arte!✱ – In this context of the coronavirus pandemic and the need for social isolation, how are you working in the IMS? What kind of work has it been possible to carry out and what are the plans for the coming times?
The IMS closed its cultural centers in São Paulo (SP), Rio de Janeiro (RJ) and Poços de Caldas (MG) to the public at the time when the alerts from the health authorities of the three states were released, and placed all its employees working from home. Since then, we have dedicated ourselves to the necessary actions to ensure the safety and preservation of collections and buildings, as well as a series of actions aimed at maintaining and expanding our presence in virtual networks, especially on our website. Either through the continuity of usual initiatives, such as Rádio Batuta and others related to our collections, or through new initiatives especially designed for this moment, such as IMS Quarantine, which offers content related to the magazines saw e TO THE; the IMS de Casa, with contents linked to the collections; and the Convida Program, which in its first edition features 60 artists and collectives from all over Brazil who were invited to create works that reflect on the isolation resulting from this pandemic.
Talking about Brazilian museums and thinking about the text that you published, in addition to thinking about what kind of museums – and experiences – we want to have after the pandemic, unfortunately we still need to think about the very capacity for existence and survival of many of these institutions. We have just seen, less than 2 years after the fire at the National Museum in Rio, another fire at the UFMG Natural History Museum. I would like you to talk a little about how you see these events and this situation.
The Brazilian museum scene faces a series of immense historical challenges, of which perhaps the most serious is the absence of consolidated public policies that understand the nature, role and importance of these institutions, and can offer them real conditions for development. It is important to note that, on the part of the professionals of these museums, at all levels, there is full awareness and knowledge of the technical, operational, administrative and cultural needs of their institutions, but unfortunately this knowledge has not found resonance with the responsible authorities.
Would you say that the situation of many public museums in Brazil demonstrates a fragility of a model of cultural institutions financed directly by the State? Are mixed models or private institutions less vulnerable? How do you see this picture?
At least two-thirds of Brazilian museums are state-owned. There is therefore an imperative need to build public policies for these institutions. There are shared management models (such as the OS management model) that have shown great potential, provided they are properly implemented, managed and respected by the different levels of government. But obviously it is not a magic solution nor applicable to all situations. On the other hand, the vast majority of private institutions also face great difficulties, including in terms of survival, and due to their importance, they cannot do without public support through different strategies, such as the Incentive Laws.
Thinking about the political and cultural context in the country in a broad way, in about a year and a half of Bolsonaro's government we have now reached the fifth title in the Culture portfolio. What does this demonstrate about the value given to culture by the government? And how does this whole picture affect the work in the IMS as well?
The political moment that Brazil is going through is particularly painful for the area of Culture as a whole. Attacked in every way, with its institutions – especially at the federal level – violated and disrespected, and facing the terrible impacts of this pandemic, Brazilian Culture is under terrible threats, for which only the courage, dedication and competence of its different agents offer to exceed expectations.
As an institution intrinsically linked to the Brazilian context, the IMS experiences these impacts on a daily basis, sympathizes with all our companions in this struggle, and seeks to offer support and spaces that can contribute in a solidary way to all these difficult confrontations. ✱