Daniel Santos de Miranda. PHOTO: Disclosure

Danilo Santos de Miranda, 76, is today one of the most active and influential figures in the cultural area in the country. Regional director of Sesc-SP (Social Service of Commerce) for 35 years, he promoted a huge expansion and qualification of the institution's work in the state of São Paulo, focused on culture, education, sport, leisure, food and environment. “This is what I broadly call sociocultural, this vast field that makes people more capable of understanding themselves, getting to know themselves, getting to know each other and getting to know the world around them, indispensable for a society that intends to improve, grow and develop", he says in an interview with ARTE!Brasileiros.

Such recognition of the action of Sesc-SP, which has just inaugurated a large unit in Guarulhos, was not enough to take it out of the sights of the Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) government, especially of his Minister of Finance, Paulo Guedes, who stated that he intends to “put the knife” in the S System. Comprised of several institutions – such as Sesc, Sesi, Senai and Sebrae – the system is financed by compulsory fees charged on the companies' payroll (in 2018 it had a budget of around R$ 17 billion ) and has public control through the Court of Auditors.

For Miranda, there has never been such a misunderstanding of the importance of Sesc's work since its foundation in the 1940s. . We have a lot of accumulated knowledge capital, a lot of baggage collected. You cannot come and say that you are going to cut here or there simply.”

More than that, the director-general of the institution, graduated in sociology and philosophy, says he is appalled by the lack of perception of the importance of knowledge, philosophy, science, research, study, arts and culture. Without all this, he says, there is a risk of forming a “super-materialized” country, where only what has practical and palpable results counts. “And this is the beginning of the debacle, the beginning of the end, because it means having a people without information, without knowledge and without effective participation in their history, in the knowledge of their roots, their origins, their destinies, their perspectives. And above all, it is a threat from an ethical point of view, because from there, the law of the strongest, the law of the most violent, applies. And then we will create a society of brucutus, which is very dangerous for the country.”

Read the full interview below.

ARTE!Brasileiros – Sesc has just opened a unit in Guarulhos. What is the importance of this opening for Sesc and for the city of Guarulhos?

Danilo Santos de Miranda – It is very important for the city, for the State, in short, for everything we do. It has been planned for some time, as well as others that we have in the pipeline, and it practically summarizes the action that Sesc carries out. Everything we do is there in Guarulhos. It is a very complete unit, eclectic, quite large, generous from a spatial and programmatic point of view. And it is in a city that has the second largest population in the state, after the capital, and that was lacking a unit with the characteristics that Sesc offers. So for us it's a huge meeting of interests. Our interest in expanding the institution's action and the city's enormous interest in having a Sesc that could serve its population and that of nearby cities as well. There is a very poor, peripheral population nearby that needs many things that we do.

There is a very strong environmental agenda in this unit. Is it something that Sesc is seeking to deepen?

There, we received the complement of an area that almost doubles our land, and which is aimed at a broad program of environmental education with schools in the neighborhood and the city, with the population and opinion makers. That is, thinking about the relationship with nature in general, thinking properly about the use of products that nature offers, whether for food, or for people's experience, for everything we have available. We will have workshops, meetings, debates and even the opportunity to carry out experiments with children with regard to production linked to nature, planting, harvesting and carrying out a very effective action.

Does this mean, therefore, that despite the threats of cuts in the S System, Sesc continues to work normally, without retracting its activities for fear of what may come?

Exactly. Of course we have an antenna very well connected to everything that is happening around us. But it is also clear that the most practical and objective way we have is to continue working and showing the importance and meaning of what we do for society, for the population, for the improvement of life. So we took this boat with the utmost naturalness, wanting to show people, whether those who attend or who currently make decisions in the country, that what we do is indispensable, essential for the population, for society and for the development of the own country.

This is a way, shall we say, of reaffirming our importance as an institution, not of saying that we make the best program in the world – it is not an institutional affirmation for vanity, that does not interest us – but simply of saying that the sociocultural field in general, this vast field that makes people better able to understand themselves, to know themselves, to know each other and to know the world around them, is essential for a society that intends to improve, grow and develop . So we have to understand this as something absolutely essential. And the way we have to do that is to continue our work, to carry on.

Sesc, and more specifically Sesc São Paulo, has a long and recognized work in the areas of Culture and Education. Culture and Education, precisely, are areas that seem to be quite threatened in the policies of the current federal government. How do you see this moment and what risks do you see for society with the new policies and proposals? 

I think it is very dangerous, above all, a manifestation that is heard in relation to knowledge, information, science, philosophy, sociology, as if they were enemies of a country that intends to develop, grow and improve for everyone. And also against the arts and manifestations of the symbolic in general, as if they were superfluous, unnecessary, unimportant things. This whole field that I call, very broadly and broadly, the sociocultural field, whether of knowledge or practices, is vital and essential. I hope that you realize more and more and better how dangerous is this assertion that knowledge, philosophy, science, research, study, the arts and culture are unimportant. This is very dangerous and means the formation of a super-materialized country, where only what has practical and palpable results counts. And this is the beginning of the debacle, the beginning of the end, because that means having a people without information, without knowledge and without effective participation in their history, in the knowledge of their roots, their origins, their destinies, their perspectives. And above all, it is a threat from an ethical point of view, because from there, the law of the strongest, the law of the most violent, applies. And then we are going to create a society of brucutus, which is very dangerous for the country.

In this sense, as you yourself said in a recent interview with FSP, there is a discourse that the institutions of the S System should focus mainly on the training of professionals, in what you called a “precarious economicist perspective”. Could you explain better what I meant?

Within the so-called System S, there are institutions dedicated to professional training, which have been necessary and important since the 1940s, which were created with this perspective. But there are also other institutions within the S System that are not for that, which work from the perspective of well-being, leisure, culture, inclusive and democratic sport – non-competitive sport, but which even paved the way for many professional athletes. , like Pele, for example. This is all part of our proposal as something inherent to our daily lives. And one thing that I think is fundamental, and I say without wanting to generate controversy, is that, if they know our work more deeply, if they effectively dive into what we do, from an educational point of view, they will probably not only respect and consider the resources that we consider adequate, or will even think about allocating more resources so that this can be done. Because this is, from our point of view, the great formation of the people, in a more integral, fuller way, where all aspects of the human being are taken into account. And then I'm not just talking about culture and education, but physical activities, food, health in general, the environmental issue, our relationship with ourselves, with others and with the society around us. All this is the essence of the educational process, which we try to do as completely as possible.

Sesc Pompeia, designed by Lina Bo Bardi and opened in 1982. PHOTO: Publicity

The plurality of opinions and artistic manifestations, respect for diversity and space for debates and disagreements are hallmarks of Sesc's activities. Would you say that this is a characteristic that bothers some of our rulers, who seem to have little appreciation for plurality and debate?

It might be. Diversity is essential in a plural society like ours. In any society, I would say. And, in this sense, contemplating the different languages ​​and all the issues that relate to diversity - regarding race, color, religion, sexual option, the way of seeing things, the visions about our history and politics -, all this is indispensable. And this variety is undoubtedly part of Sesc's original DNA. So diversity is in our essence, in our daily lives.

On the one hand, you speak of a misunderstanding of the work that is done by the institutions of the S System, of the role of art and culture. But there is also a perception, on the part of many members of this government, that cultural areas and universities would be left-wing niches, spaces of indoctrination, in a speech that cites a supposed “cultural Marxism”. Does this not mean that, more than a misunderstanding, there is even a clear choice of an enemy to be fought, so to speak?

It is true. And not only universities and entities are classified generically, but specifically professors, artists and intellectuals. Because these people committed to social analysis, with a broad vision of society in every way, the artist who has this vocation not only to create enchantment, enchantment, but also to point out questions and bring up discussions on very controversial, they do so with the intention of improving society. They start from the principle that society needs evolution. We have a big, immense and very serious problem in the country called inequality. This doesn't have to be right, left, or center. It is an objective, direct observation, it is there. So anyone with some sensitivity, with some knowledge, with some effort, by realizing this, becomes a person with attitudes, opinions and manifestations that are consistent with that point of view. It's natural, normal. If someone suddenly considers this a position against the state or a necessarily leftist position, that is a pointless rash.

It is a natural evolution of any society, not ours. Thinking about the need for equality as a basis for a better life for all is a natural thing. Is this communism? Is this Marxism? Is it demanding that everyone be equal? No, that's people wanting society to be better for everyone, not just for a few. So in this sense there is an attitude, in the cultural environment, of pointing out, contesting, polemicizing and even transgressing. And I'm talking here about transgressing from an aesthetic point of view, not from a legal and moral point of view. Things change. What would contemporary art be if Picasso at a given moment hadn't broken with the standards of the time and transformed his art into something absolutely revolutionary? And today, even, he is already seen as a man of the past… So from the point of view of thought in general, of aesthetics, there is a natural evolution. Or who deals, for example, with the discussion about gender, which is a much more current, present and necessary understanding – including now with the criminalization of homophobia.

Anyway, what I want to say is that it is something that society naturally evolves. It's no use opposing certain actions that come from society, because they naturally impose themselves, they go further. Even if there is no support for the world of culture, for artists, who cut the Rouanet Law, even if everything is vetoed, it will not end the country's culture. Because it's natural, it comes anyway, it comes like a flood on those who eventually think it doesn't matter. And it's probably those people who are against the culture and when they get in the car the first thing they do is turn on the radio to listen to a song. It is natural, they are consuming culture all the time, speaking a language, wearing clothes, eating in a certain way… and they do not realize that they are consuming culture all the time.

We were talking more about possible cuts in the S System, but you have now also talked about the reformulation of the Rouanet Law. There was still the withdrawal of sponsorship for cultural projects by public companies and other initiatives along these lines…

It's unfortunate. And inevitably society will react one way or another.

For the former minister of culture Juca Ferreira, nowadays those who work with culture are afraid, cornered. Do you notice this climate?

I notice the most varied manifestations. I notice that there is a fear, already with the many difficulties and concrete impacts. This creates a climate of great dissatisfaction. In my contact with universities, in the same way, I perceive this fear. On the other hand, I can say that I see some signs of goodwill. I had contact with some people in the government itself, at the Ministry of Citizenship's Department of Culture, who are attentive and well-informed, looking for ways to overcome the problems. So there's a certain contradiction in the whole, but maybe we have some way to find ways out in the future.

In this more purposeful sense, of looking for ways, how do you think there can be resistance to these threats to the areas of Culture, Education and the S System. Is it necessary to go public, unite, manifest?  

The first thing I think is that you have to speak up. I have been public when I can, as the person in charge of an institution that belongs to this “group of S”. I think we have to talk, discuss. In our case, despite ongoing discussions in the government, there has still not been an effective court decision, a decree, a law, a proposal…

Is it more of a discourse than a practice?

Yup. And if this becomes a practice I believe there will be a natural reaction – I'm not preaching anything, but I'm observing from the outside – from many people. And this reaction can unfold within parliament, justice, all the instances that the country has, to be able to clarify, deepen and make decisions in the most correct way possible. Because there is a programmatic issue, that is, the importance of the actions of these institutions, but in addition they have a very solid legal framework, which is not as easy to remove as if they were part of the State, because they are not. In reality, there is a lack of knowledge of this complexity, 72 those of history carrying out a very effective action throughout Brazil and in SP in a special way. So this has a lot of accumulated knowledge capital, a lot of baggage collected, so you can't just say that you're going to cut here or there simply.





1 comment

  1. What a wonderful interview!!
    Much admiration for the work of this unique man: Danilo Santos de Miranda!
    Congratulations for your work, dedication, lucidity and fight for Sesc, especially for São Paulo! It reveals a Brazil that goes and enriches us with hope for a better life! Thanks !

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