Eduardo Saron has been in charge of Itaú Cultural since 2002
Eduardo Saron has been in charge of Itaú Cultural since 2002

Highlight of the award, which will take place next Monday (26), in São Paulo, Eduardo Saron will be received by the Secretary of Culture, José Luiz Penna, as Cultural Highlight of the Year and for his contribution and encouragement to the diffusion of culture in the state, he will receive a prize of R$100 thousand.

Master in Administration and postgraduate in Cultural Tourism, the honoree adds experience in Cultural Management. Proof of this is its presence on the boards of MASP, SP Companhia de Dança and the National Council for Cultural Policies of the Ministry of Culture.

In an interview with PageB!, the Secretary of Culture of the state, José Luiz Penna, said he was happy to receive the news of the tribute to Saron as a Cultural Highlight. “His choice was unanimous by the Award board. His body of work is unbeatable, really dignified and fair the recognition of the institution [Itaú Cultural] and of himself”, he said.

Ao PageB!, Saron spoke about Brazilian cultural management. For him, the high turnover of ministers in the MinC, Ministry of Culture, is a considerable problem. “In 32 years, 20 ministers have passed through the ministry, an average of 1,6 per year. Remembering that, in this period, the portfolio came to be extinct during the Collor government and, more recently, at the beginning of the Temer government”, he explained. “This makes it very difficult to create a public cultural policy, with effective actions and strategic thinking”.

For the director of Itaú Cultural, investment in the portfolio should be a priority, and the success of public cultural policies could lead to a reduction in investment of resources in Public Safety and Health in the medium term.

Currently, the Department of Culture receives 0,27% of the state budget, “this represents around R$500 million. We need at least twice that”, said José Luiz Penna, secretary of the portfolio. Asked about expectations with the elections for state government, Penna said only that he hopes that “the growth of the Secretariat corresponding to society's expectations about culture sensitize public men”.

In 2017, Eduardo Saron completed 15 years at the head of Itaú Cultural. In an interview with the portal, he talked about what, in his assessment, worked or did not work in the management of the MinC and other institutions:

The Ministry of Culture has a high turnover of ministers, what is the impact of this on the creation and safeguarding of cultural policies?

The turnover in the Ministry of Culture is, in fact, high, which is not positive. In its 32 years of existence, 20 ministers have been there, an average of 1,6 per year. Remembering that, in this period, the portfolio came to be extinct during the Collor government and, more recently, at the beginning of the Temer government. The two longest-serving ministers were Francisco Weffort, who stayed for 8 years during the FHC government, and Gilberto Gil, who stayed for 6 years during the Lula government. This makes it very difficult to create a public cultural policy, with effective actions and strategic thinking.

What, in your opinion, would be a first step towards aligning ideas and reality in the construction of solid cultural policies that suffer less from this rotation?

Contrary to what is recurrent in the country, culture should be seen as a priority in public policies. As it assumes a central role, in the medium and long term, we will need fewer resources for public security and fewer resources even for health.

What is the role of Itaú Cultural in mediating culture and the population's access to it?

Itaú Cultural emerged two years after MinC and was, most likely, one of the first private Brazilian institutions to be created with a concrete objective and an agenda focused on valuing culture. As a first step, we worked firmly for the democratization of culture, seeking to guarantee access by all populations in all these Brazils that make up the country. Now, the step is to ensure the maintenance of democratization in Brazilian culture and to start building the values ​​of a Cultural Democracy, in which subjects, individuals assume the leading role in cultural policies together with institutions and public authorities. I believe that we will go a long way in this direction.

What names or institutions, today, bring good cultural projects to Brazil, in your opinion?

I wouldn't name just one. Almost two years ago, a group of more than 150 institutions from all over the country got together and formed the Brazilian Forum for Cultural Rights. This collective was fundamental in the return of the MinC, in the battle for the reformulation of the Rouanet Law and has been fighting for the resources that the public power should and should dedicate to culture. I strongly believe in the relevance and work of all the institutions, collectives and small producers that make up the Forum.

And who leaves something to be desired and why?

The institutions that cling to what I call the CEP – Turnstile, Spectacularization and Bridge – leave something to be desired. For some institutions, what is important is the number of people who pass through their turnstiles, thus increasing the distortion of what the democratization of access and the constitution of cultural rights really are. Of course, having an audience is critical, but it shouldn't be the only metric for everything. It is necessary to train the public, offer cultural training.

Spectacularization has to do with the commodity boom reducing culture merely to marketing projects that bet on allocating resources more to fireworks than to artistic production or cultural action. I'm not speaking against business and the entertainment industry, nor ignoring the importance of brands reputational leverage through culture, as they are also important for the cultural industry and good relationships. My point extends to the artificialization of projects in the name of selling and natural despair, putting the artist in the background.

Finally, the “p” of bridge and building. Commodities generated fiscal surpluses over bubbles and the public manager transferred a taunt from the rulers to the cultural world. The most important thing was to build bridges, instead of taking care of basic sanitation or other more structuring actions, but with little media impact. And then Brazil was faced with an important number of new cultural buildings, often forgetting the existing ones or even the sustainability of these new ones. Unfortunately, the commodity boom has passed and the CEP orientation has been met with the reality of the digital world and creativity, in which commodities are sarcastically antagonistic. Therefore, the turnstile, from the spectacularization and the buildings, did not resist.

Cases like the MAM and Queermuseum represent a risk to the freedom of expression and expression of other museums and artists or should they be thought of as isolated and specific cases?

Any extreme reaction, censorship and impediment to freedom of expression pose serious risks. In my view, the origin of these crises that we faced last year is the behavior generated by the algorithms of social networks, which put in contact only those who are in tune with each other. Museums have to dialogue with this and use events like these as learning. “The artistic class has to lead this debate in society, it has the challenge of finding a balance between freedom of expression and the defense of children and adolescents. Based on these events, we started to work to get to know the Statute of Minors, create a manual to self-classify the exhibitions and be able to correctly inform the public about the content of the shows they are going to see.

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