Chicago Latino Theater Alliance drive-in event supports artists during COVID-19 pandemic

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the arts world continues to deal with hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, some organizations like Chicago Latino Theater Alliance are looking to help ease some struggles.

The event held by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance was a sold-out celebration of Latino culture.

"Destinos al Aire, which means 'in the air or outside.' We decided to do an event at the Chitown Drive-In in Pilsen. Not just theater but it was live music, dance and theater, and we ended it with a film from the Latino film festival," said Christine Perez, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance.

The celebration was a major pivot and a re-imagining of the popular Chicago Latino Film Festival aimed at supporting the struggling local arts scene.

"We decided everyone is hurting in the arts," Perez added. "It's not just theater, musicians, all these performing arts venues are closed, so we wanted to bring everyone together. And Latinos love their arts, and they love live performance."

For the artists, who often have full-time jobs, the pandemic has been a disaster.

"A lot of the artists work in hospitality. So you work in a restaurant, restaurants are closed. You work in a hotel, hotels have cut back on their staffing. So yeah, they're hurting all the way around," Perez said.

Groups like the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance are combining resources and thinking outside the box.

"You see this a lot in Latin America, where they use streets, and they bring arts to the communities. And that's what we wanted to do," Perez said.

Perez believes such events will continue during the pandemic when asked about possibly seeing more communities coming together to support artists financially.

"Definitely, right now we don't even know when the venues are going to open. They're talking, at first, it was maybe three months, six months, and now we're looking at 12 months out. So we're looking at next year for possible venues, and there's no way people can survive having no income for an entire year," Perez said. "I think the one thing that's warmed my heart is how much compassion there has been, how much the community has rallied together to help people who have been suffering."

As the pandemic continues, they're all hoping for better days.

"I know the theaters right now are working at limited capacities, and so we really need people to be able to come out in person and continue to support these artists,' Perez said.

For more information about Destinos al Aire or the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, visit the group's website.
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