Member of the Afro A Mulherada Block. Photo: Luan Teles.
Member of the Afro A Mulherada Block. Photo: Luan Teles.

PWith just one year left to complete his term at the head of the Secretariat of Culture and Tourism (SECULT) of Salvador, Pedro Tourinho is already beginning to see the results of the desires or impulses that led him to take on the position, still at the height of a career with unique reach: Born in the capital of Bahia, graduated in social communications, he is a specialist in entertainment and media. He was once the manager of, among others, the singer Anitta. He is an investor and advisor for startups. In 2019, he released the book Me, myself and my selfie, a work that talks about public image.

None of this, however, rose to the challenges – and desires – that he had set for himself when accepting the position: finally inaugurating the Museum of Afro-Brazilian Culture (Muncab); invest in the sustainability of Salvador's Afro Blocks, and create a municipal audiovisual program. All actions, obviously, reflect an objective of reparation, which goes well beyond the folklorization of the City of Bahia and its people. For Tourinho, the (black) people of Salvador don't just want the fun and art of which they are, it is highlighted, protagonists in this city, where more than 80% of the population is of African descent. Want income, want due prosperity.

“In Salvador, the city’s biggest economic vector is tourism, which is directly linked to culture. Whoever comes here comes to experience the city’s culture”, asserts the secretary. “And the identity of this culture is black. Why, then, don’t black people benefit economically and politically from this as they should?” asks Tourinho, in an interview with arte!brasileiros.

Pedro Tourinho, Secretary of Culture and Tourism of Salvador. Photo: Luan Telles
Pedro Tourinho, Secretary of Culture and Tourism of Salvador. Photo: Luan Teles

When taking over as secretary, Tourinho started from a truism – it would be nonsense to compete with the seasonality of Salvador's cultural programming. If it were the June festivals, today they are part of large shows that go beyond the forró tradition to incorporate musical manifestations from a large part of the country, especially from the world of country music. Or the December celebrations, such as the pre-New Year's Eve Festival, which, in turn, precedes the Festas de Largo, whose peaks are the Lavagem do Bonfim (January) and the Festa de Iemanjá (February). All carried out in anticipation of Carnival, by the way.

The solution was to create a “new seasonality”, with November Salvador Capital Afro. His experiences as a Salvadoran and his experiences in the world of entertainment and culture, in Brazil and abroad, gave a unique flavor to the programming. With more than 23 projects, the unprecedented calendar included, among others, fashion shows (Afro Fashion Day), black entrepreneurship and innovation festivals (Salvador Capital Afro) and Liberatum, an international humanitarian event, which has already visited 13 countries, including UK, India, Mexico, USA, Philippines, Turkey.

In Salvador, Liberatum brought together black leaders from the worlds of arts, technology and business. Among the personalities present were actresses Viola Davis, Angela Bassett and Taís Araújo; the Nigerian intellectual and Nobel Prize winner for literature, Wole Soyinka; and the Minister of Culture, Margareth Menezes, among others.

Novembro Afro also presented the Brazilian International Black Audiovisual Festival, with international guests who debated the audiovisual production chain with producers from the capital of Bahia. The festive month also marked the long-awaited reopening of the National Museum of Afro-Brazilian Culture (Muncab), one of Tourinho's priorities when taking on the role at SECULT.

“I had three initial objectives: one of them was not to miss the trip. I would go in for more urgent actions to open Muncab. Initially, we thought about creating a new institution, from scratch, looking for a space. We even set aside investment for this. Munca had been in trouble for a long time, almost 20 years”, says the secretary.

At the same time, says Tourinho, he learned that the management of the association behind the institution had changed, and two directors had resolved all legal and financial issues. “So, the mayor and I understood that it was not the case to create a new museum. We had to strengthen what was there. That was in April and we reopened the museum in November with the exhibition Um Color defect", account.

The second objective, says Tourinho, was to invest in the sustainability of the Afro Blocks in Salvador, “also placing them in a leading role on the cultural scene”. Tourinho strengthened his support for the associations and, currently, every day of the week there is an Afro Group performing in the Historic Center, for tourists and the city's population.

“We also increased our investments during Carnival, we renovated the headquarters of Malê Debalê, in Itapuã, and we are going to do the same with Ilê Aiyê, a building in Curuzu that has not been worked on for almost a decade”, he says. “We are going to air-condition it, get the school back up and running, and have space for community training. And in 2024 we will have a Carnival in honor of the 50th anniversary of Blocos Afro”.

The second thing was to invest in the sustainability of the Blocos Afros in Salvador, also placing them in a leading role on the cultural scene. We managed to increase support, so today every day of the week there is an Afro Bloc performing in the Historic Center for tourists and the city's population. We also increased our support during Carnival, we renovated the headquarters of Malê Debalê, in Itapuã, and we are going to do the same with Ilê Aiyê, a building in Curuzu that has not been worked on for almost a decade. Let's air-condition it, get the school back up and running, and have space for community training. And in 2024 we will have a Carnival in honor of the 50th anniversary of Blocos Afros.

The third item, continues the secretary, was to have a Municipal Audiovisual Program for Salvador. “We launched in March the SalCine, a complete project that ranges from training and training professionals to work in the audiovisual field. There are more than 5 thousand places in professional courses, ranging from technical areas to scriptwriting and executive production classes, among others,” he explains.

“We also had a very robust notice in the Paulo Gustavo Law for audiovisual, with a forecast of almost R$40 million, and we also announced the Salvador Film Commission [a municipal body that encourages, facilitates and supports cinematographic, television or advertising production in locations city ​​public]. The secretariat is also in negotiations with the business sector, with a view to a PPP [public-private partnership] for the construction of studios in the city”.

In January, Tourinho promotes another event linked to Afro-diasporic culture in Salvador: the Rolês Afro. Throughout the month, 30 points and ten itineraries are being created for tourists and the local population, of course. There will be culturally and historically relevant places and programs to promote and discuss issues related to the diaspora.

In addition to initiatives directly linked to culture, Pedro Tourinho also embraced, together with the city hall, an urban planning project aimed at the Historic Center of Salvador, socioeconomic development through tourism and, of course, culture.

“There are three pillars”, he explains. “One for janitorial care, in which we increased the city hall’s activities in the areas of garbage collection, security and lighting and public ordering. So crime incidents fell by 70% from March to now. Another, a housing program, in partnership with the International Housing Bank, the Ministry of Culture and Iphan. Finally, a daily cultural program, which involves everything from Blocos Afro, to the celebrations of São João and Christmas, for example.”

In the visual arts, Pedro Tourinho highlights not only the reopening of Muncab, but also the support for Laje's collection and the exhibition Memories for Dona Antônia. “We are also talking about building their own space in Plataforma [neighborhood in the railway suburb of the capital of Bahia]”, he says.

The secretary regrets the great difficulty he has in raising funds from the private sector. “There has been no substantial support from any brand for these projects. While you see brands investing millions to do an activation or even stands at festivals like Rock in Rio or The Town, Afropunk, which is an international event, didn't have any big sponsors, nor did Liberatum”, he ponders. “There is a direction on the Rio-São Paulo axis not to invest in the rest of Brazil, as if this were not important. And the contradiction is this: Bahia is present at all these events with its artists. Bahian culture is very strong.”

Tourinho also regrets that Muncab does not have “any private donor, sponsor or patron”. “The culture of visual arts in Salvador, black culture is so important for Brazilian visual arts, how do these people intend to feed this?”, he asks. “Do you just want to create an idea of ​​rarity and thus increase value, generate that old speculation? It can't be like that. It is necessary to understand that creativity comes from pain, it comes from difficulty, but it also comes from prosperity. It does not need to be linked only to systemic issues. It is possible, and it is very good, to create prosperity.”

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