Posted on September 26, 2013
There’s no way around it: Austin’s population is surging.
The city’s Asian American community has seen some of the most significant growth over the past two decades, doubling from 3.3 percent of the population in 1990 to roughly 6.8 percent today, according to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.
The growth is largely due to Austin’s growing reputation as a destination city, said city demographer Ryan Robinson. The city’s already diverse Asian population, along with a burgeoning tech industry, have contributed to the surge, he said.
Voters approved a bond in 2006 to fund the creation of a cultural destination and resource center for Austin’s Asian and Asian American community. Now, seven years in the making, the Asian American Resource Center will officially open its doors to the public on Saturday.
“The Asian American Resource Center has been a long awaited dream for many in the community and we celebrate making that dream a reality,” said Taja Beekley, facility manager for the Asian American Resource Center. “The grand opening honors all of those individuals who have supported the creation of the center along the way.”
The 16,000-square-foot community center — funded in part by the $5 million bond package and a $100,000 federal grant — will feature a library stocked with books exploring the histories of the many countries in Asia, as well as several classrooms for discussion, a computer lab, an assembly hall and a conference room.
The cultural center will also offer an array of special activities and events, such as Asian-themed culinary classes, tai chi and yoga sessions for seniors and adults, and spring break and summer camp workshops for kids that will allow them to explore everything from Indian rangoli art to manga-inspired anime in Japan.
Housed within the Parks and Recreation Department, the Asian American Resource Center joins the Mexican American Culture Center and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center — home to a wealth of African American historical and cultural documents — as the city’s newest offering of ethnic insight and tradition.
“We are trying to bridge the gap between the community and government by providing the needed resources and services for the under-served Asian American community,” said Beekley. “We are very excited to be a part of this historical moment to inaugurate Austin’s newest cultural facility.”