Thank you for visiting this page and exploring the complicated issues surrounding the protest. This unfortunate situation is a result of a combination of many nuanced and competing issues including a long history of local community disenfranchisement and varying strategies for achieving social justice. Please note we are not trying to speak for or represent the protestors. This page aims to provide clarity and transparency while acknowledging the matters at hand.
Before we proceed, it’s essential to clarify the term “AANHPI.” AANHPI stands for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander—a diverse group of people with a wide range of backgrounds. Throughout this FAQ, we will refer to this community, recognizing the significance of their contributions.
This FAQ will not be able to address all your questions, but we hope to answer some of them. We encourage everyone to do their own research and ask questions. The museum is always open to making improvements in its communication and welcomes your feedback
What is the connection to Jonathan Chu?
Jonathan Chu has been a longtime board member of the museum and was the landlord of Jing Fong Restaurant at 20 Elizabeth Street. The museum has neither intimate knowledge of nor dictates how board members operate their businesses.
Does the museum have control over the city borough-based jail initiative?
To answer this question, there are a few issues we would like to highlight.
- No, it does not. The museum has no control over where city hall decides the location of new jails or has influence over criminal justice reforms. We understand the borough-based jail system, an initiative to address mass incarceration is meant to be a more humane approach to incarceration.
- As part of the closing of Rikers, the city launched the Borough-Based Jail System. This borough-based jail system was launched to address the troubled Rikers and its planned closure.
- We also understand there has been a historic displacement of the Chinatown community when government builds new infrastructure without much consultation with the local community. We see these two issues as separate, have their own merit, and should not be conflated.
Does the museum represent or speak for the whole of Chinatown or the Chinese American diaspora?
We do not. This museum does not or can be the sole representative of such a diverse group of people. The Chinese diaspora is a large tent with a wide range of segments and subsegments of groupings of people. As a museum, our job is to record, document, and preserve the existence of, and derive and interpret meaning from materials and artifacts as well as its past and living culture. MOCA is not the sole arbiter of this diaspora’s desires, hopes, and dreams nor does it dictate what and how its physical community should be shaped.
When did MOCA first apply for capital funding from the city?
The board of directors at the museum initiated the conversation with the city about a permanent home at the end of the Bloomberg administration and voted on developing a formal strategy to acquire city capital funding during this period. The first application started during the Bloomberg administration and has been reapplied annually ever since.
Why does the museum need capital funding from the city?
Many cultural institutions require public-private partnerships to succeed. Federal, state, and city funding is common for many nonprofits. The museum, former and current board members have dreamed of a permanent home for the museum for decades now. This dream is shared by many in the AANHPI arts and cultural community. If successful, this permanent home will create one of the largest arts and cultural institutions dedicated to the AANHPI community.
What is this capital funding for specifically?
This is capital funding from the city. The funds go directly to the owner of the building as part of the purchase and do not pass through the museum in any way. The funding has been delayed for the last four years and is projected to close on the purchase of the building in the fall of 2023.
Where did the Museum get the capital funding?
The final funding allocation was part of the MOU outlined between the City and the City Council in 2019. The designation is restricted to capital funding as part of the purchase of the building at 215 Centre Street. Funds go directly to the owner of the building as part of the transaction. The museum was not involved in the decision-making process of the selection of recipients or final allocation of funds.
Was there an agreement between the City and the museum on the Borough-Based Jail System in exchange for this funding?
No, there was not, written or otherwise.
Is MOCA the only institution that received funding from this pot of funds?
No, it was not. Please see the MOU for a breakdown of the organizations by borough that range from education, sanitation to restorative justice, and arts and culture.
Can the museum redirect these capital funds?
No, it cannot. Spending is at the discretion of the City.
What does funding for the purchase of the building mean?
This funding will enable a permanent home, one of a few for a national AANHPI arts and cultural organization, that includes a performing arts space that can be used by the community at large as per MOU funding statement between the City and City Council.