From left to right, Jochen Volz, Fabio Szwarcwald and Eduardo Saron. At the seminar “Cultural Management: Contemporary Challenges”, organized by ARTE!Brasileiros and by Itaú Cultural.

 Held on October 21, in São Paulo, the seminar “Cultural Management: Contemporary Challenges”, organized by the ARTE!Brasileiros and by Itaú Cultural, it brought together managers, specialists and artists to discuss essential topics about management in current times. Divided into two tables, the event was presented and mediated 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 formed part of academic programs and debates. However, the precariousness of state investments, the acceleration of sociocultural changes, the discussion on environmental and migratory issues, the rise of the debate on our colonial history, gender issues and the movements to try to censor freedom of expression have made culture an almost primordial stage for demonstrations”, stated Rousseaux. “This situation has been presenting real challenges to managers and different agents of culture and contemporary art. It is no longer enough to have studied art history, museology, education or business administration. Extraordinary flexibility is needed, a broad, democratic and ethical vision capable of understanding the demands of contemporary debate, in public and private institutions”, he added.

The first panel, which also included the participation of Fabio Szwarcwald, CEO of EAV Parque Lage, and Jochen Volz, general director of Pinacoteca, began with a speech by Eduardo Saron, director of Itaú Cultural. “In such a destabilized moment in our national policy, such a conservative moment – ​​not to use a harsher word –, I tend not to want to debate where the error is on the other side, but to think about what allowed us to reach this moment. . We failed to do something so that society would see us in a less than meritorious way”, said Saron at the beginning of his speech, referring to the constant questioning both of the artists' work and the need to finance culture in a country with serious problems. health, violence, education, etc.

“We have, on the one hand, a society that questions us and on the other, a government that tries to criminalize us and does not understand our role, not even from the economic point of view of what art can provide. And at the same time you have the world of art and culture rarely crossing the street to empathize with this other field,” he continued. Based on this diagnosis, Saron proposed an analysis of what happened in Brazil in the cultural field in the last 20 years, a period largely characterized by economic growth centered on the commodity boom and by the strengthening of state-owned companies as sponsors of culture.

“And a policy very focused on the issue of democratization of access prevailed. This was the key idea when Lula took over, for example, with Gilberto Gil at MinC. More artists needed to be in contact with a greater number of audiences”. From this point of view, “turning the ratchet” has become a great 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, at the expense of carelessness with historic buildings and existing spaces.

Turnstile, spectacularization and the construction of buildings dominated the agenda, with the discourse of democratization legitimizing culture as an “instrument and mechanism”, not as an end in itself. “And I'm not advocating that this topic ceases to exist, but I want to advance the discussion about what our new paradigm is, about what we need to look for. And democratization is even within this new paradigm”, said the director of Itaú Cultural. “Because when the commodity boom collapses, this whole movement collapses. And we didn't know how to make the leap to the true role of culture and the arts in transforming society. Our role cannot be that of a tool, an instrument.”

For Saron, culture itself must be located as a field of transformation, and democratization is not enough for that. The word “participation” enters there, something already foreseen, according to him, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which says “that every person has the right to participate in the artistic, cultural and scientific life of his people and of others”. “And by proposing a field where we bring the individual to participate, 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 cultural democracy”.

“Of course, this imposes other issues on us and forces us to take another, much more complex, level of cultural management, which works with the existing repertoire of the other to dialogue with the repertoire we are proposing”, said Saron. “So the turnstile cannot be the reference, much less spectacularization and neither can the building. For me, the reference becomes fruition – the pleasure of the other in contact with art –, promotion – a policy for the arts in the country – and training – which is the core of our role as transformers of a society.”

By placing art and culture at the level of participation, he concluded, it is possible to face the current debates, including on the scarcity of resources, since participation also results in the issue of public security and in the field of formal education, for example. “Art and culture can face many of our education problems, such as functional illiteracy, with much more power and in a much shorter period, requiring fewer resources. And the focus for that has to be on participatory processes.”

After Saron's speech, Fabio Szwarcwald told a little about his work at the head of the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, in Rio de Janeiro, where he has been since 2017. The economist and collector, who worked in banks for 22 years, took over the direction of EAV 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. To tell about the process of restructuring the School, Szwarcwald also took up some of its history.

“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 academic schools that existed. So we are a free school from the beginning and we understand that in order to be free, the school needs to be able to finance itself, pay its own bills”, he said. “So all my work was to rescue this autonomy, this freedom of action that is so important nowadays”.

The economist said that, for this purpose, the EAV was divided into four major nuclei: education; diffusion; search; and public education, all of them seeking to bring people closer to the institution and thinking of new ways to bring in resources. In addition, through an association of friends responsible for the financial administration of the School, the equipment – ​​even if belonging to the Secretary of Culture –, can protect itself from bad weather such as the one that triggered its crisis.

“And the idea was to open up the school as much as possible because, as Saron said, many times we who work with art talk only to ourselves. And that's too bad because people create a misconception that art is very elitist, it's for the few,” Szwarcwald continued. “And we, as a school in the middle of the south zone of Rio, had to open up to the periphery. In other words, opening up to society because it is society that will give us the strength to resist, maintain and even provide financial support.”

In terms of teaching, the director says that the charity nights were very important to rescue the training program – which had, in 2018, 500 applicants for 25 vacancies. “This program is fundamental for the development of our students and it has to be free, because we want to bring these students who would not be able to pay for a course”. Other initiatives in addition to sponsorships were the inclusion of EAV in art fairs – ArtRio and SP-Arte –, with works provided by important artists; an unprecedented partnership with Universidade Candido Mendes, bringing the paid curatorship course taught by Paulo Sergio Duarte; and the creation of two stores, EAV and PA.GÉ, with profits transferred to the School. This year, the institution also approved an annual plan of R$ 8 million in the Cultural Incentive Law.

By accepting to receive the exposure Queermuseu – ended after a smear campaign at Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre and censored by Marcelo Crivella at MAR –, Parque Lage organized a crowdfunding campaign that raised over 1 million reais to set up the show. “This also revealed the revolt of society to see, in the middle of 2017, an exhibition with 250 artists being censored in Brazil. And it was important to place the school again as a center of resistance and diffusion of the arts in a plural way”, stated Szwarcwald.

The director also spoke about the training program for public school teachers, about Parquinho Lage, a school for children, and the extramural partnerships, with classes in Maré, in CIEPs and in a program with friends from the city hall. “We started in 2017 with 600 students, went to 3 thousand in 2018 and this year we have more than 6000 students, 90% of which are free of charge”, he summarized about the EAV numbers. “People were very nostalgic for the school in the 1980s generation, for its role in the past, and now we are again seen, attended, as a result of a job of facing challenges, knowing the difficulties and setting new goals”, he concluded. .

Finally, the last to speak was the curator and director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, Jochen Volz, who began his presentation by citing a curious fact for the current times: “In the first six months of 2019, 30 museums that were heard by a newspaper had a 30% increase in attendance. This is extremely interesting because it goes against what we could expect at this moment of crisis. So for me a first question, in a museum like the Pinacoteca, is trying to understand what kind of situation we are living and how to react to it”, said Volz.

“And these are times of radicalization, on the one hand, where everything is polar and dual – good and bad, right and wrong – but on the other hand there is something that is the opposite, something that Guilherme Wisnik described very beautifully in the book Inside the fog. Which is that big fog, in which we realize that in fact everything we knew might not be enough. And that we are at the moment when narratives that we thought were linear are not enough. There is not one story, but many stories.”

For the curator, the challenge in this context goes beyond issues of financial situation and management, and focuses especially on the relationship with the public. "It's the public who will protect us and, obviously, the artists." Based on these findings, Volz spoke about a specific exhibition presented at the Pinacoteca, entitled We are Muit+s: Experiments on collectivity, which also started with the questioning of how to create ways to reflect with the public, “including those who are across the street and have turned their backs on culture”.

“And we believe that the place of art is to generate imagination about other ways of living together, other ways of imagining a democratic coexistence, that really manage to face the great challenges of our time”. The exhibition was based on the work and thought of two key historical figures for thinking about participation in art: Helio Oiticica and Joseph Beuys. “Beyus already said that in the 1970s. That art is not a means to something. It is the place of imagination. It has an economic value not because of what it yields, but because creativity has an economic value in itself. Without creativity, all material goods are worthless. Because if we don't imagine how to use, how to leverage, how to share, this material value is not enough", said Volz, also saying that the idea of ​​building a cultural life, including cultural equipment, goes through a collective process that demands participation.

According to him, Oiticica proposed, in other words, the same idea about participation, or even “about the choice of non-participation as an active act in the construction of meaning”. Based on the works of these two artists, the show brought together other contemporary works. Among them is that of Rirkrit Tiravanija, who occupies the Pinacoteca's octagon, on which Volz lingered a little longer. Untitled 2019 (demo station n.7) “It's an open stage, too high, you can't see anything from below, it's dysfunctional. But for those at the top, the view is wonderful. Then there is a role reversal. Who's watching who? So it’s a work that talks a lot more about power, about the relationships between us together,” she said.

Based on the instruction to activate the stage as much as possible, the Pinacoteca invited several partners to act there, such as the collective Legitima Defesa, Casa do Povo and JAMAC, among others. “But that was just the beginning. We had a total of 90 performances, with almost a thousand people actively participating. And it's not about the turnstile, about high numbers, but a proposal to think about who speaks, who has space to speak in this institution. Because the idea of ​​thinking that we are together is already a privilege. Something that exists for a European, white and man like, but not for many others. So this exhibition reflects on that. The idea of ​​thinking about who has the power of speech and which voices need to conquer this space”, continued Volz.

This means, according to him, that the Pinacoteca (and other institutions) need to put themselves in this position of listening, of listening, of celebrating diversity and “to understand that perhaps our privilege is to be able to offer an open stage”. “We had, for example, an evangelical band, and the museum was full of people who don't usually go there. And this is very important, because if we cannot create this identification, how is it that, if political or censorship situations tighten even more, are we going to believe that we will be defended by people, including those who are not usually interested in culture?”. “So it's a process that we don't know yet how it's going to go, but it's important to celebrate this idea of ​​a living museum, and that means everyone's participation,” concluded Volz.






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