Former Chilean monastery turned ‘revolutionary’ cultural venue

Diana Santiago is causing quite a stir in Santiago with its exciting program of live music and theater in the heart of the capital.

A Santiago landmark, the Diana venue is making waves since its latest reincarnation as a cultural hotspot for the capital. Photo via @DianaSantiago_ / Twitter
A Santiago landmark, the Diana venue is making waves since its latest reincarnation as a cultural hotspot for the capital. Photo via @DianaSantiago_ / Twitter

Something is afoot in downtown Santiago. San Diego street, already the hallowed ground of popular music and urban culture for several decades, has been drawing crowds of forward thinking culture vultures, keen to check out the new venue being heralded as “revolutionary” for the arts scene by local press.

Strictly speaking, though, Diana Santiago isn’t all that new. The venue opened its doors in its current incarnation back in January, hosting the likes of progressive Chicago rockers Cave, but before that the San Diego hotspot had a long life as a games center and arcade venue.

In the family for several decades and before that part of a church building and one-time monastery, Diana is certainly not short of history.

However, a collective of young promoters, architects and creative types have taken over and brought forward the current theme that are making headlines now.

So far Chilean electronica royalty Los Mismos and Electrodomesticos have played here, pioneering French theater groups have walked the stage and intriguing documentaries have been shown but plans stretch far beyond just music, plays and cinema cycles. Acclaimed itinerant and eclectic restaurant El Jardin — currently found in the leafy Barrio Italia neighborhood — has made plans to move in next door, a vote of confidence of a new cultural hotspot if there ever was one.

TOMA, a group of architects with an eye to communal participation and promoting cultural activities, are also involved in the newest Diana project.

One of the collectives members, Leonardo Cappetto, explained the open minded approach of the new venue and the variety of actors looking to get involved.

“This will be a broad cultural space,” he said. “We are working to incorporate a number of groups with interests in social and cultural fields who are keen to develop projects at Diana. We have also spoken with cooperative groups and collaborative communal projects from the education sector.”

Diana Santiago is in the center of the city on San Diego 438, a short walk from Metro Universidad de Chile and the city’s main thoroughfare, Alameda.