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A Meeting for a Dream House: The Iranian-American Cultural Society Center of Maryland

By Ramin Takloo-Bighash

On Sunday July 1, 2007, the Iranian-American Cultural Society of Maryland (IACS) had its first public meeting for the Little Persia Project. "Little Persia" is a nickname selected by the IACS for the future IACS Center. The site of the meeting was the Louisiana Restaurant in Fell's Point, Baltimore.  The restaurant is owned by Mr. Khosro Saki, who graciously provided the main hall of the restaurant for the meeting.

A captivated audience listened to the IACS board members as they presented
their goals and visions in creating the new IACS cultural center.

The aim of this gathering was to create awareness and excitement in the Iranian-American community about the project, and also to give the IACS the opportunity to collect financial contributions from interested individuals for the project. A ceiling of $1000 was placed on contributions to encourage all present to make a contribution regardless of their financial status.

The audience included faces from industry, business, academia, and the
arts communities.

The meeting started with a presentation prepared by the IACS Board of Directors.  The presentation was based on the "Little Persia" booklet which gives the details of the project. This booklet starts with the mission statement of the project: "To establish a center that provides a venue for multicultural activities for preservation, appreciation, and reinforcement of Iranian art, music, and culture."  It further provides information about the society:  "The Iranian-American Cultural Society of Maryland ("IACS") is the oldest society of its kind in the United States ( It was founded in 1966 and subsequently registered in 1968 as a non-profit organization in the State of Maryland. Through its almost 40 year history, IACS, fully funded by contributions by its members and run completely by grass-root volunteers, has maintained its non-religious, non-political character, and its sole purpose has been the promotion of Iranian heritage and culture with emphasis on the integration of Iranian-American families in the greater American society." This booklet will be used as a source for future grant proposals that the society will prepare for various institutions. 

During the presentation, the IACS Board members, under the title of "A House of Our Own" explained the vision of the future IACS center, our house:

The IACS Center, Little Persia, will act as the headquarters of the IACS, and not only will it give its numerous activities a home, it will also give it a chance to grow and expand. Our center will be unique in that:

  1. It will provide a permanent setting for the Persian Language School for children and adults.
  2. It will provide the much needed space for seminars, movie screenings, plays, and                    musical performances.
  3. It will provide a permanent setting for other language classes that are spoken in different parts of Iran such as Azeri (Turkish), Arabic, Armenian, and Kurdish.
  4. It will provide a place for the English as Second Language School for the elders.
  5. It will provide the much needed space for the Society's monthly poetry meetings.
  6. It will provide a space for Persian music classes led by Maestro Borhani.
  7. It will provide the space for the ancient Iranian festivals of Nowruz, Sadeh, Mehregan etc.
  8. It will provide space for bi-lingual theatre workshops, art classes, music practice, etc.
  9. It will provide an ample space for multicultural parties and mixers aiming at encouraging further youth participation in the affairs of the Iranian community.
  10. It will provide a setting for creating and encouraging contact between different immigrant communities especially those whose native language is Persian  (Afghanistan, Tajikestan), those whose heritage is close to Iranian heritage and culture (Azarbaijan, India, Turkey) and others who share music and art elements (some African countries).


The new IACS Board of Directors recognized the two past IACS presidents,
Dr Mahvash Shahegh (1st from left), and Dr Majid Jahangiri (5th from the left)
for their continuous support.

The fund-raising was a complete success: almost everyone who attended the meeting made a financial contribution to the project.  The IACS was able to raise more than $20,000.  This amount was then supplemented by a contribution of $50,000 by the IACS from the past contributions of the members for this project.  


The delicious four course dinner was another highlight of the meeting!

The meeting was then continued by dinner and music. The music was kindly provided by Mr. Parham Askari of the ARSA DJ Group free of charge.

The meeting ended with a message from the society:

Building the center is a fundamental cultural necessity. We owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to our children's children.  We are convinced that this is feasible.  We believe that our community has the potential, the talent, the energy, and the means to do what it takes for the center to become a reality. We solicit your support and help with this very important project.

About the author:  Dr. Ramin Takloo-Bighash is a member of the board of directors of IACS. For more information please contact him at  Your may also visit the IACS website


... Payvand News - 7/19/07 ... --

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