Mencius Society for the Arts grew out of ACE Forum (The Asian Cultural Exchange, better known as “Wossing” from the nineties), a one-stop traditional learning center in the heart of Chinatown, where small interactive groups or private pairings were the hallmark of activities. Our original Wossing Center was established in 1991 on Mott Street Chinatown – then a one-room shop where four partners took turns teaching English, Spanish, Math or Cantonese, playing the erhu, or having a document translated for courtcases or other official purposes. As the organization grew and was renamed ACE Forum, we moved locations to 243 Grand Street in the hub of the newer side of Chinatown, a 3-storey tenement building that provides all manner of genuine no-frills learning, and where Mencius is now based. We have a range of offerings that include music classes in both Chinese and Western instruments, calligraphy, Chinese-style cooking, Chinese language classes as well as academic tutoring and after school and summer programs.
Mencius Society was founded in 2003 as a not-for-profit organization registered in the State of New York. The organization’s mission is inspired by the teachings of Mengzi (better known as “Mencius“ in the west), a Chinese philosopher who believed in the notion of personal cultivation and social contract. With focus on the Chinese tradition (though by no means exclusively) Mencius seeks to enhance public awareness of classical and folk cultures and to promote personal and social benefits that are derived from learning and from disciplined pursuits.
In performing arts, Mencius presents concerts, festivals and workshops under the banner of EastRiver Ensemble and EastRiver Arts Center.