From the Director
On behalf of the entire Markaz family of staff, board members, volunteers, interns, advisory board members and cultural ambassadors—welcome! "The Markaz" of course, means "the center" in Arabic and Hebrew, but also in Persian, Turkish and Urdu. For us The Markaz is a hub and safe space for diverse communities to gather, listen, learn and share our arts and humanity. It is a center where we hope friendships will blossom and ideas can flourish. The Markaz is a place where you can share your personal experiences and stories, participating for example in our oral history workshop series, "What's Your Story?" led by playwright Henry Ong.
In this era of increasing extremism, the new center is a place where we will continue to champion arts, cultural freedom and human rights—for whether we face violence in the Middle East or racism in Europe and the United States, we are all diminished when pluralism itself is imperiled. I believe that Moroccan director Nabil Ayouch has it right when he insists that, "cultural and community centers are as vital as schools and temples of worship." Indeed, a center like The Markaz exists to promote cultural literacy and interfaith cooperation.
Here in Southern California, we have always needed a cultural arts center for the greater Middle East that celebrates our history and achievements, fights anti-Arab/Muslim fear and discrimination with positive outreach, and raises the level of public discourse about what it means to be Middle Eastern. The Markaz intends to be that center. We invite you to support our work by attending The Markaz's diverse programs, volunteering your time, and contributing financially in a way that's personally meaningful to you.