Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Chicago's Latino Nonprofit Arts Leaders & Foundations Meet for 1st Chicago Latino Arts & Culture Summit

Leaders of 22 local Latino arts organizations gathered for a full morning of keynotes, panels and breakout sessions.

Chicago's Latino Nonprofit Arts Leaders & Foundations Meet for  1st Chicago Latino Arts & Culture Summit

"One-third of Chicago is Latino. Does your funding portfolio reflect that? If not, why not?"

That was one of many pointed questions that sparked frank dialogue between leaders of Chicago's Latino nonprofit arts groups and their counterparts at some of the city's most influential foundations at Quienes Somos - ¡Aqui Estamos! (Who We Are - We Are Here!), the Chicago Latino Arts and Culture Summit, held Monday, May 16 at 21c Museum Hotel Chicago.

Leaders of 22 local Latino arts organizations gathered for a full morning of keynotes, panels and breakout sessions. In the afternoon, top decision-makers from some of the city's most influential foundations arrived for an in-person meeting with their newly emboldened Latino arts leader counterparts around one key topic - boosting equity in arts funding.
"One goal is for Latino groups, representing many different identities and art forms, to come together and speak as one voice in order to get the support and recognition you deserve," said event sponsor Michael Angell, Co-Founder and Director, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, to set the tone for a full day of conversation, community building and action. The Angell Foundation conceived and sponsored Monday's first-ever Chicago Arts and Culture Summit with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, the International Latino Cultural Center, the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance.
i??In his opening remarks, Carlos Hernández Falcón, Executive Director and Founder, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, admitted "I used to shy away from feel-good conferences. But my hope today is that we can find new ways to act upon the growing numbers and many contributions of Chicago's Latino community. Before, we were portrayed as a marginalized community. That is no longer true. We need to change the narrative. We all deserve to be in a better place to strengthen our organizations financially."
i??Carlos Tortolero, President and Founder, National Museum of Mexican Art, agreed. "We've heard 'this is the time for Latinos' so many times, and then the money goes to the white organizations. If we continue to let this happen, it's our fault now. We are not a minority anymore. We have to stop being afraid, because we're not getting our fair share. We need to demand our share of power and resources."
Breakout sessions revolved around topics including Racism and the Latino Community, moderated by Tortolero, Fundraising and Technical Support, moderated by Hernandez, and Advocacy and Media Presence, moderated by Myrna Salazar, Executive Director, the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance.

i??"Our group agreed Latino arts organizations have always had to work hard to control our narratives," reported Salazar, "but we'd like to find new ways to elevate our art and make sure we are being represented in the media. The large media outlets in Chicago, specifically Spanish language, neither has an arts or entertainment reporter any longer. That's a problem. That's a problem that needs to be addressed."

Wendy Mateo, Co-Artistic Director, Teatro Vista, was met with a chorus of snapping fingers when she noted, "We have to work double to get a fraction of what predominantly white institutions have historically received. We are often forced to partner with these institutions because it raises our visibility or gives us the credit we need. But what happens when we partner? The larger institutions mine us for their new audiences. They don't give us an equitable portion of the box office. They apply for our grants. They think the credit is enough. Funders, please stop redirecting funds that should go to marginalized artists through predominantly white institutions. We don't need the credit, we need the funds."

The afternoon plenary, including funders, started with The Growing Latino Population in Chicago, with new data shared by Dr. Teresa Córdova, conference moderator and Director of the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Funders also were shown a short video demonstrating the depth, diversity and key contributions of all of Chicago's participating Latino arts organizations, followed by a recap of key takeaways and next steps from the morning sessions.

i??For more information, visit

Related Articles View More Chicago Stories

More Hot Stories For You