Quienes Somos – ¡Aquí Estamos!
(Reprinted from the Summit Booklet)
For over one hundred years, the Latino community has been settling in the Chicago area and making this great city their home. Our natural instinct in coming to a new country has been to express proudly our individual cultural identity. Today, in an ever-changing large metropolitan city, we more than ever continue to express our cultural survival instincts. Through organized performing arts such as music and theater performances as well as visual arts and other artistic disciplines, Latinos have demonstrated resiliency in distinctively maintaining our presence in Chicago.
Early Latino populations who have acted as cultural pioneers in the arts have included Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans. The list of cultural groups has grown to include Colombians, Venezuelans, Central Americans and others. As Latinos grow in numbers and are now the second largest population in the great city of Chicago, it is befitting that we begin to draw upon our collective efforts to demonstrate to the city that Quienes Somos – ¡Aquí Estamos! (Who We Are – We Are Here!) and that our cultural survival will not go unnoticed.
Our journey to organize this conference includes four leading cultural institutions which collectively bring over 125 years of experience to the field: National Museum of Mexican Arts, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, International Latino Cultural Center and Chicago Latino Theater Alliance. Our Quienes Somos – ¡Aquí Estamos! mission is to act as a catalyst and to usher a platform aimed at setting a future agenda that highlights the importance of investing in Latino arts and culture. It will, furthermore, create tremendous opportunities for cultural dialogues and engagement. We are certain that this initiative will organically move forward to greater things that will benefit the Latino community.
We need the energy of you and your organizations to be a part of this ambitious project. We are committed to working together, each of us with our distinct identities, but Latinos all, with one voice for a culturally rich Chicago.