Dear Friend of the Italian Cultural Center,
Several months have passed since we celebrated Italianissimo! 2015 and we would like to share our progress towards accomplishing FICCB’s mission, as well as a preview of upcoming events.
1. We have been hard at work trying to make the Italian Cultural Center of Boston a reality. We are continuing our search for the right site, one that can accommodate the needs of modern, diverse users for programs spanning a wide range: from teaching the Italian language to public lectures, concerts and art shows; from supporting enterprise, innovation, science and technology to celebrations of the Italian heritage in food and culture; from providing services to the Italian and Italian-American communities to social events designed to build bridges connecting segments that interact too infrequently.
We are exploring building an entirely new, state-of-the art structure containing public spaces, classrooms meeting spaces, a demonstration kitchen, a screening room and other amenities. We are also exploring the redevelopment and expansion of existing structures to accomplish the ICC’s programmatic goals. And finally we are exploring co-location of the Italian Consulate General next to the ICC, with shared use of common areas, to take advantage of synergies and offer an even fuller array of programs and services to benefit the Italian and Italian-American communities at large. Every option is envisioned as the “fulcrum of all things Italian” that FICCB was born to create, a home for a wide variety of private and public programs.
We are prepared to go it alone. But we are also reaching out to other Boston-based Italian-American organizations with similar missions, some older and established, others newer and emerging. As you might know, we had been exploring the possibility of siting the ICC at a repurposed, renovated Sacred Heart Church and Rectory in the North End. After several months of feasibility study and discussions, the parish has opted for a different solution which better addresses its immediate financial needs. Other discussions are ongoing and we will keep you informed of our progress. It is only logical for FICCB to be open to the possibility of teaming up with other organizations to build something novel together. Creating an ICC for the 21st Century, however, is too powerful a strategic opportunity for FICCB to hesitate or be timid.
Boston is not an easy urban context for realizing this kind of vision, but we are optimistic. As prudent stewards of FICCB’s resources, we are using (parsimoniously) some of the funds that you all have generously contributed to FICCB to bring this vision to fruition. In order to test building design concepts, FICCB has retained a highly regarded firm, Handel Architects, to develop different options. Handel’s impressive portfolio of projects, which include the well-known 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero, can be seen at: www.handelarchitects.com/projects/type/cultural-institutional.html. The pursuit of FICCB’s mission continues to benefit also from the time and effort generously donated by the law firm of Goodwin Procter LLP.
FICCB’s vision has remained the same since day one: to create a space that will become the catalyst for leveraging the efforts of many different organizations to serve all facets of the Italian and Italian-American communities in Boston. This space, however, has to be more than a building. This space must become the tangible symbol through which the ideal of uniting people in promoting Italian culture in its broadest sense is successfully pursued. Whereas in the past many have worked separately, FICCB’s core goal is the convergence of energies, talents and passions so we can successfully do together what we all have been trying to do alone.
2. Making the physical ICC become reality will take time. The bricks-and-mortar ICC must be a beautiful and welcoming destination, the starting point for a joint effort to share and promote our rich Italian culture. An old Italian proverb goes: “it takes decades for a new olive grove to mature, we have not a second to waste”. FICCB does not have the luxury of waiting for the bricks-and-mortar foundation of the ICC to be laid to tackle our task. There are different, but equally important foundations that must be laid; they do not require architectural drawings or city permits because they rest on the talents and accomplishments of the Italian and Italian-American communities across the many disciplines that make Boston the unique city it is. Even the most impressive of buildings would be an empty shell if it did not come pre-stocked with ideas and programs, so that it springs to life as soon as the doors open. That is why it is imperative that we work in parallel on both the physical and the intellectual foundations of the ICC.
We are blessed in our city with many titans in science, academia, enterprise, art and culture, innovation, philanthropy, and community service who also happen to be proud of their Italian heritage and committed to making a contribution to moving it forward. FICCB will be reaching out to them to enlist their support and to start identifying the next generation of titans in each field. This will advance the programming aspects of FICCB even before we have a building that can give them a permanent home.
FICCB is interested in devoting a small portion of the funds raised so far for program initiatives and to recognize the contribution and ongoing work of young people in Boston and New England who show promise and deserve some support towards realizing their full potential. As you will recall, FICCB initiated the “Menino Award” honoring those Italians and Italian-Americans in public and community service whose past contributions to our city might otherwise go unrecognized. In view of the many important individual efforts in progress, we hope to also encourage young Italians and Italian-Americans who are inventing the future of our city, both in the fields of commerce and science. We are exploring the right vehicle for doing so and will reach out to you for ideas and support for both programs. Please consider this letter as the start of that effort.
3. This brings us to the topic of Italianissimo! 2016. Last year we held the fourth successful Italianissimo! gala, which augmented the funds at FICCB’s disposal and solidified the community’s support for our mission. We could feature Italianissimo! 2016 as the fifth episode of the same series, but we would much rather have it be the first episode of a new series: an occasion to profile the next phase of FICCB’s life and to build excitement for what we are creating. Italianissimo! 2016 will be more inclusive, larger and better than Italianissimo! 2015.
We want Italianissimo! 2016 to be a celebration of FICCB’s vision and a sign of fresh thrust in advancing its mission. We are planning to showcase ways to build the ICC’s intellectual foundation, as well as to honor the accomplishments of deserving Italians or Italian-Americans with the Menino (and perhaps another) award. And hopefully we will be able to share some good news on the front of building the physical ICC, though that depends on how much progress can realistically be made in the coming months on identification of the site and feasibility work. So we ask you to be patient and to keep your powder dry for Italianissimo! 2016. We hope to send you a “save-the-date” card before too long, but meanwhile please keep FICCB in your hearts and minds.
4. Finally, FICCB, a not for profit corporation, is thus far structured so as to be the starting point for the long-term success of both the initiatives we have described and new initiatives we will imagine in the future. But we all know that successful initiatives are built around committed people, not legal entities. For now, we, Anthony Pangaro and Ettore Santucci, are merely the stewards of FICCB. We were asked to take that role by the former Consul General in Boston, Giuseppe Pastorelli, whose original vision years ago still propels FICCB. We have the support of the current Consul General, Nicola De Santis. And we count on the collaboration and energy of the many of you who have rolled up your sleeves to continue to provide essential advice based on your expertise, and support at every step.
In the past we have asked for your patience as we try to roll out a great organization together. We are still in the formative stages of that effort. There is much to do and many hours to be spent. As an organization, FICCB will evolve as its mission progresses. Its Board of Directors and a variety of Working Committees will be populated over time. FICCB will be fully representative of the communities it seeks to serve, in all of their diversity, and will be fully transparent in its work. Hardening the internal workings of the organization prematurely, however, is a step many vibrant not-for-profit initiatives have come to regret later. The governance of FICCB will take shape gradually as the organization matures, making room for the contributions of: (1) those who have historically held prominent roles in the Italian and Italian-American communities in Boston; (2) sponsors who make a long-term financial commitment to supporting FICCB’s mission; and (3) up-and-coming talent who can ensure our vitality and creativity over the years.
Please visit our web site, www.ficcb.org. For now it does not have a lot of content, but we are working on creating it and we plan to use the site as the hub for keeping you informed and for promoting FICCB’s initiatives. Please click the link at the bottom “update your preferences” to register.
In closing, we know FICCB’s goals are ambitious. We can only accomplish them together. We thank you for your support, a pledge for the future. Please feel free to contact either of us (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) with ideas and questions or constructive criticism.
We look forward to being in touch soon.