Video take donated by photographer Gideon Mendel

A task force bringing together UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture, Iphan and the Rio Grande do Sul Culture and Education secretariats began last week a preliminary survey of the impact of the flood in the state in relation to cultural institutions – museums, culture, cinemas, exhibitions and historical heritage, among others. 

“The reduction in water levels allowed, for the first time since the start of the flood in Rio Grande do Sul, access to buildings on foot. Previously, it was possible to reach the locations only by boat”, said a note from the Communications Office of the Secretary of State for Culture this Monday, 20. According to the secretariat, a technical team carried out a new inspection of institutions linked to the government in Historic Center of Porto Alegre, affected by the tragedy. According to the secretariat, three museums in Rio Grande do Sul have begun recovering their collections with remote guidance from experts. 

The television network CNN reported this week that 98 municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul had cultural assets damaged, and that this damage affects 650 archaeological sites and 28 listed assets. The preliminary survey, according to the broadcaster, is from Institute of National Historic and Artistic Heritage (Iphan), in collaboration with the government of Rio Grande do Sul and the city of Porto Alegre. The state of Rio Grande do Sul has 378 museums registered by the government (10% of the country's total museums), and a selection of volunteers is currently being made to work in municipal museums. 

The secretariat informed that it still collects information on cultural assets (libraries, museums, houses of culture, theaters, cultural spaces, etc.) and collections (books, works of art, documents, museum pieces, etc.). “The main difficulties faced are the still existing lack of knowledge about the number of collections affected, roadblocks (making face-to-face inspections impossible), telephony and the internet which are not available. fully reestablished, and the teams reduced”, he informed, in a note. 

In the Historic Center of Porto Alegre, the Mario Quintana House of Culture (CCMQ), the center's jewel, and the Rio Grande do Sul Art Museum (Margs) were hit hard by the waters. Inside Casa Mario Quintana, the visiting team found that the main damage suffered by the Cinemateca Paulo Amorim rooms occurred to armchairs and carpets, as well as air conditioning units, which were immersed in at least half a meter of water. Despite the damage to the cinema libraries and the furniture in the reception on the ground floor, the space hopes to be able to receive the public from June onwards, if electricity is restored in the region. “A damage that is often not very much accounted for in these surveys is in our core activity, the the fact that we receive around 30 thousand visitors per month, that we have an economy linked to the house of culture, of producers, cultural agents, artists and technicians who no longer receive payments”, he stated Germana Konrath, director of Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana. “We want to open as soon as possible, circulate this economy, reactivate all our spaces and agendas, and also serve as a Cultural Reception Zone. As a point for people who have their home as a reference, and also for those in shelters, who need a space of privacy, to study, read, charge their cell phones, have an internet point. The idea is that we provide this possibility.” 

Another important cultural center, the Memorial do Rio Grande do Sul, located in a historic building from the 1910s, located in Praça da Alfândega (a building listed by the City Hall and listed by Iphan), is also still inaccessible on foot. The building also houses the Historical Archive of Rio Grande do Sul (AHRS) and the Anthropological Museum of Rio Grande do Sul (Mars). They were preserved because they operate on the upper floors of the building. 

In all the audiovisual exhibition rooms at Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana – Paulo Amorim, Eduardo Hirtz and Norberto Lubisco – a lot of mud, humidity and water were found. The team stated that it is not yet possible, at the moment, to assess the losses of furniture and other needs for the recovery of the space, but highlighted that the projection and sound systems were not affected as they were located in the projection booths, located on the second floor of the building. building. 

No Margs, the main objective of the in-person inspection was to check the access conditions on the ground floor. Despite the drop in the water level, the rate of reduction has slowed, keeping the ground floor flooded at a height that still does not allow safe movement. The secretariat team informed that it will continue to monitor the situation of the affected institutions. 

The biggest arts event in the South of the country, the Mercosul Biennial, which would be held from September 12th, officially announced its postponement on Tuesday night, the 21st. The Bienal was expected to have an audience of 800 people and more than 100 invited artists, and its traditional strategy consists of occupying the majority of Porto Alegre's exhibition spaces, but in September it is not yet known what the reconstruction and recomposition process will be like. of museum services. “Due to the challenges faced after the climate tragedy in our state, the 14th edition of the Mercosul Biennial will be postponed”, informed the note. “This is an important moment of solidarity, unity and reconstruction – and art plays a decisive role in this process. The Biennale will take place at the right time to revive the artistic sector and attract visitors back to the Capital. We will soon announce the new date, always seeking to celebrate art, culture, unity and overcoming.” 

Another action to react to the effects of the tragedy focuses on financial support for producers. Unable to work since the start of the flood (with concert halls, bars, theaters and exhibition halls closed), artists and producers started the campaign Apta RS – Help for All Artists in Rio Grande do Sul, to support cultural workers. For its part, the state secretariat is seeking to anticipate the immediate transfer of resources from the nine public notices of the Paulo Gustavo Law (LPG), which made 90 million reais available to the state for selected projects. The Ministry of Culture, in turn, postponed the deadlines for presenting accounts and adhering to systems so as not to put pressure on municipalities and producers in the state. In relation to the notice of local development legislation, the Culture Incentive Law (LIC), in progress, the department awaits the reestablishment of the electronic system to complete the evaluation stage and comply with the schedule, which foresees the publication of the result in June . 

The arts have also suffered a tremendous impact in other cultural territories. The bookselling sector, which concentrated its headquarters in the North Zone of the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, was hit hard by the flood, losing valuable stocks and collections. This was the case of the publisher L&PM, whose book depository, located in the Farrapos neighborhood, was under 1,5 meters of water and estimates that it may have lost 10 thousand volumes. Another publisher, Artes e Ofícios, also had its warehouse, in which 107 thousand books were stored, invaded by water. The publisher Libretos estimated the loss of 12 thousand volumes and losses of 350 thousand reais due to the flood. The publisher Jambô waits for the water to recede inside its office, in the Historic Center, to calculate the losses. 

The State government began a process of mapping the affected municipal public libraries, to outline strategies for restoring collections, in addition to beginning the accreditation of volunteers to work in the recovery of reading spaces. 

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