Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of CA Lacks Transparency

Posted on July. 11. 2020


A wonderful idea, Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California came into existence a few years ago. But to date it lacks transparency and accountability.

A few days ago, a reader wrote to USA Armenian Life stating “Something smells bad when it comes to the Armenian American Museum finances.” She also asked several valid questions such as,

“How has the money been distributed from the community donors?”

“Why is it that their finances are not transparent and no financial statement is posted anywhere for the public to review?”

“How much have they paid in management salaries for an entity that does not exist but it is only on paper?”

“Who is controlling the process?”

Concerned Armenians wonder, “Are there checks and balances on their finances? Or is it that they (the committee including the Western Diocese and the Western Prelacy) are at liberty to spend the money as they please paying atrocious salaries for a project that exists only in the clouds?”

In an effort to help the community bring clarity to the financial dealings of the proposed museum, this writer sent a media inquiry on Friday July 10 at 2:07 PM (PST) via text to the Executive Chairmanof the proposed museum Berdj Karapetian asking “if The Armenian American Museum has published any financial statements. Can you please share such a statement if available?” As of press time  at 12 midnight Friday, there was no response from Mr. Karapetian. As soon as a certified financial statement is provided this paper will gladly publish it.

Do many American Armenians wish to see the Museum succeed?

Of course!

Do American Armenians see the necessity to have safeguards in place against possible mismanagement of funds?

Absolutely. Many of them are concerned about the presence of questionable characters in decision-making positions.

“Too much is a stake for the Armenian community. We can No longer continue doing business as usual. I propose all community representatives be vetted/voted in by the community to participate in this community effort.  Each representative from various sectors of the community should serve on this newly formed board of governors. They can vote on what needs to be done for the best interest of the community.  Most important, a certified accounting firm is necessary to ensure that this project will become the jewel of our people. Right now this project is on shaky grounds with people who have shady backgrounds,” commented another concerned Armenian.

For many it’s troubling to see certain individuals in the ranks of self-appointed Board of Governors with tarnished public records. These are some of the questionable characters involved in the the Armenian American Museum:

– Arch. Hovnan Derderian of Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America who has been involved in many nefarious acts such as theft, fraud, lying-by-proxy in a U.S. Court;

– Armenian General Benevolent Union Western District — Led by Sinan Sinanian who has been involved in several nefarious acts;

– Nor Or Charitable Foundation — Linked to Tekeyan Cultural Association (TCA) that is monopolized by autocrat Edmond Azadian who has been involved in several wrongdoings such as unjustified shuttering of TCA Arshag Dikranian Armenian School in Los Angeles and selling-off the real estate assets for about $15 million dollars. To date, no one knows of the funds whereabouts.

The organization’s website states that its Board of Governors consists of “ten prominent cultural, philanthropic, and religious non-profit institutions,” including
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America
Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Catholic Eparchy
Armenian Evangelical Union of North America
Armenian Cultural Foundation
Armenian General Benevolent Union Western District

Armenian Relief Society Western USA
Armenian Missionary Association of America
Nor Or Charitable Foundation

Nor Serount Cultural Association

Among a number of additional serious concerns, are:

1)     The land is not really owned by the Museum. It’s owned by the City of Glendale. It is leased for a number of decades at $1 per year from the City of Glendale. Why would anybody want to invest over $50 million on a leased land for a non-commercial project? Why not execute a non-commercial project on a land that is purchased or fully owned by the organization itself?

2)    Why is the Armenian American Museum NOT a membership-based organization governed by a general membership? The mainstream American Armenian nonprofit organizations are membership-based. Why not the museum? The dues-paying members can ensure good governance under a shield of full accountability and transparency.

3)     The combined membership of all the museum self-appointed governing organizations consists of a meager 0.5% of the larger 1.0-1.5 million-strong California American Armenian community. That doesn’t give the member-organizations the right to boast that they represent the entire community.

While many in the community have utmost respect toward all the community-based and faith-based organizations, they are wary of several corrupt organizational leaders such Arch. Hovnan Derderian of Western Diocese, Sinan Sinanian of Armenian General Benevolent Union — AGBU and proxies of TCA autocrat Edmond Azadian in Los Angeles.

Gone are the old days of Ottoman-era ‘Millet‘ system of usurpation of community representation without due process of democratic election based on one person one vote.

Sound advice. CAUTION: As of now there is lack of accountability and transparency.

–        Armenian Museum donors and supporters are advised to hold off donating funds without certified financial statements;

–        They are also advised not to get involved in any projects that involve shady characters with less than stellar reputation such as Western Diocese’s Arch. Hovnan Derderian, AGBU’s Sinan Sinanian, TCA’s Edmond Azadian.

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