Held on October 21, in São Paulo, the seminar Cultural Management: Contemporary Challenges discussed essential management issues in the present times, in a context of political and economic crises in the country. Divided into two tables, the event was presented and hosted by the editorial director of ARTE!Brasileiros, Patricia Rousseaux, who highlighted in her opening speech some of the themes that guided the debate.

“Theoretical, legal, economic and political issues have always been part of academic programs and debates. However, the precariousness of state investments, the acceleration of sociocultural changes, the discussion of environmental and migratory issues, the rise of the debate on our colonial history, gender issues and movements of censorship towards freedom of expression have made culture an almost primordial stage of demonstrations,” said Rousseaux. “This situation presents real challenges for managers and different agents of culture and contemporary art. It requires extraordinary flexibility, a broad, democratic and ethical vision capable of understanding the demands of debate in public and private institutions”, he added.

The first table, which was also attended by Fabio Szwarcwald, CEO of EAV Parque Lage, and Jochen Volz, director of Pinacoteca de São Paulo, began with the speech of Eduardo Saron, director of Itaú Cultural. “At such a destabilized moment of our national policy, such a conservative moment – not to use a harsher word – I tend not to want to debate where the mistake lies over there, but to think about what has allowed us to reach this moment.  We stopped doing something so that society would see us in a not so meritorious way”, said Saron.

According to him, while society questions the need for public investment in culture and the government tries to criminalize artists, “the world of culture rarely crosses the street to empathize with the other field.” From this diagnosis, Saron proposed an analysis of what has happened in Brazil over the past 20 years, a period largely characterized by economic growth centered on the commodity boom and the strengthening of state-owned companies as sponsors of culture.

“And a policy that focused on the democratization of access predominated. That was the key idea when Lula takes over, for example”.  From this point of view, “turning the turnstile” has become a major indicator of cultural relevance, with many projects based on what Saron called spectacularization. It was also the period of construction of many new cultural buildings, to the detriment of carelessness with historic buildings and existing spaces.

The democratization discourse eventually legitimized culture as an “instrument and mechanism”, not as an end in itself. “And we didn’t know how to make the leap about the true role of the arts in transforming society.” For Saron, culture itself must be located as a field of transformation, and for that democratization is not enough. Enter the word “participation”, which by proposing “a field where we bring the individual to act, we stop putting ourselves as an instrument and broaden our understanding of the role of culture in the construction of humanistic thinking, from the perspective of democracy. cultural”.

“Then the referential becomes the enjoyment – the pleasure of the other in contact with art -, the fomentation – a policy for the arts in the country – and the formation – which is the core of our role as transformers of a society. Thus, art and culture can address many of society’s problems, such as education and public safety, with greater power and speed than other public policies, including lower costs, he concluded.

After Saron’s speech, Fabio Szwarcwald told a little about his work at the Parque Lage School of Visual Arts in Rio de Janeiro, where he has been since 2017. The economist and collector, who worked in banks for 22 years, took over the EAV board after a few years on its board, and in a period of deep crisis in the institution with the withdrawal of financial transfers from the state.

“EAV was founded during the Military Dictatorship, so it already has this DNA of a place of resistance, of struggle. It was created by Rubens Gerchman as a counterpoint to the existing academic schools. So we are a free school from the beginning and we understand that to be free the school must be able to afford itself, pay its own bills”, he said. “So all my work was to rescue this autonomy, this freedom of action so important these days.”

According to the economist, EAV focused on a rapprochement with the public, in addition to reinforcing the role of the association of friends responsible for the school’s financial administration. “And the idea was to open the school as much as possible because, as Saron said, many times we who work with art speak only to ourselves. And we had to open to the periphery. I mean, open to society because it will give us the strength of resistance, maintenance and even financial support”.

Through sponsorships; charity nights; the insertion of EAV in the ArtRio and SP-Arte fairs, with works provided by several artists; of an unprecedented partnership with Candido Mendes University, bringing the paid curator course; and the creation of two stores, EAV was able to rebuild itself. This year, the institution also approved an annual plan of R $ 8 million in the Culture Incentive Law. “This was all very important to redeem the free training program that is fundamental to our students’ development. And we increasingly want to bring these students who would not be able to afford a course”.

By accepting the Queermuseu exhibition – which ended after a defamatory campaign at Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre and censored by Marcelo Crivella in MAR – Parque Lage organized a crowdfunding campaign that raised over R $ 1 million to set up the show. “This also revealed the society’s revolt to see, in 2017, an exhibition with 250 artists being censored in Brazil,” said Szwarcwald.

The director also spoke about the training program for public school teachers, about Parquinho Lage, with classes for children, and the extramural partnerships, with classes in peripheral areas of Rio. “We started 2017 with 600 students and this year we have more than 6,000, 90% of which is free of charge”, he summarized of the EAV figures. “People were very homesick for the school in the 1980s, because of her role in the past, and now we have been seen, frequented, as a result of working to face the challenges, know the difficulties and set new goals,” he concluded. .

Finally, the curator and director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, Jochen Volz, began his presentation by quoting a curious fact for the present times, which shows that in the first six months of 2019, 30 Brazilian museums had a 30% increase in audience. “This is extremely interesting because it goes against what we might expect at this time of crisis. So for me, in a museum like Pinacoteca, we have to try to understand what kind of situation we are living in and how to react to it”.

According to him, in times of radicalization, in which everything is polar and dual, one can also perceive “something that is the opposite of this, something that William Wisnik described very beautifully in the book Inside the Fog. Which is that big fog where we realize that everything we knew might not be enough anymore”, said Volz. “And we are at the moment when the narratives we thought were linear are not enough, because there are many stories, not just one.”

For the curator, the current challenge goes beyond finance and management issues, and focuses especially on the relationship with the public. “It is the public who will protect us.” Based on these findings, Volz spoke about a specific exhibition presented this year at Pinacoteca, entitled Somos Muit + s: Experiments on collectivity, which started with the question of how to create ways to reflect with the public. – “even with those across the street who have turned their backs on culture.” “Because we believe that the place of art is to generate imagination about other ways of living together, other ways of imagining a democratic coexistence.”

The exhibition came from the work and thought of two key historical figures to think about participation in art: Joseph Beuys and Helio Oiticica. “Beyus already said in the 1970s that art is not a medium for something, it is the place of imagination. It has an economic value not for what it yields, but because creativity has an economic value in itself”, said the curator, stressing that the construction of a cultural life must go through a collective process of participation.

From the works of the two historical artists, the show brought together other contemporary works, including the one by Rirkrit Tiravanija – Untitled 2019 (demo station n.7) -, which occupied the Pinacoteca octagon with “an open stage, too high, dysfunctional , which from below you can not see anything. But for those on top, the view is wonderful”, commented Volz. “So there’s a role reversal, it’s a work that talks a lot more about power, about the relationships between ‘us together’.”

To perform on this stage, Pinacoteca drew artists and collectives such as Legitimate Defense, the Casa do Povo choir and JAMAC, among many others. “We had a total of 90 performances, with almost a thousand people actively participating. And it is not numbers that I am dealing with, but a proposal to think about who has the space to speak in this institution. The idea of ​​thinking about who has the power, breaking the privileges, thinking about which voices need to conquer these spaces, Volz continued.

This means, he said, that institutions like Pinacoteca need to put themselves in this position of listening, listening, celebrating diversity and “understanding that perhaps our privilege is to be able to offer an open stage.” “If we cannot create this identification, how, if political or censorship situations tighten even further, will we believe that we will be defended by people, including those who are not usually interested in culture?” Concluded the curator.

Artists benefited by good management

Following the debate with the institution managers, the second table of the seminar brought together two artists, Gabriela Noujaim and Jonathas de Andrade, and two specialists in cultural management and creative solutions, Ana Carla Fonseca and Katia Araújo by Marco Scorzelli. First to speak, Noujaim, who has a degree in printmaking from the UFRJ School of Fine Arts, told about the importance of the free courses she took over the years at EAV Parque Lage, with teachers such as Dionísio del Santo, Evany Cardoso, Anna Bella Geiger. and Fernando Cocchiarale. “They were fundamental to my education as an artist. And if they weren’t free, I wouldn’t have been able to do it”, she said.

In addition to presenting her work, which deals with body, memory and ancestry and raises political questions about indigenous and environmental causes, Noujaim entered the theme of cultural management by talking about her ten-year experience with projects sponsored by Banco do Nordeste Cultural Center. Through the institution, the artist has done more than a dozen projects in the region. “It was fundamental to know the interior of the country and our culture”.

“These cultural centers, directly linked to the federal government, also support some points of culture in smaller cities. And currently they are facing many difficulties, they are at risk”, she said. “And I consider the permanence of these centers to be fundamental, because in these cities they are the only existing cultural movement that provides access to theater, cinema, contemporary art and free art workshops.”

The second to speak was the artist from Alagoas Jonathas de Andrade, who stressed the importance of scholarships, incentives and residences in his career. “I am quite clear that if I were starting at this current juncture, I would have much more difficulty developing myself as an artist”, he said, referring to what he called a “scrapping and cultural dismantling process that we live in Brazil today”.

Jonathas, who attended the 7th Mercosur Biennial, the 32nd São Paulo Biennial and resided in several countries, told about his career in the arts that began at the end of the Social Communication course at UFPE. His first exhibition of photographs, set up at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation after a selection process for young artists, also resulted in a publication funded by Funcultura. “At that time, when I was trying to understand myself as an artist, all the incentives, scholarships and public possibilities were fundamental in the unfolding of things.”

Jonathas’ first show in São Paulo, in turn, took place at Itaú Cultural itself, and over the years the artist had the support of Banco Real, Funarte and biennials, among others. “And that makes me think that it is urgent that both institutions and companies that can afford to develop arts programs.” “At this critical moment we have ecological disasters, genocides and a number of very pressing issues. But to think of culture as an articulator of all this, to really give this country a breath, I think that supporting the arts is also urgent, because we are dealing with memories that persist”, he concluded.

Management Cases

The following presentation was by Ana Carla Fonseca, master of business administration and doctorate in urbanism from USP, adviser to the UN and the IDB on creative economy and cities. She spoke especially about her work with Garimpo de Soluções, a company that runs alongside Alejandro Castañé, focused on the creative economy, business solutions and city development.

Fonseca presented five examples of projects developed or monitored by the company, among them the competition held to select innovative visual identities for sardines in Lisbon. The process, which exemplifies how it is possible to work with the traditions and intangible heritage of a place in an original way, has in many ways reflected in the local economy. A former ceramics company, for example, started to produce stamped tableware with the illustrations selected in the competition, creating a new and profitable market segment.

Fonseca also spoke about the work of the Cuban company Habaguanex, which for over 20 years helped revitalize buildings in the historic Habana Vieja region through a careful project of heritage management; from a pizzeria in Mexico that created a hybrid business model, where every five pieces of pizza sold the company targets one for homeless people with drug problems; and from a Chilean company that, working simultaneously with ancestry and technology, created speakers made of clay structure using traditional techniques.

Last participant to speak, Katia de Marco briefly presented the work of the Brazilian Association of Cultural Management (ABGC) – which in addition to the focus on teaching assumes a role of militancy in cultural causes – of which she is founder and president, and raised questions about the contemporary challenges. Katia, who is also coordinator of the postgraduate studies in cultural and social studies at Candido Mendes University and director of the Antonio Parreiras Museum (Niterói), highlighted the striking differences between the first two decades of the 21st century regarding the cultural field in Brazil.

“We started the century in a very promising way, with high hopes, having this binomial culture and development in a very open and very free way”, she said. “Culture emerged at this time in its larger dimension, interacting with various layers of knowledge, instrumental life, exchanges with the economy, as a support for development policies, as a communication channel between various fields.”

In Brazil, according to her, this was reflected in the work of the Ministry of Culture, based on a humanistic and social vision. From there she drew an overview of some ideas, concepts and events that illustrated this period, in a context of bankruptcy of the neoliberal model in the late 20th century. With the holding of several meetings and the implementation of international agreements, concepts emerged that pass through ideas of sustainability, technology, management, citizenship, well-being and inclusion. In this transition also appears a need for action and empowerment of civil society, as explained the president of ABGC. “This is before the humanistic blackout we are experiencing in this second decade”, she said.

Considering the social, environmental, and political issues that spanned these two decades of the 21st century and ended in the current obscure picture, phenomena such as resource scarcity, chaotic city growth, terrorism, migratory flows, and the rise of the far right arise. “And in this scenario, to think about the future of the planet you need to create outputs, alternatives, new institutions, new business models and concepts,” said the professor. The answers often come from artists, “if we think that art is like a radar that foresees and at the same time reflects its tim”.

“One thing that seemed unthinkable, and one we’re living in, is this authoritarianism that appeals to censorship in art. And this is impacting the cultural environment so much because in Brazil about 70% of cultural facilities are tied to public management, governments. And then we think that maybe it is time to disengage a little from the state, create mechanisms of autonomy in the artistic institutions”, defended Katia. Solutions such as equity funds emerge, for example, among other alternatives to “this moment when we no longer have that atmosphere of the first decade of this century, of culture being expressed in inclusive cultural and socialization policies,” she concluded.

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