What does that tell you?
Even as cultural organizations around the country contract because of the economic downturn, Asia Society is pushing against the tide with two new multimillion-dollar buildings, one of which opens in Hong Kong next week, the other in Houston this spring.
The buildings are part of a philosophical as well as physical expansion for the society, a nonprofit institution founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III to educate the public about Asia and perhaps best known for the elegance of its headquarters and galleries on Park Avenue at 70th Street.
Long regarded as a New York institution with regional branches, Asia Society over the last few years has aimed to recast itself as an international organization, partly through the construction of the two major centers in cities where it previously had only offices.
The new buildings — each of which cost about $50 million — will catapult the annual operating costs of each location to $4.5 million from about $700,000, but Asia Society says it is confident about the investment.
“By the year 2050, more than 50 percent of the world’s gross domestic product will come from India and China,” said Vishakha N. Desai, president of the society, in a recent interview at her office. More than 60 percent of the population will live in Asia then, she said.
Because the world has changed, so has Asia Society’s mission. Where once the organization was focused on explaining Asia to Americans, now it emphasizes strengthening partnerships in areas like culture, business, public policy and education, not only between Asians and Americans but among Asians themselves.
Uh huh, that’s right!
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