Held on the 21st of October, in São Paulo, the seminar Cultural Management: Contemporary Challenges discussed essential issues about management in current times, in a context of political and economic crises experienced in the country. 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 presents real challenges to managers and different agents of culture and contemporary art. Extraordinary flexibility is needed, a broad, democratic and ethical vision capable of understanding the demands of 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, director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, began with a speech by Edward 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.
According to him, while society questions the need for public investment in culture and the government tries to criminalize artists, “the world of culture rarely crosses the street to establish empathy with the other field”. Based on this diagnosis, Saron proposed an analysis of what happened in Brazil in the last 20 years, a period largely characterized by economic growth centered on the commodity boom and on the strengthening of state-owned companies as sponsors of culture.
“And a policy very focused on the issue of democratization of access prevailed. That was the key idea when Lula took over, for example.” 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.
The discourse of democratization ended up legitimizing culture as an “instrument and mechanism”, not as an end in itself. “And we didn’t know how to make the leap to the true role of the arts in transforming society.” For Saron, culture itself must be located as a field of transformation, and democratization is not enough for that. This is where the word “participation” comes in, which by proposing “a field where we bring the individual into action, 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 democracy” cultural".
“And then 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. ” In this way, art and culture can face many of society's problems, such as education and public security, with greater power and speed than other public policies, including at lower costs, he concluded.
After Sharon's speech, Fabio Schwarcwald 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 in his council, and in a period of deep crisis in the institution with the withdrawal of financial transfers from the State.
“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, with this in mind, EAV focused on a rapprochement with the public, in addition to reinforcing the activities of the association of friends responsible for the financial administration of the School. “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 we 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.”
Through sponsorships; charity nights; the inclusion of EAV in the ArtRio and SP-Arte fairs, with works provided by various artists; an unprecedented partnership with Universidade Candido Mendes, offering a paid curation course; and the creation of two stores, EAV was able to get back on its feet. This year, the institution also approved an annual plan of R$ 8 million in the Cultural Incentive Law. “This was all very important to rescue the training program, free of charge, and fundamental for the development of our students. And we increasingly want to bring in these students who would not be able to afford a course”.
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 mount 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”, said Szwarcwald.
The director also spoke about the training program for public school teachers, about Parquinho Lage, with classes for children, and the extramural partnerships, with classes in peripheral areas of Rio. “We started 2017 with 600 students and this year we have more than 6 thousand, 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 curator and director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, Jochen Volz, began his presentation by citing a curious fact for the current times, which shows that in the first six months of 2019, 30 Brazilian museums had a 30% increase in public. “This is extremely interesting because it goes against what we could expect at this time of crisis. So for me, in a museum like the Pinacoteca, you have to try to understand what kind of situation we are experiencing and how to react to it.”
According to him, in times of radicalization, in which everything is polar and dual, one can also perceive “something that is the opposite of that, something that Guilherme Wisnik described in a very beautiful way in the book Inside the fog. Which is that big fog, in which we realize that everything we knew might not be enough anymore”, said Volz. “And that we’re at a point where narratives that we thought were linear aren’t enough, because there are many stories, not just one.”
For the curator, the current challenge goes beyond finance and management issues, and focuses especially on the relationship with the public. “It is the public who will protect us.” Based on these findings, Volz spoke about a specific exhibition presented this year at the Pinacoteca, entitled We are Muit+s: Experiments on collectivity, which 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”. “Because we believe that the place of art is to generate imagination about other ways of living together, other ways of imagining a democratic coexistence.”
The exhibition was based on the work and thought of two key historical figures for thinking about participation in art: Joseph Beuys and Helio Oiticica. “Beyus already said 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”, said the curator, noting that the construction of a cultural life must go through a collective process of participation.
Based on the works of the two historical artists, the show brought together other contemporary works, including that by Rirkrit Tiravanija – Untitled 2019 (demo station n.7) –, which occupied the Pinacoteca’s octagon with “an open stage, too high, dysfunctional, that you can’t see anything from below. But for those on top, the view is wonderful”, said Volz. “So there's a role reversal, it's a work that talks a lot more about power, about the relationships between 'us together'.”
To perform on this stage, the Pinacoteca invited artists and collectives such as Legítima Defesa, the Casa do Povo choir and JAMAC, among many others. “We had a total of 90 performances, with almost a thousand people actively participating. And it's not numbers that I'm talking about, but a proposal to think about who has the space to speak in this institution. The idea of thinking about who has the power, breaking the privileges, thinking about which voices need to conquer these spaces”, continued Volz.
This means, according to him, that institutions such as the Pinacoteca need to be 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”. “If we can't create this identification, how is it that, if political situations or censorship tighten even more, are we going to believe that we will be defended by people, including those who are not usually interested in culture?”, concluded the curator.
Artists benefited from good management
After the debate with the managers of institutions, the second table of the seminar brought together two artists, Gabriela Noujaim and Jonathas de Andrade, and two specialists in cultural management and creative solutions, Ana Carla Fonseca and Katia Araújo de Marco Scorzelli. first to speak, Noujaim, who has a degree in engraving from the Escola de Belas Artes da UFRJ, spoke about the importance of the free courses she took over the years at EAV Parque Lage, with professors such as Dionísio del Santo, Evany Cardoso, Anna Bella Geiger and Fernando Cocchiarale. “They were fundamental to my formation as an artist. And if they weren't free, I wouldn't be able to do it”, she highlighted.
In addition to presenting his work, which deals with the body, memory and ancestry and raises political questions about indigenous and environmental causes, Noujaim entered the topic of cultural management when talking about his ten-year experience with projects sponsored by the cultural centers of Banco do Nordeste . Through the institution, the artist carried out more than a dozen projects in the region. “It was essential to get to know the interior of the country and our culture”.
“These cultural centers, directly linked to the federal government, also support some cultural points in smaller cities. And they are currently facing a lot of difficulties, they are at risk,” she said. “And I consider the permanence of these centers essential, because in these cities they are the only existing cultural movement, which provides access to theater, cinema, contemporary art and free art workshops.”
The second to speak was the artist from Alagoas Jonathan de Andrade, which highlighted the importance of scholarships, incentives and residencies in its trajectory. “I am completely clear that if I were starting out in this current situation, I would have much more difficulty developing myself as an artist,” he said, referring to what he called a “process of scrapping and cultural dismantling that we are experiencing today in Brazil”.
Jonathan, who participated in the 7a Mercosur Biennial, from the 32a Bienal de São Paulo and did residencies in several countries, told about his trajectory in the arts that started at the end of the Social Communication course at UFPE. His first photography exhibition, mounted at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco after a selection process for young artists, also resulted in a publication financed by Funcultura. “At that moment, when I was trying to understand myself as an artist, all the incentives, grants and public possibilities were fundamental in the unfolding of things.”
Jonathas' first exhibition in São Paulo, in turn, took place at Itaú Cultural itself, and over the years the artist has had support from Banco Real, Funarte and biennials, among others. “And this makes me think that it is urgent that both institutions and companies that have conditions develop programs focused on the arts”. “At this critical moment we have ecological disasters, genocides and a series of urgent issues. But, to think of culture as an articulator of all this, to give this country a real breath, I think supporting the arts is also urgent, because we are dealing with memories that persist”, he concluded.
The next presentation was Ana Carla Fonseca, Master in Business Administration and Doctor in Urbanism from USP, adviser to the UN and the IDB on creative economy and cities. She spoke especially about her work with Garimpo de Soluções, a company she runs alongside Alejandro Castañé, focused on the creative economy, business solutions and city development.
Fonseca presented five examples of projects developed or monitored by the company, including the contest held to select innovative visual identities for sardines in Lisbon. The process, which exemplifies how it is possible to work with the traditions and intangible heritage of a place in an original way, had repercussions in the local economy in different ways. An old ceramics company, for example, started to produce crockery stamped with the illustrations selected in the contest, creating a new and profitable branch of the market.
Fonseca also spoke about the work of the Cuban company Habaguanex, which for more than 20 years has helped to revitalize buildings in the historic region of Habana Vieja through a careful project of heritage management; a pizzeria in Mexico that created a hybrid business model, in which every five pieces of pizza sold the company allocates one to homeless people with drug problems; and a Chilean company that, working simultaneously with ancestry and technology, created loudspeakers made of clay structure, using traditional techniques.
Last participant to speak, Katia de Marco she briefly presented the work of the Associação Brasileira de Gestão Cultural (ABGC) – which, in addition to focusing on teaching, assumes a role of militancy in cultural causes –, of which she is founder and president, and raised questions about contemporary challenges. Katia, who is also the coordinator of the postgraduate course in cultural and social studies at Universidade Candido Mendes and director of the Antonio Parreiras Museum (Niterói), highlighted the marked differences between the first two decades of the 21st century in terms of the cultural field in Brazil. .
“We started the century in a very promising way, with many hopes, having this binomial culture and development in a very open and very free way”, he said. “Culture emerged at that moment in its expanded dimension, interacting with different layers of knowledge, of instrumental life, in exchange with the economy, as a support for development policies, as a channel of communication between different fields.”
In Brazil, according to her, this was reflected in the work of the Ministry of Culture, based on a humanistic and social vision. From there, she traced an overview of some ideas, concepts and events that illustrated this period, in a context of bankruptcy of the neoliberal model at the end of the 20th century. ideas of sustainability, technology, management, citizenship, well-being and inclusion. In this transition there is also a need for action and empowerment of civil society, as explained by the president of ABGC. “This was before the humanistic blackout that we are experiencing in this second decade,” she commented.
Considering the social, environmental and political issues that spanned these two decades of the 21st century and led to the current obscure scenario, phenomena such as the scarcity of resources, the chaotic growth of cities, terrorism, migratory flows and the rise of the extreme right emerge. . “And in this scenario, to think about the future of the planet, it is necessary to create exits, alternatives, new institutionalities, new business models and concepts”, said the professor. The answers often come from the artists, “if we think that art is like a radar that foresees and at the same time reflects its time”.
“One thing that seemed unthinkable, and that we are experiencing, is this authoritarianism with an appeal to censorship in art. And this is impacting the cultural environment so much because in Brazil about 70% of cultural facilities are linked to public management, to governments. And then we think that maybe it's time to detach a little from the State, create mechanisms of autonomy in artistic institutions”, defended Katia. Solutions such as endowments, for example, emerge, among other alternatives for “this moment when we no longer have that atmosphere of the first decade of this century, of culture being expressed in inclusive cultural policies and socialization”, she concluded.