As a part of its Mehrgan 2010 Grant Cycle, PARSA Community Foundation awards grants to two strategic and long-term initiatives spearheaded by London-based Iran Heritage Foundation (IHF).

IHF was founded sixteen years ago as a non-political UK charity and has organized diverse activities of cultural or scholarly merit on a world-wide basis. IHF’s mission is promoting and preserving the history, languages, and cultures of Iran and the Persian world, from ancient to contemporary.

IHF programs include academic research, publishing and fellowships with institutional partners including top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, and Exeter and museums such as the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution.

PARSA CF has awarded a $490,000 grant towards IHF’s Institutional Partnership Programme (IPP) for supporting partnerships both inside the UK and outside, with an expanding focus on universities and museums in the United States. IHF IPP provides support to teaching positions, fellowships, and curators within centers and organizations focusing on Iranian Studies and the art of Iran. In order to maximize the impact of the work done at each institution, IHF IPP also supports collaboration between institutions and facilitates multi-disciplinary programs.

The IHF IPP grant coincides with the launch of IHF America, a 501(c)3 public charity organization which will act as a central hub for the coordination of IHF’s institutional partnerships with American universities and museums. In addition to the IPP, IHF America will also be providing oversight for 14 other PARSA CF grants made to US universities and museums. The newly formed IHF America will leverage the experience and connections gained through sixteen years of strategic cultural programs by IHF in the UK, and will apply them to deliver the same level of quality and strategic thinking to new programs planned for the US.

IHF America will work with American universities and museums to execute major multi-disciplinary events consisting of exhibitions, workshops, lecture series, and conferences. The partnerships enable major universities and key cultural centers to invest in and bring about step changes in commitment to Iranian studies at their respective institutions.

“PARSA Community Foundation has played a crucial role in galvanizing the Iranian diaspora in the United States and worldwide. Noosheen Hashemi, PARSA’s founder, is an inspirational leader.  She and her PARSA partners are visionaries whom we in the United Kingdom have grown to admire, respect and learn from. The launch of IHF America in 2011 owes much to Noosheen’s encouragement and invaluable support.” said the Chairman of Iran Heritage Foundation.

IHF will match the PARSA Institutional Partnership Program grant dollar-for-dollar to ensure the sustainability of the program and strengthen the delivery of Iranian Studies programs on a worldwide basis through its partner universities.

The second grant consists of contributing $195,000 towards IHF’s Digitization Project, which is a strategic effort to preserve major and historical Persian manuscripts and audio programs in digital format and to make them freely and publicly available via the Internet. The IHF Golha Project is the first in a series of such efforts, aiming to create a free, online searchable database containing the complete archive of all 1,616 Golha radio programs produced between 1956 and 1979 in Iran (watch the video). The program was started in 2007, and the content is being developed. The PARSA CF grant will fund the final stage of this project over the next 12 months, in order to make the content freely available to the public.

The PARSA CF Digitization Grant also covers the first year of a new IHF program to digitize Persian manuscripts at the British Library. The British Library’s holdings include over 11,000 manuscripts originating from all over the Persian-speaking world, ranging in time from the 12th century onwards. Many are copies of rare texts, and the art of the books include some of the most famous miniature paintings of the Persian and Mogul schools.

The program will enable scholars and researchers to identify other public and private collections to be added to this rare collection online. IHF will also match the PARSA Digitization grant dollar-for-dollar to ensure the sustainability of the program and provide the public with worldwide, free online access to Iran’s cultural heritage.