Presenting our “Stories of Arts Resilience”

Presenting our “Stories of Arts Resilience”

Stories of Arts Resilience:

Oral Histories of arts and museum professionals during the time of COVID-19.

Generously funded by Illinois Humanities

We at the Alliance are delighted to celebrate the release of the Stories of Arts Resilience project!

Thanks to generous support from Illinois Humanities through their Community Resilience Grant, the Stories of Arts Resilience (SOAR) project was created as a response to the shared struggles and spirit of perseverance throughout the arts and culture industry during this unprecedented moment in history. The Alliance worked with our Members to collect oral histories of their efforts during this crisis.

This project granted us the opportunity  to work with new tools and materials generated by our friends at StoryCorps Chicago, and to engage our Members in order to create an oral history archive that collects, documents, and shares museum and arts professionals’ first-hand responses to the COVID-19 crisis. 

All of the oral histories collected are now forever archived in the Story Corps Archive and in the Library of Congress!

Meet our participants.

Surinder Martignetti and Zachary Whittenburg

Surinder Martignetti (45) and her friend and colleague, Zachary Whittenburg (40), talk about where they grew up, places they’ve lived, their dance education, and their work today for Chicago arts organizations during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Jason Matsumoto and Mary Doi

Mary Doi (67) interviews her friend Jason Matsumoto (37) about Japanese Taiko drumming and his film career. He talks about how he has adapted the ensemble in 2020 to COVID-19 and to pay tribute to Black Lives Matter by performing for inmates outside the Cook County jail.

Lisa Doi and Mary Doi

Mary Doi [no age given] interviews her daughter Lisa Doi (29) about her work as an organizer at Tsuru for Solidarity advocating for the Japanese American community, the history of the paper crane, the evolution of folk art in the Japanese diaspora, the rise of hate crimes in Asian American communities during the pandemic, and the value of the arts as a tool for social awareness and change.

Anthony Hirschel and Amita Banerji

Amita Banerji (65) speaks to her colleague Anthony “Tony” Hirschel (63) about how the pandemic has transformed the arts, the digital expansion of audiences for the National Indo-American Museum (NIAM), the importance of creating and maintaining strong connections with community members and businesses, and the economic challenges for nonprofit organizations.

Eva Nye and Karin Abercrombie

Karin Moen Abercrombie (62) interviews her colleague Eva Nye (49) about her immigration journey from Sweden, navigating breast cancer and family life during the pandemic, and her work as an educator, artist and member of the Chicago Art Girls.

Soo Lon Moy and Ben Lau

Soo Lon Moy (70) speaks with her friend and colleague Ben Lau (62) about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, their lives, and the Chinese community in Chicago.

Tatsuyuki Aoki and Michael Takada

Michael Takata (64) has a conversation with friend and colleague Tatsuyuki “Tatsu” Aoki (62) about how the performing arts have adjusted to their audiences during the pandemic, lessons from the younger generation, and the importance of recognizing the legacy of the performing arts in the city.

Mary Doi and Cori Nakamura Lin

Mary Doi (67) interviews new friend Cori Nakamura Lin (28) about Cori’s work as an artist and community activist.

Nathan Ellstrand and Emiliano Aguilar

Friends and fellow PhD candidates, Nathan Ellstrand (33) and Emiliano Aguilar (28), talk about their interest in history, what they love about their fields of study, their research, and how their lives and their work has been impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cairo Dye and Henry Godinez

Cairo Dye (23) interviews her former professor Henry Godinez (62) about teaching theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sara Chapman and Chelsey Thomas

Sara Chapman (38) has a conversation with her colleague Chelsey Thomas (24) about her work at Media Burn Archive, her experience learning from the community of filmmakers and audiences in Russia, how connectivity with global networks has changed during the pandemic, and their vision of film.

Our #GivingTuesday Roundtable is officially LIVE!

Our #GivingTuesday Roundtable is officially LIVE!

Our Giving Tuesday Roundtable is now LIVE! Featuring 

Moderated by WBEZ’s Steve Bynum!

Check out the video above to watch our members discuss the hardships cultural heritage centers have faced in this challenging year and how they are working to keep their organization afloat. 

Don’t forget we need your help as we raise $5,000 to get us towards our goal of $50,000. All donations help fund our unique cross-cultural collaborations such as this Roundtable, and capacity building programs like our Activating Heritage Conference. Giving Tuesday is the year’s biggest donation celebration, and it starts right now! 

Rather listen? Check us out on SpotifyStitcher or anywhere you get your podcasts!

The Chicago Cultural Alliance’s Board of Directors pledged to match dollar for dollar donations up to $5,000 until Giving Tuesday on December 1st. Your gift makes double the impact when you support the Chicago Cultural Alliance today.

Former Cultural Champion Janet Carl Smith – Cultural Connections Ep. 3

Former Cultural Champion Janet Carl Smith – Cultural Connections Ep. 3

“I wanted to be in the places, where I would be the one who could speak up and say  ‘Have you thought about the arts? ‘ “

Janet Carl Smith is an ardent supporter of the Chicago Cultural Alliance, recipient of the Alliance’s Cultural Champion Award in 2014, and has been an ally for the arts and culture community in Chicago for many years. You can learn about how she used her positions over the years to advocate for the arts in the spaces that not everyone can access and why you should do the same!

Check out this episode of Cultural Connections featuring Janet Carl Smith and as always, Chicago Cultural Alliance executive director Peter Vega on our YouTube Channel or listen wherever you get your podcasts.

The Chicago Cultural Alliance’s Board of Directors pledged to match dollar for dollar donations up to $5,000 until Giving Tuesday on December 1st. Your gift of makes double the impact when you support the Chicago Cultural Alliance today.

#Giving Tuesday Member Roundtable

#Giving Tuesday Member Roundtable

Don’t miss the Alliance’s #GivingTuesday Roundtable

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 at 12 pm on YouTube


On December 1, 2020, people all around the world are coming together to tap into the power of human connection and strengthen communities and change our world. Will you be one of them?

The Chicago Cultural Alliance will be participating in #GivingTuesday by hosting a Member Storytelling Roundtable. We want to give Members the opportunity to tell you about the struggles they have had this year and how the Alliance has helped them. The Roundtable will premiere on our YouTube Channel and an extended audio – only version will premiere as a part of the Cultural Connections Podcast on all podcast streaming platforms.

By joining us for this event, you’re proving that in times of uncertainty, generosity can bring the whole world together.

Here is how you can participate:

1. Mark your calendar by RSVPing to this event here.

2. Give. On December 1, go to and donate. You can also support our organization in other ways by visiting our Support Page.

3. Spread the word. Encourage your friends and family to join you in creating real impact on December 1 by sharing what our mission means to you and why you support our organization. Make sure to use hashtag #GivingTuesday and tag us so we can share!

Let’s rally together to create a more inclusive Chicago.

Cultural Connections Episode 2 w/ Soo Lon Moy!

Cultural Connections Episode 2 w/ Soo Lon Moy!

During the COVID-19 pandemic, racism towards the Asian American Community  has only increased. Now more than ever, it is crucial that we come together to stand up against social injustices such as this and show our support for these communities. 

Learn more about the history of the Chinese American Museum of Chicago through our interview with Soo Lon Moy, this year’s Outstanding Community Leader

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we must acknowledge the direct impact on Chicago’s over 40 cultural heritage centers, museums, and historical societies. The long term financial stability of these important community-based organizations is in question. Many are still providing resources to their communities such as elder care and food relief. Others are working diligently to engage their constituents who are staying home. Continued engagement with their community is not only important to the stability of these organizations but now more than ever Chicagoans need to be uplifted by cultural enrichment and immersed in an ethos of mutual respect.

Cultural Connections replaces our annual MOSAIC Gala and Fundraiser. Help us to create a more inclusive Chicago as we work towards a goal of $50,000 by making a donation today.