HotHouse has successfully produced a number of international cultural exchanges in its long tenure as a leader in advancing smart diplomacy through the arts.
Historically, HotHouse has been long identified as one of the principal public venues in Chicago that presented a range of contemporary and traditional work from throughout the African diaspora. As part of that focus, HotHouse was the first organization in Chicago, and only one of a handful in the entire country (years before the success of The Buena Vista Social Club) to undertake the political and financial risk of hosting Cuban artists in the US during the years of the embargo. The roster of Cuban artists that made their U.S. debut via HotHouse during these years includes for example: Los Van Van, Irekere, Barbarito Torres, Sierra Maestra, Orchestra Aragon, Los Muñequitos de Matanzas and Chucho Valdes to name just a few. HotHouse created its Jazz en Clave Festival to emphasize the links between African-American and Latin jazz musics and via this festival convened coveted first-time State side collaborations between artists Pacquito de Rivera and Giovanni Hidalgo and the first U.S. appearance of (subsequent MacArthur “genius”) Dafnis Prieto.
Broadening and deepening this work has taken the shape via longer form iterative projects in international cultural exchange. HotHouse’s long-term commitment to facilitating the exploration of Black Atlantic and Afro-descendant cultural traditions is further advanced via these multidisciplinary instigations.
The Chicago â€“ Guantánamo Blues Exchange.
As Guantánamo features in the world imagination as one of the most incarcerated places on earth, this project relocates and re-contextualizes the eastern province in Cuba as a crucible of African culture. A goal of the Exchange is to connect people from communities that have been historically overly incarceled and together craft new liberatory narratives through arts pratice. This project facilitates cross-cultural awareness for genres of traditional music and related cultural practices that have migrated throughout the African diaspora. As a consequence of the social and economic inequities held over from the slave trade, many of these cultural practices and their practitioners remain virtually isolated and unknown to one another. Through antecedent and iterative projects, HotHouse has built a cohort of grassroots artists/educators/cultural workers who are deepening their experiential relationship to a variety of vernacular cultural expressions. HotHouse coordinates the logistics of the project with the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP) as a means to integrate our visiting artists in performance and cultural exchange opportunities throughout the Province.
Additional International Cultural Exchange Projects.
The Son Jarocho International Exchange Project. This unique year-long project fostered the sharing of cultural traditions between Afro-Mexican musicians living in the State of Veracruz, Mexico and semi-professional artists residing in Mexican communities throughout Chicago. Via the exchange, HotHouse organized dozens of public events (concerts, workshops, panel discussions, and fandangos) including programs at the National Mexican Museum of Art, the African Festival of the Arts, and the City of Chicago’s Summerdance.
As an ongoing practice, HotHouse organizes numerous educational delegations to Cuba every year. The delegations are focused on experiencing arts and cultural practices and sharing traditions and information. Interested parties can email us for an application and more information.