Chicago College of Performing Arts

The Center for Arts Leadership is a newly launched center for empowering students and alumni of the Chicago College of Performing Arts through experiential learning and growth opportunities in community engagement, social justice and career development.

Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!

HAPPY NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH!

The cast of Mi Latinidad (2019), a group of Latnix performers from CCPA’s Music and Theatre Conservatories.

Each year, we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. At the Center for Arts Leadership, we encourage students to embrace their heritage and utilize their connection to culture to put their truest artistic self into the world. For people of Hispanic heritage, representation in the arts, specifically in the United States, has lacked substantially for hundreds of years. To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month and our diverse student body here at CCPA, I interviewed some conservatory students about their experiences as Hispanic performers.

I first talked with Carlos Skolnick, a Freshman Musical Theatre Major in our Theatre Conservatory. Carlos reflected on his upbringing here in the U.S. and how his mother’s influence as an Argentinian immigrant in America molded the person he is today. “Having grown up around my Argentine family, I have always been surrounded by chatter and laughter. Everyone says what is on their mind, they are always straight to the point. My family is so generous with their time, and they are always there for me in literally any situation. I can confide in them like my best friends. I really think that all these circumstances have made me who I am today in the sense that I have learned not to take a single thing for granted and to always give before even thinking about receiving anything.” In Argentina, there is a general expectation placed upon individuals to be loyal and committed to their family, putting the interests of the family above their own. Close-knit relations provide Argentines with a network of security and support, particularly in times of need. Carlos says he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of his family: “Hispanic heritage is one that values hard work and determination, and of course family. I take after those values, and my Hispanic family has supported me and urged me to follow my passions every step of the way. Without them I would be lost.”

Carlos Skolnick is a Freshman Musical Theatre Major.

Carlos has not yet had the opportunity to represent Hispanic culture on stage, but he is optimistic about the future for Hispanic performers in the theatre world. It is important to Carlos that the portrayal of Hispanic people in performance deviates from the stereotypical characterizations too often presented on American stages. “I would love to see more opportunities for Hispanic performers to tell their stories and to be seen as thriving individuals/families reaching for their dreams and achieving them.” When considering the issue of Hispanic representation, it is vital for us to understand that these are people who deserve to be winners, lovers, and main characters of stories presented onstage.

The Center for Arts Leadership is always striving to empower the students of CCPA to share their stories both within the conservatory and out in the world. The Performing Social Justice Seed Grant offered through the Center for Arts Leadership has allowed students to apply for funding that turns their arts-related social justice ideas into reality. One of these projects, Mi Latinidad, has been active for two years and continues to celebrate Latinx performers from both the Music and Theatre Conservatories. These cabaret style shows are aimed at highlighting Hispanic cultures through performance and give Latinx students an opportunity to represent their heritage on stage. In past years, proceeds from Mi Latinidad have gone to a number of Hispanic charities. These include the “I Love Venezuela Foundation”, a charity that assists established non-profits in Venezuela by providing them with necessary resources, and “Casa Kolacho”, an arts organization located in Colombia dedicated to helping youth fuel their artistic ventures. The work Mi Latinidad has done over the past few years is a prime example of taking artistic action in the name of your culture. In the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are grateful to have been a part of the efforts which showcase these incredible artists.

Observing Hispanic Heritage Month allows us to show support for the work that the Latinx community is doing to help this country grow. Along with recognizing the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Center for Arts Leadership believes that it is equally important to raise awareness of the Latinx community within the arts. There are countless ways to support Hispanic people working in the industry, starting with support for local performances! We have provided a list of just a few of the many upcoming performances in the Chicago area created by, performed for, or inspired by Latinx artists.

Have a performance you’d like to share or a favorite organization that celebrates artists of Hispanic Heritage? Be sure to comment below!

Latinx Heritage Month Opening Celebration
A fun night celebrating Latinx heritage with arts vendors, food, music, dancing, and entertainment provided by ¡Pachanga!
Thu, October 3, 2019
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/latinx-heritage-month-opening-celebration-tickets-71561517425

Hispanic Heritage Month Concert
Rev. 7:9 presents a worship concert celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sun, October 6, 2019
5:00 PM – 6:30 PM
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hispanic-heritage-month-concert-tickets-71542853601

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by Latino Alliance at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The CSO Latino Alliance hosts four pre concert networking receptions each season which feature special guest artists giving insights into the evening’s concert plus light food and beverages, followed by a Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert.
Thurs, October 17, 2019
Reception: 6:30 PM
Concert: 8:00 PM
https://cso.org/support/get-involved/latino-alliance/

Quinn Simmons • September 26, 2019


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