(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 8/20; Photo: Chicago Tribune.)

We’re safer staying outside. But in Chicago, where summer is short, time rapidly is running out for the arts to take advantage of the warm, fresh air. What a missed opportunity.

This week, the Chicago Latino Theatre Alliance announced plans to take advantage of the giant outdoor screen that has been erected in the parking lot of Chitown Futbol in Pilsen (now also known as the ChiTown Movies) and, for one night only on Sept. 17, produce an epic, multi-format and multi-disciplinary event designed to celebrate this city’s Latino theater, film, music and art.

If you want to attend Destinos al Aire, all you have to do is pay $30 and show up with your car and (if you wish) lawn chairs to sit outside your vehicle. For that, you get up to six guests for an experience replete with live music, theatrical performances both virtual and in-person from stellar local groups like Aguijón Theater and Teatro Vista, along with dance, comedy, film and even food. (ChiTown Movies specializes in popcorn, tacos, wings and frozen mangos, served right to your car.)

What a fabulous use of this innovative venue at 2343 S. Throop St. I’ll wager it won’t take long to sell out the space for 140 cars, especially since Myrna Salazar, the executive director of CLATA, says the bywords here are “fun” and “celebratory.” I’ve seen how much space is available there and I don’t doubt for a second that the event will be safe and socially distanced.

With care, creativity, goodwill and advance planning, these things are very doable.

Elsewhere in the world, in fact, these outdoor stagings are not only proving to be very successful but they are being hailed as a positive force in the maintenance of collective mental and physical health. Instead of standing in their way like naysayers, city and national governments generally have been working with arts groups to help them follow regulations, maintain social distancing and mask use and ensure safety.

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