Dr. Arto Vaun

Project SAVE Welcomes New Executive Director Arto Vaun


WATERTOWN — Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives announced recently that Dr. Arto Vaun will serve as its new executive director. He will be responsible for day-to-day operations, short and long term strategic planning, and helping to shape the vision for Project SAVE’s present and future.

With more than 10 years of local and international experience in the arts and education, Vaun hopes to make an immediate impact. “As a Boston native, I’ve admired the mission and work of Project SAVE’s founder, Ruth Thomasian, for years,” he commented. “It’s an organization that’s highly respected, yet often stays under the radar. I think it’s time to change that.”

Thomasian started Project SAVE in 1975 to document and preserve the vibrant social and cultural history of Armenians throughout the Americas and elsewhere. The mission is to Salute Armenians’ Valiant Existence (SAVE) by listening to people speak through their photographs and to bring the past to life for current and future generations. There are over 60,000 photographs currently housed in the archive.

“I am thrilled to have Arto at our helm. He is a perfect match for Project SAVE,” Thomasian said. “Just as Tsoleen took the reins back in 2017, to guide Project SAVE into the digital/social media age, so Arto now will move Project SAVE on to new heights so that the archives will have a durable future. Our boards of directors and advisors welcome him and look forward to working with him.”

Before joining Project Save, Vaun was assistant professor and chair of the English and Communications BA program at the American University of Armenia (AUA), where he helped grow and establish the program as one of the most competitive and popular at AUA and in Armenia. He also founded and directed the Center for Creative Writing, championing the concept of creative writing as a fine arts and academic discipline in the region. In fact, it was the first such Anglophone center in the former Soviet Union. Previously, Vaun lived and worked in Scotland, Beirut, and Berlin. As a poet and musician, he has published and performed widely as well.

Vaun is picking up the torch from former Executive Director Tsoleen Sarian, who is moving on to new endeavors. For more than six years, Sarian helped guide Project SAVE and infused it with her energy and talents.

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“My focus has been to make Project SAVE Archives more outward facing and increasing demand for our photographs and our stories. We have an active presence on social media and our searchable online collections database features thousands of photographs, making our Archive more open and accessible,” Sarian said. “I am proud that Project SAVE promotes Armenian heritage through photographs in a vibrant and exciting way. I welcome Arto’s leadership to raise awareness about our work by building collaborations and attracting new funding opportunities.”

According to Vaun, there are a number of new initiatives that Project SAVE will announce in the coming year to engage with different segments of the Armenian and non-Armenian communities both locally and beyond.

“I’m excited to build upon all the hard work that Tsoleen, Ruth and the Project SAVE team has put into this invaluable organization,” he said. “Project SAVE’s mission and photograph collection is unique and important, especially at this vital moment in regional and global Armenian history. We are dedicated to staying at the forefront of preserving the past to inform and energize the present and future.”

Various collections and further information is online at projectsave.org.

Topics: Project Save
People: Arto Vaun
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