Santiago es…

By Tyler York

During my time in Santiago, I and my fellow Emersonians took part in a workshop in which Duoc UC students presented place branding projects. The projects focused on the promotion of Santiago to increase global awareness of the city’s offerings.

The students highlighted Santiago’s historical significance, rich cultural activities, diverse cuisine, and the variety of environments near the city, among other things. While all the presentations were excellent, one left a significant impression on me, especially when I considered my own experiences in Santiago.

The presentation began “Santiago es…” and the students finished the thought with words such as passion, friendship, and energy. Energy. Santiago is certainly a city of energy. Forward moving, yet it honors its past.

I had the pleasure to see some of Santiago’s energetic arts community in action. I toured the Museo Nacional de Belles Artes, the oldest museum of fine arts in South America, visited the Teatro Municipal, an institution over 150 years old that finished a complete, glorious restoration in 2010, and saw a production based on the famed poet Pablo Neruda at Teatro Mori.

At the Belles Artes, not only did I see phenomenal paintings and sculpture from 19th and 20th century Chilean artists, but also new work: photography, installation, multimedia, by artists from throughout South America.

Museo Nacional de Belles Artes
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

The Teatro Municipal featured a wonderful street exhibit about it history and restoration. Some of the world’s greatest artists have performed on its stage and the building itselfis an object of true artistic beauty.

Teatro Municipal
Teatro Municipal

The performance at Tearo Mori, entitled “Ardiente paciencia,” was fantastically executed in every way. The theatre is located at Parque Aracu, a large shopping center full of life. It seems an odd place for a theatre at first (a bowling alley sits opposite the venue!), but I could see clearly that it was a popular place. Teatro Mori performs in repertory… a different shoe began 20 minutes after “Ardiente paciencia” ended! How’s that for a new business model?

Ultimately, I felt as though Santiago is… the artistic heart of Chile. After all, 6.5 million people live there, that is approximately 40% of the country’s population. The arts are active through Chile to be sure, but Santiago has a special weapon in it’s arts community to promote the global brand of the city.

It begs the question, “Boston is…?” I’ve been discussing this exact question with staff and members of StageSource Boston since the Boston Theatre Conference this past February and through the Building a Better Commonwealth forums organized by the Boston Globe.

What is Boston to you? What factor do the arts play in Brand Boston? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.


Tyler L. York is the Assistant General Manager of Emerson Stage.

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