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Title:International Society records
Dates:1978-2002 (bulk 1984-1998)
Call Number:M128

Historical Note

The International Society originally grew out of the Chinese Economic Development Council in 1979. CEDC's mission was to improve the socio-economic conditions of Boston's Chinese community, and was based in the city's Chinatown. The International Society's original goal was to support Chinese culture and heritage among Boston's Chinese community, as well as to promote the city's understanding of that culture. In 1982, the mission of the society shifted to promoting racial harmony through showcasing Chinese culture to non-Chinese people. In 2000, the focus was again shifted to promoting understanding of cultural differences through multicultural arts programming. The society is a nonprofit funded by a combination of grants and donations, and operates out of a space let to it rent-free by the New England Medical Center. Dr. Doris Chu has been its president from its beginning. The International Society has gone through a number of name changes. It began as the Center for Chinese Art and Culture in 1979, and was changed the next year to the China Institute. In 1981, the name was changed again to the Chinese Culture Institute. In 2000, to reflect the organization's new focus, the name was changed to the International Society. The society has produced festivals, lectures, workshops for children, and a summer camp. It has also organized musical and dance performances, art shows of works by Chinese and Chinese-American artists, and screenings of Chinese films. During the 1980s and 1990s, it held fundraisers for several young Chinatown musicians, and sponsored a trip abroad for pianist Tian Ying. Yo-Yo Ma briefly worked with the group, giving several fundraising concerts and dinners. The society also briefly had its own music and dance group, the Chinese Culture Institute's Music and Dance Ensemble, in the 1980s. During the 1990s, the institute worked with the Asia on Stage Repertory Theatre (which was a separate entity also run by Dr. Chu, that operated out of the same space) to promote Chinese plays. In addition to organizing events, the society maintains its own art gallery, and its own theatre, the Tremont Theatre. The gallery was initially known as the China Showcase Gallery; after the mid-80s, it was variously known as the CCI Gallery, the Tremont Gallery, and the International Society Gallery. The organization has published several books on local Chinese art and culture, as well as numerous exhibition catalogs.
1978Chinese Economic Development Council announces its plan to create the Center for Chinese Art and Culture.
1979Organization forms.
198?Creates short-lived Chinese Culture Institute's Music and Dance Ensemble.
1980Name changes to the China Institute.
1981Name changes to Chinese Culture Institute (CCI).
1986Gov. Michael Dukakis proclaims February Chinese Culture Month; gives copy of proclamation to CCI.
1989Yo-Yo Ma becomes involved with the group briefly, giving benefits and concerts.
1991Receives first grant from National Endowment for the Arts.
1995Dr. Chu creates Asia on Stage, a separate entity operating out of the same space. Asia on Stage and CCI co-produce several plays in the new the Tremont Theatre, located in the same building.
2000Name changes to International Society. Focus shifts to creating multicultural exchange, instead of promoting Chinese culture.

"A Brief History of the Chinese Culture Institute," The Bulletin of the Chinese Culture Institute, Winter 1983.