthly Taste of Asia event to feature Korean preparations. Both events will be held at the APCC located on South Tacoma Way. Throughout the month, the APCC will be bringing several activities to the local grade schools to ensure students are connected to their culture and educating others about the artistry, history, business protocols and social practices of this vast group of 47 nations across Asia and the South Pacific.

Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Faaluaina Pritchard of Lakewood is, as expected, passionate about the organization whose mission is to bridge community and generations through art, culture, education and business. According to Pritchard, “The organization serves as an interactive cultural crossroads between local and international communities. We are more than just art as entertainment.”

The local government and business communities also view the APCC’s mission vital as evidenced by their sponsorship and support. Notable partners include the City of Tacoma Arts Commission, the National Endowment of the Arts, Arts of Washington and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. Business partners include MultiCare, Alaska Airlines, Columbia Bank, Group Health Foundation, Pierce College and Catholic Community Services, to name a few.

The Asia Pacific Cultural Center was founded in 1996 through the vision of three generations of Americans with Asian and Pacific Island heritage.

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Asia Pacific Cultural Center


Asia Pacific Cultural Center: Finding a Home

Since 1996 the Asia Pacific Cultural Center has been working toward establishing a permanent home for itself in Tacoma. Throughout the years the APCC has been housed in several buildings in the Tacoma area, hoping the whole time for a permanent location best suited to its needs.

The APCC represents about 47 countries and educates the public about the rich cultures within each one. It hosts a number of programs and events throughout the year. On the first Saturday of each month this year, for example, the public is invited to the Taste of Asia 2017 cooking series. In September the APCC presents the Korean ChuSeok Festival. This November it will host a tour of Thailand.

In seeking a new home, the APCC has had difficulty raising adequate funding. Those who have been supporting the project since 1994 believe one of the most exciting opportunities for the project so far has come through five donated acres at Point Ruston on Commencement Bay.

According to a July 21, 2017 article in The News Tribune by reporter Jared Brown, the center would ideally feature gardens, a theater, a food area, grocery store, and housing, for a total of $94 million. Yet the land donation wouldn’t allow the APCC to construct all of these elements. Without the housing units and grocery store, the new set price would be $61 million. Those involved in the development of the center, wrote Brown, are hoping to draw a large sum of that goal from a federal program designed to attract foreign investment into job-creating projects in return for a fast-tracked visa.

Faaluaina Pritchard, APCC executive director, reports that $400,000 in cash or pledges has been raised to date. Donations are welcome on the APCC’s website: As stated there, the project’s mission is “to bridge communities and generations through arts, culture, education, and business.” Ensuring a permanent home will propel the center to carry out this mission to much of the greater Puget Sound area. by Jordan Marie Martinez