André Sturm received the report from pageB! in your office
André Sturm received the report from pageB! in his office (Photo: Coil Lopes)

Literature critics say that the size of the book War and peace it is explained by the time it took Lev Tolstoy to finish it. The author's first drafts and manuscripts date from 1856, but the first part of the novel was published in a serial in the newspaper. TheRussian Herald in 1865. The complete book was not published until 1868.

As São Paulo's Municipal Secretary of Culture, André Sturm didn't even need nine months to create a narrative worthy of the Russian novel, in which its war and peace aspects took center stage in the news. The latest episode promises new chapters. In the name of tolerance and respect for the city's cultural institutions, such as the Museum of Modern Art (MAM), which had employees attacked after attacks on the internet, Sturm declared a symbolic confrontation against his own boss, Mayor João Dória.

“My opinion is that freedom is the greatest value of democracy. I do not agree with any violence and assaulting MAM staff or threatening to destroy the exhibition is unacceptable. It is up to managers to inform about the content of what they present and MAM did that”, he said, in a video published on his social networks, about Dória's condemnation of exposure at MAM.

Boni- Dória's first choice
Boni: Dória's first option (Photo: Reproduction)

Since the beginning of his tenure, he has seen his name plunged into a series of heated discussions. The first one was in his own choice for the position, which occurred to the detriment of Boni, an executive at Globo and first name invited by Mayor João Dória to the post. The negative reaction to the possible appointment of Boni led the mayor to choose Sturm for the post – without a doubt, a name much better accepted in the area of ​​culture than the director of the carioca station.

“Regardless of Boni, I think I'm a person who has a history in Culture. A person who was invited by my story”

“I have always been a militant of culture, but from the other side”. Former director of the Museum of Image and Sound (MIS) and filmmaker, the current secretary said that he was not frightened by the invitation, precisely because of his long trajectory in the area of ​​cultural policies. He also admits that he anchored himself in “three decades of militancy” to believe that resistance to his name would not be so great. Read mistake.

Shortly after his appointment, at the beginning of the year, the City Hall froze the municipality's cultural budget at 43,5%, which generated several protests from artists and activists. The pass-through to the sector became the lowest among all the folders. Street demonstrations, letters of repudiation from various artistic sectors and even occupation of the Secretary of Culture building were episodes that occurred in response to the cuts.

When the dust settled, more confusion. At the end of May, Sturm threatened to attack cultural agent Gustavo Soares, 25, during a meeting held at the headquarters of the Municipal Secretary of Culture. The secretary's lack of control was recorded by Gustavo himself. "I'm going to break your face," Sturm told the boy more than once.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, but… [It was] clearly orchestrated.”

secretary occupation
Occupation of the secretariat in reaction to budget cuts and the episode of threat against an agent (Photo: Brasil de Fato)

A little over a month ago, he reflected on these and other controversies in an exclusive interview for the page B!, in his office in the building of the Secretary of Culture.

Under the watchful eyes of his press advisors, who followed the interview and interrupted the conversation a few times to “complement information”, Sturm was receptive and proposed to discuss calmly: is the culture scenario in São Paulo to break the face?

Read the full interview:

It is his first major experience as a public manager, in an important secretariat. Are you already comfortable in this new position you are experiencing?

Look, it didn't take nine months for me to feel comfortable. I had some experiences in the public sector, not as a secretary, but I was always a militant of the culture on the other side. In cinema, for 30 years I was part of all associations, I've fought, I've fought, I've fought. So, I know a lot about this world of public power on the other side and a little bit on this side. Of course, being a secretary has that weight you mention. There are people who find you and don't call you by name, but by secretary. But I'm still the same person, honestly. So, it didn't change much for me because it didn't give me that weight, right? Of course we had a period of turmoil, but it has nothing to do with that side you're asking, so I'm fine with it.

Can you be proud of the work you are doing?

[The work is] Very positive. I think we managed to maintain practically all the programs that existed in the secretariat, not necessarily from the previous administration, there are some that came even longer. We did it with a very small resource, right?

We had a big initial freeze, yet we managed to maneuver what we had. Some have slowed down a bit, but they've been maintained. I am very critical of this attitude that, when a new management starts, everything they had was bad and they have to start from scratch. So, we kept the training programs, support programs, several others and implemented some new things, like the Living Library, which is a process, not something that is done overnight. We are making an access policy, which I think is very important. All the secretariat's equipment has a schedule every weekend, something that didn't happen before. This with all languages, which mix artists from the region with better-known artists, in order to mobilize the public more.

I think we managed to do a lot, and when I still consider all the mishaps we had, all the energy we gave off with clashes, which I even consider a good part of them wrong, I think we managed to accomplish a lot. We waste a lot of time on fights. And you see, dialogue is one thing, clash is another. Dialogue is part of it. The opposite, the contradictory, is part of it. And that's not a waste of time, it's important. Since I took over I was willing to dialogue, making open meetings with all languages. Since January 19th, every week I go to a neighborhood, meet people and see how they are doing, and that's not a waste of time. I'm talking more about the violent things that happened.

Municipal Theater - the city in the theater?
Municipal Theater: the city in the theater? (Photo: Publicity)

To close the first part of this nine-month evaluation, do you think that these new programs are already able to give the secretariat a little of your face, of your vision? Can you already feel that it's not just maintenance of old programs?

I think so. We managed to implement this policy of opening more cultural spaces, the libraries that were not open on Sundays, which for me is nonsense. Slowly they are acquiring public, it is growing. The policy we did at Theatro Municipal, I think is also a highlight.

We did more shows in 6 months and had more audiences than last year, with much less investment in programming. We suspended the international programming and valued the in-house artists. Unlike practically all municipal theaters in the country, we do not fire an artist, they are all 'selected'. We expand the audience. Theatro Municipal has the management, we give the directive. In a program, without mischaracterizing it, with a program of classical music, generally speaking, but with concerts that attract the public, even informal concerts, which take place once a month. The municipal program to take children on Saturday, the series of concerts and the public at them that was a success, in short…

Making the Municipal [Theatro] something I talked about since the beginning: “The city in the Municipal”, which I think we are reaching, and the “The Municipal in the city”, which is also taking the bodies of the theater to other places. in the city. We have already taken string quartet, part of the orchestra, part of the ballet, in various cultural houses and cultural centers. So I think that's also important, right? We bring quality things to everyone. We made unpublished funding notices. Reggae edict, music edict, for example. I didn't know that reggae was a culture, I thought it was a musical style. I met the people, the movement, we dialogued. We did the reggae edict, the music edict, which had not happened. A circus edict, a little different, but negotiating and talking to them.

About this initial turmoil of his management. Do you consider that you are already overcome or do you still feel an animosity? After a while, you calmer to analyze all the issues, was it really a chase, something orchestrated, or did you see some legitimate complaints? How do you analyze today with a cooler head?

It was something I can't understand, honestly. I've thought about it a lot, but… [It was] clearly orchestrated. I think they had three elements. There was a group that actually wanted to take me down, for reasons I don't understand. Without false modesty, I have a history in the culture. I'm not a person who was put here because I'm someone's friend. I wasn't even a friend of the mayor. He invited me for my work at MIS and at Cultura de São Paulo. I didn't campaign. So I thought it would get a better reception. There were people with partisan political interests and who wanted to attack City Hall as a whole and I became a target too. I think there were groups that had interests in the secretary and decided to attack, betting that the secretary would be cornered.

And was there a fourth group that was right back then? Or do you think everyone was wrong?

I'll tell you… On January 19th, I wasn't even three weeks old. So I hadn't done anything. I went to the Youth Cultural Center. I marked it. The coordinator of the cultural center was from the PT's youth. He came from the past administration. I didn't fire him. He kept his entire team. All PT militants. Why did I keep? Because I got good information from his work. I am not party. My party is culture. When I joined here, we kept more than 90% of the staff. I changed the office and some coordinations.

On January 19, I called the CCJ (Cultural Youth Center) and made an appointment with the coordinator saying: “I'm going there. It invites the artists, the spectators… I want to hear”. I went there thinking that I would be attacked by the PSDB militants, because I had left the “enemies” in the CCJ. To my surprise, there were over 100 people. I spoke a few words, they made a line of inscriptions to manifest. And for every three people, two screamed and accused me of not having dialogue. They demanded dialogue and said that our policies were all calamitous. But it was January 19th. And a young man, who made a very violent speech, sat in front of me, and every time I answered he interrupted me. At one point I politely asked him to stop interrupting me.

Artists from downtown and outskirts complained about cuts in the Culture budget
Artists from the center and the periphery complained about the cuts in the Culture budget (Photo: Independente Jor)

At the end of the event, everyone spoke. I ended up thanking you and such. When I turned around, the boy was two inches from my face, threatening me. And I said, "Look, if you want to talk more, you make an appointment with the secretary." I turned around and when I turned he was yelling that I had turned my back on him. It was the 19th of January. This boy, coincidentally, was one of the leaders of the invasion at the secretariat. He was the guy who wanted to lynch me at City Hall. So you can't say… Again, of course we make mistakes. But on the 19th of January I had made no mistakes.

The following week, I went to the Guaianazes Library. When I got there, about 10, 12 cultural activists and activists showed up, very tough. But, dialoguing, charging, charging and charging. One of the things they charged was that there was no culture house in Guaianazes and they wanted one. I said: “Look, right now there's nothing”. Then they said that there was a house of culture that had been under renovation for I don't know how many years. I didn't know. I came back here, found that the house was almost ready and had it fixed. Ai, one of the boys who was in that group was involved with cinema and commented that there was a cinema movement in Guaianazes. I called him to talk here, I found it super interesting, we even scheduled the other secretary and me. Listen to the cinema from the periphery. I invited this young man to be the coordinator of the culture house, which we opened a month later. In other words, he was from that group, he was connected to the PT.

When I speak linked to the PT, it is not because the world is divided into PT and PSDB. It's just to say that here I don't ask anyone's side to assemble a team. He seemed like an articulate boy, he was active in the cinema, he was there to talk. On opening day, I went and took the mayor. We got there and so the mayor had to leave. Because people shouted, yelled, howled and insulted him. The same people who had gone that day, asked to open the house of culture. The guy I'd named had arranged the demonstration with the guys. I mean, I went there, they asked for the house of culture, I opened the house, named a friend of theirs, and people attack and offend.

Guys, I hadn't done anything. The only concrete thing we had was that our budget was frozen at 43%. Was it me who froze the culture budget? No

How did this case end? Is that coordinator still there?

No, clearly not. The guy agrees, at the opening of the event, to put upside down banners all over the house and that by the time the mayor arrived they would be flipped… He participated in that, right? So, it's a shame. I say it again, of course we made mistakes, but this movement started very early. At the beginning of February I had a meeting with the theater. Day 5 or 7, something like that. We arrived there, at the São Paulo Cultural Center. We got there and it was a burden! They had about 700 people. We walked in, I took the mic and said good night. Everyone started booing. I couldn't speak. Then the president of the Cooperative asked to let it speak. All the demonstrations were that we were dismantling the culture of São Paulo.

Guys, I hadn't done anything. The only concrete thing we had was that our budget was frozen at 43%. Was it me who froze the culture budget? Not. Was it me who agreed to freeze the culture? Not. So then. Or was it something… No one is silly.

When his appointment took place he had a much more positive reaction than he would have had if it had been Boni's. Does it surprise you that at the beginning there was such a strong reaction?

Regardless of Boni, I think I'm a person who has a history in Culture. A person who was invited by my history in the culture. And that, initially, there was a favorable manifestation. I travel in all clusters, so it was a shame. You talked about the day I said I was going to break the boy's face, and it was the day I lost my head... I lost my head once, which was on that day. That was late May, early June. It was on a Monday.

The previous Friday, I had been called to a public hearing in the Chamber by councilor Toninho Vespoli and I went. I don't have to go, but I did, knowing I was going to hear swearing. I spent an hour and 40 minutes being offended. Every person who took the microphone offended me. What can you imagine I was offended. Personal and professional offenses. They told me that I hated children, that I didn't like the poor, that I was elitist. This is personal. Among others. When the insults were over, it was my turn to speak, I spoke for a minute and they started yelling. Then I told the councilor who presided, who was Toninho and said: “Sorry, I need to leave.” He ended the event, I waited for him to end it and got up to leave. When I went out, a good group of people had gathered near the door. Luckily, there were several security guards.

So, these security guards did this, they blocked a wall and I went out. That's when one of the security guards said, "Secretary, run." I ran out and people ran after me, yelling “take it, take it”. This is on the internet because they recorded it themselves. One person said, "I want to shoot him in the face." That day, I really confess to you, I was pretty shaken up. I was locked inside a room for thirty minutes, with people roaring outside, threatening me. One security guard saying to go down to the parking lot, the other saying that he couldn't, because they had already surrounded the parking lot. It's a lot of violence. I think I was really tense only once because, you know, everyone has blood.

Get out of these more institutional relationships a little bit. I wanted to understand your opinion on some topics, they are quicker questions. There's a bill in the Senate to criminalize funk. What is your opinion on this project and if you think funk has to be criminalized. 

Look, I don't know the project. So I don't want to say yes or no here. I think that funk, as a cultural movement and artistic expression, I am not in favor of criminalizing it. What happens at funk parties that is against the law already has a law that prohibits it, so in principle this is my position.

We did an interview with a rapper, who quoted a phrase of yours, I don't know if you remember, in which you talk about bringing artists from the periphery to the Municipal Theater, but then you say: “Not if he's a rapper, of course”. I wanted to understand a little of his view on the cultural importance of rap in the city of São Paulo. Do you look at rap and what comes to your mind?

I think rap, within Hip-Hop, which is broader, is a fundamental language. I recently, a month ago, appointed a Hip-Hop coordinator for the Secretariat – which is in the CCJ, coincidentally. We did a big Hip-Hop event, the Hip-Hop Celebration, there at CCJ. There were approximately 10 groups, including one from Campinas and from several regions of São Paulo.

I went there personally, I made a point of going. In an environment that we will say is not exactly a 'my class' environment, but to show my support, to show my respect for what was happening there. I have full support. We have two Hip-Hop houses that are coordinating people who are people connected to this, we made Hip-Hop Month, which was the biggest Hip-Hop month in the last 4 years. He was a little late, but that was about the time. And we are right now with one person to make a policy for Hip-Hop that is not just a month of Hip-Hop, but that it is all year round. On the heritage journey, there was also a Hip-Hop concert at the municipal theater.

About Virada Cultural, do you think of any substantial changes in relation to the Virada 2017 model? From my reading and the majority of specialized critics, there was an emptying of the center. The audience also seems to have gone well below the last. What are you thinking for Virada 2018?

People can have whatever opinion they want. Now, facts are facts. It is a fact that it rained from eight in the morning until late at night on Sunday. It rained cold and it rained nonstop. So, you can't compare, because the Virada lasts two days. We missed Sunday. Never in the history of the turn did it rain all day. We did this survey. The only time it rained at the turn, it rained at 4 pm, so it got in the way of the last events. It's unparalleled because of that. On Saturday, we were very successful.

To say that the center was empty does not correspond to reality. The center wasn't that full, and that's true. It was something we wanted. Not an empty turn, but that people could come to the center and have fun, and not like in other turns that became a nuisance, for people and for, eventually, those who pass through here. I was here until almost two in the morning. The center was very crowded. But full in a way that could move, without having 40 thousand people in one place, who then moved together. Virada was more spread out, we had 30 stages here in the center.

Apart from the rains, do you think it was ideal? What do you have to improve for next year?

Ideal not. I think we need to think, for example, about something that didn't work out, which was the Sambadrome. We made a very nice investment in programming and it didn't work out. It didn't work out because that's not the place for it. We will not repeat. But decentralization worked a lot. We had thousands of people in Grajaú, in Penha. So why did we do this? I have to say because I think it worked. I always heard a lot of people complain about Virada saying that it was a lot of money spent in one day. Indeed, many people came to the Virada and spent a whole year without returning to the center. What I thought: “Let's spend part of this money to try to make Virada's investment benefit all year”.

So, when I take people who have never been to the Penha Cultural Center and live nearby, the guy will come back during the year. We create and reinforce a cultural habit, we value equipment in this way. The Grajaú Cultural Center had an average audience that, today, is much higher. Two weeks ago we did a show at Pagode 27. There were 10 people. That's right. In the center we still need to consider some issues, but I think the idea of ​​not having big stages was right. We had technical problems, which we are working on to solve them, because it was all very short notice. It turned out that there was a bidding process, there were people who made a mistake in bidding and signed a contract at the last minute. We ended up having a flaw, but then it's not a flaw in the cultural project, it's a technical flaw that needs to be fixed. So I think the biggest change is the sambadrome, which is no longer part of it.

What do you think of the 2018 street carnival?

We held a publicized, open meeting, a public hearing in May, at the CCSP, there were 300 people, representatives of the big block, small block, traditional block, 'this' block, residents to complain about carnival. We heard a lot of things, we prepared a booklet, we made a booklet in public consultation, on the internet. Because I think it's very important to make this audience that you go, people go. But there are people who can't go.

When I put it up for public consultation on the internet, anyone can send their suggestion. This group sent a letter that had some suggestions that were incorporated into the list of suggestions. In the meantime, the mayor decided that the coordination of the street carnival should go through the secretariat of Regional Municipalities. So, we're going to take all this work that we've done, our booklet, all the suggestions that arrived. We have an opinion on the suggestions and we will deliver. Next year, the Secretary of Regional Prefectures will be fully operating. So I won't talk about next year because it won't be up to us anymore.

I wanted to understand a little about your relationship with Mayor João Dória. You said you didn't know the mayor until the election. Was your first conversation after he was elected?

He was. He invited me. He didn't know the mayor, but he knew who he was. One day I got a call saying he wanted to talk to me two days later. I went to meet him in his office, not even his office. He was very kind, said he admired my work and wanted to invite me to be Secretary of Culture.

Sturm and Dória did not know each other until the election (Photo: Disclosure)
Sturm and Dória did not know each other until the election (Photo: Disclosure)

And on a day-to-day basis, how is your relationship with him?

It is very good. The mayor has a quality to work with, which is the following: in nine months, every time I call, if he doesn't answer me right away, he calls back the same day.

I send him a WhatsApp the same day I have the answer. It could be yes, it could be no. But he gives you an answer. That's something that's cool, you have an answer and you get on with life. He doesn't like to hold meetings with a secretary, to stay… On the other hand, every 15 days, he has a meeting with all the secretaries, so you know what's going on, you have the chance to talk. It's a relationship that I think is quite good. He as the commander, shall we say, of the management.

Have you ever considered, in some way, the departure of the mayor, working with the vice-mayor making this relationship? Do you have a good relationship with Bruno Covas?

I have a great relationship. Bruno is a super friendly person, fun, tells jokes. A great person. I'm not making this assessment because every day is every day, I think the mayor is putting himself there, but it's not right either. Anyway, I think Bruno is a person, as I said, very affable and kind.

To finish, I would like to understand if you imagine yourself in another administration in the city hall, or maybe one day in the Ministry of Culture.

Look, quite frankly, it's not my life plan. I have a story, I had a film project that I was starting to develop, which I gave up to come here. I am motivated by the challenge of doing things that can be permanent and keeping the good things happening. I think this is a cool challenge. But I think it's kind of like military service, we dedicate some time of our lives to it and then go back to private life. The salary is low, the headache is great and there is bureaucracy. I like challenges, I'm very satisfied, again, but I don't have these plans in life, no. I'd rather go make a movie, or suddenly direct...

If João Dória invited you to be Minister of Culture, would you go?

(Laughter) That wasn't talked about, because he has to invite me first.


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