Experience Chicago culture virtually!

Experience Chicago culture virtually!

Now has never been a better time for innovation and creativity and our members have proven to be just that! With the our world experiencing a more digital lifestyle, you can now explore Chicago’s remarkable cultural centers, museums, and organizations… virtually!

If you’re running out of ideas for things to do during the pandemic, this is the perfect option! Grab your friends and family and check out everything from online art collections to virtual video tours. These organizations have created a path for us to see Chicago in a new way, all from the comfort of our own homes. Check out the list below for participating cultural organizations and explore all that Chicago culture has to offer! 

The Alliance Supports Taking Out Racism

During the COVID-19 pandemic, racism towards the API communities (Asian Pacific Islanders) 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.

This is why Chicago Cultural Alliance has partnered with RAAD, Random Acts of API Defiance, for Take Out Racism, a campaign they created in response to the rise of  animosity and xenophobia toward APIs in America from the beginning of COVID-19.

RAAD is a collective of queer API scholars, artists, and designers committed to combating racism through bold creative interventions. Their belief system is entirely built upon not only independent work but also in partnership with ally organizations—to advance equity for all people and amplify the collective voice of underrepresented communities. 

As described on their website: RAAD designed the Take Out Racism campaign as a call-to-action for APIs and their allies to root out discrimination in US politics and culture. Posters are the first in a series of tactical interventions designed to contest the racist identification of Covid-19 as a “Chinese virus,” while overturning the “model minority” myth of APIs more generally. Our campaign hijacks the common association of TAKE OUT with cheap, undifferentiated “Asian cuisine” to foreground the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of APIs in this country. It is both a celebration of API solidarity-in-difference and a call for APIs to TAKE OUT systemic racism alongside other BIPOC communities—defiantly and together. 

In partnership with RAAD’s Take Out Racism campaign, the Alliance will periodically share stories and content from members of the API communities as this relates to our shared mission of equity and cultural inclusion. The work of Chicago Cultural Alliance promotes, connects, and supports 40 cultural heritage centers throughout the city in pursuit of allowing all cultural voices to feel heard and we are proud to support taking out racism. 




Open House Chicago Program: Stories of Im/Migration

Open House Chicago Program: Stories of Im/Migration

As part of the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual architecture festival program, Open House Chicago, Stories of Im/Migration – Sites of Unity shares the voices, memories, and stories of several Chicago Cultural Alliance Core Members and community stakeholders in Chicago as they reflect upon their cultural stories of im/migration and the local sites where their community has gathered, then and now, as they have made this place their home.

Their stories celebrate the hyphenated-American communities that they have built here and the impact they have had on the fabric of our city. They also reveal the profound effects of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry as well as moments of perseverance and pride. Key to this conversation is the term im/migration, which has come to envelop a more inclusive and equitable understanding of the many paths all people have taken to arrive where they are today—whether they were always here, such as First Peoples, immigrated from another place of their own volition, or were forcibly estranged from a former homeland as a product of chattel slavery, a byproduct of war, or imperialism.

This program will highlight sites we may not be aware of in our own neighborhoods and will take the form of a 60-minute panel discussion richly illustrated with photographs from several Chicago Cultural Alliance Core Members’ archives, including maps of where associated sites are located in Chicago neighborhoods. Panelists will feature photographs of one or several significant community sites in the Chicago area accompanied by their own personal stories associated with their community’s im/migration to Chicago. After individual stories are shared, the panel will convene and discuss commonalities, or differences in experience, and consider Chicago’s great places of unity.

This year’s Open House Chicago is expected to happen between October 16-25 where attendees can look forward to both in-person and remotely accessible experiences that unlock fascinating stories about neighborhoods across Chicago! 

For more information about our program contact Andrew Leith: [email protected]

And for more information about Open House Chicago: openhousechicago.org

The Arts Resilience Archives supported by Illinois Humanities

The Arts Resilience Archives supported by Illinois Humanities

Chicago Cultural Alliance is pleased to announce to our members and supporters that we were approved for the Illinois Humanities 2020 Community Resilience Grant!

The goal of this grant category is to support organizations in using the humanities to make visible the experiences of residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and highlight stories of community resiliency throughout the state.

The Community Resilience grant presents a significant opportunity which enables the Alliance to work with new tools and materials generated by StoryCorps Chicago, to engage our Members in order to create an oral history archive specifically collecting, documenting, and sharing museum and arts professionals’ first-hand responses to COVID-19 and the ensuing crisis. Working with Amy Tardif at Story Corps, we are able to utilize two specific free community archives methods, including StoryCorps Connect and Virtual.

This program, Arts Resilience Archives, will comprise of an initial collection of 20-30 oral histories spanning a broad range of arts and museum professionals, diverse cultural groups. Freelance editors will edit approximately 4 select interviews for a workshop and listening event in October to share impact and take-away points. The arts community will be able to freely access and contribute to these archives in the future for uses such as building solidarity, networking, and healing, as well as long-term planning and cultivating emergency response preparations.

We are more than excited to have received this grant and for the opportunity to put the Arts Resilience Archives in motion!

For more information about the program, contact Andrew Leith: [email protected]


Peter’s Arroz con Gandules

Peter’s Arroz con Gandules

Peter Vega, Executive Director Chicago Cultural Alliance

Taste from Home is a collection of recipes and stories can be used as a way to connect with others and facilitate conversations about race, culture, and identity over a new recipe. Make a cultural dish and sit down with family and friends and have a discussion of the culture it represents.  Please consider making a tax-deductible donation today, if you are able. If you are unable to donate, you can still participate by sharing a recipe by using hashtags #tastefromhome, #tastefromhomerecipe, & #chicagocultural on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


Since we’re all spending more time at home, I hope the recipes and stories we’re sharing through Taste From Home bring us closer to our families and friends. I’ve shared a recipe for arroz con gandules, Puerto Rican rice, and pigeon peas. As I wrote this, I remembered my grandfather grew his own gandules in Florida. It’s wonderful how food can bring up memories. Don’t you love the moments when you are eating a dish and with a first bite a flood of memories come back? I had this moment at Nellie’s Restaurant in Humboldt Park not long ago. I ate a delicious pernil, roast pork, and I was brought to tears because I immediately thought about my dad who passed away just last year. The moment was painful but wonderful at the same time. 

My dad was such a wonderful cook. I learned a lot of cooking from my family but I could never cook like my dad. No one can. However, I made it a point to make more Puerto Rican food at home in honor of my dad so I don’t lose the delicious recipes.

I grew up in New York City in the Bronx. Puerto Rican bodegas and restaurants were on every corner.  Moving to Chicago’s made it a bit more challenging to find Puerto Rican food in neighborhoods outside of Humboldt Park. I make due though. Over the past 7 years, I’ve enjoyed exploring my Puerto Rican culture in the kitchen. I’m grateful that the move required me to do so. 

The Goya boycott makes finding ingredients for my family’s recipes difficult. Consumer activism, choosing what we purchase in support of more ethical business practices, does make an impact when we live in a world where capitalism reigns supreme. However, I also want to recognize the increase in “cancel” culture and it’s toxicity. It is very easy to “cancel” a brand, company, celebrity, or politician. It’s important for us to also have more courageous conversations and think deeper about how our decisions affect everyone.

Goya has over 4000 employees throughout the US, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Spain. When we “cancel” a company, we’re also taking a risk in people losing their jobs. Let’s not forget about those people and think collectively about how we can support those who may suffer from job loss. 

I’ll definitely miss aspects of the Goya brand. I’ve come to the realization boycotting Goya makes me miss the visual representation of my culture in small ways. In New York, I walked into any grocery store or bodega and Goya was everywhere! In Chicago, it is much harder to find when you walk into Mariano’s, Jewel, and don’t get me started on Whole Foods. My local grocery store, Edgewater Produce, reminds me of New York City’s bodegas. Here, I can find all the brands and options I need for my family dishes. I know other cultures can relate to this as well. We have Asian, African, and Indian all over Chicago. Most sell products that can’t be found at “mainstream” grocery stores.  When I walk into a place that has Goya products, I feel seen. I feel like I belong. I feel like I’m at home.

Now, I am not saying I will continue to buy Goya products. I’ll do my work to find the ingredients I need to make my family recipes. It won’t be an easy task though. Edgewater Produce is small and options are still limited. It’s important to remember that choice is a privilege. Not everyone will have the option to find other ingredients or explore other grocery stores. When we “cancel” and move on, let’s not forget about the people who don’t have that same privilege to do so.

Taste From Home has given me, and I hope others, an opportunity to talk to their families about recipes that open conversations to many other topics. It also provided me with the opportunity to explore new cultural recipes. I’ve never cooked lentils at home until I made the delicious Turkish Lentil Soup recipe shared by one of our Board Members, Suzanne Franklin. We want Taste From Home to help facilitate conversations about race, culture, and identity. With all the challenges we’re facing today, food may be a simplified way to understand other cultures. It’s definitely not the only way, but food and family recipes are things we can all relate to. When the world is so complicated, it’s refreshing to remind ourselves about the simple things, like my family’s delicious arroz con gandules.