Incentive for artistic creation


Santo André, is a municipality in the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo. It is home to over 700,000 people spread out over an area of 175,000 square kilometres. Its diverse population is comprised mostly of middle- and working-class people, with approximately 40% of the total population employed. The population age ranges from 15 to 39 years old. Mortality rates are low: at 8 to 18 per 1,000 people, depending on the micro region, and there is an increasing elderly population.

The city boasts a high level of infrastructure with acceptable basic public health services, basic sanitation that serves almost 96% of the urban area, and waste collection, as well as up to 43% developed streets.

The culture sector has services and cultural spaces offered by the public, some private initiative spaces, like the SESC, and also spaces for independent cultural production, such as the Alpharrabio and Gambalaia.

Current government policies to foster and promote culture are insufficient for the size of the city. This is why it is important to constantly rethink wide-ranging and participatory actions, such as calls for projects. Santo André has 20 public spaces including theatres, cultural centres, and 12 extensive libraries. It also has the tourist centre of Paranapiacaba, recognised by the National Historical and Architectural Heritage Institute (IPHAN).

It is important to constantly rethink wide-ranging and participatory actions.

Santo André and culture

In the 1990s, Santo André owned the cultural complex of the Paço Municipal, comprised of the Municipal Theatre, Exhibition Hall, library, and auditorium, the Conchita de Moraes Theatre, and approximately 9 decentralized spaces called "CEAREs"(multipurpose education, sport, and culture spaces).

Previously, culture was under the Ministry of Culture and Sport, until the development of a Ministry of Culture alongside that of Education. As part of the cultural policy of expanding access to cultural life, cultural agents were hired through a process of public tender, and architectural sites were used as cultural spaces.

In this process, the Language Centre, the Casa do Olhar, the Museum of Santo André (1990), the Open Theatre School (ELT), and the Municipal Juni or Arts School - EMIA (in 1990), the Open School of Cinema and Video (ELCV, (2001), and the Open School of Dance (in 2004), as well as a cultural action project for different neighbourhoods, all of which did not exist beforehand.

Specifically, arts training projects address the city's history of major performance theatre groups (Escola de Teatro), and its drive to create spaces for poetic creation and encouraging critical thinking starting in childhood (Municipal Junior Arts School).

Individually the projects varied in terms of whether they were strengthened, supported, and interconnected. This is because of changes in municipal governments, and subsequently their priorities.

However, the primary focus should be on strengthening connections between these projects so that there is dialogue between them, they have a deeper involvement within the territories, and they remain contemporary. There must be consistency across current affairs, the arts, social participation, and personal development, without dismantling what already exists in the city, where there has evidently been a lot of respect for public investment in recent decades and the successes of the population.

Concern for contemporary issues has always been present. Today, this is most obvious in schools, where issues like gender, race, feminism, consumerism, environmental and intercultural issues, among others, are constantly addressed in classrooms, meetings, or living spaces.

Therefore, the programme provides openness to these global issues by facilitating implementation of social movements, intervention in education plans, and promoting discussions and reflection. Education curricula are flexible and constantly reviewed to address the unique needs of each class and social changes.

Objectives and project implementation

Primary and specific objectives

If projects are seen as a type of training course for those involved, then each can eventually come to be accepted as a permanent part of cultural life. Indeed, training is more closely linked to the feeling of creating something new. New ideas spark imagination, which eventually take shape and become reality. Therefore, given the effect that training has on the creative process, training itself must be geared towards fostering artistic creation. The general objective is to support creative processes, creative autonomy, and collaborative practices for building knowledge.

Each project has its own unique design: the location, profile of participants, socio-political context, and even the arts-related language identify how each space has customized a plan that is both political and educational.

One of the largest obstacles to implementing the programme is integrating actions that occurred independently for years.

Overall, the specific objectives are: to use free school education; to work alongside integrated arts programmes, thereby expanding the concept of culture with modern individual or collective points of view; to facilitate the incorporation of new technologies and knowledge; to bring the participants of various artistic/cultural languages closer together; to reformulate the curriculum and educational structure more frequently, focusing on questioning, research, and experimentation; to promote collaborative processes related to the education plan.

Project development

Main actions carried out

Through its various projects, the programme has established several interrelated phases that reach different audiences across the city:

  • Awareness-raising for the artistic and cultural sectors (Territories of Culture and the School of Dance)
  • Arts education (Municipal Junior Arts School) School of Dance and Territories of Culture)
  • Stimulating original creation through intensive in-depth courses on specific languages in the dance, theatre, and cinema schools.

These phases can employ diverse strategies to achieve their goals such as courses, workshops, round-table discussions, reading circles, collaborative participation, reflections on culture management, and much more.

One of the largest obstacles to implementing the programme is integrating actions that occurred independently for years. Additionally, it is a challenge to ensure continuity with so much movement, without actions becoming anachronistic.

Since 2017, the Incentive for Artistic Creation policy is in the process of collective construction, which carries with it all of its work history and experience from previous projects. The city currently has the following:

  • Open Theatre School [Escola Livre de Teatro]: 250 students/year
  • Open School of Cinema and Video [Escola Livre de Cinema e Video]: 266 students/year
  • Open School of Dance [Escola Livre de Dança]: 350 students/year
  • Municipal Junior Arts School [Escola Municipal de Iniciação Artística]: 220 students/year
  • Territories of Culture [Territórios de Cultura]: 407 students/year


Impact varies according to each project. In the case of the Theatre School, for example, it is clear that culturally educated groups go on to become active in the city. Additionally, the project established positive impact and credibility in the national theatre community, attracting people from other cities and states.

In all schools, together with the Territories of Culture project, impact is widespread. It was noted that, in addition to individuals' and citizens' arts training, there is also audience training. It teaches students to become more than acting artists in that they are also frequent audience members or attendees for other spaces and other arts. There has also been an increase in cultural agents and groups as a result of the incentivisation projects for artistic creation.

Students become more than acting artists in that they are also frequent audience members or attendees for other spaces and other arts.


Since the beginning of 2017, the Ministry of Culture took the unprecedented initiative to collect, organise, and disseminate quantitative data on culture for the city. As a result, all programs, projects, and facilities have been continuously focused on collecting these data in order to develop assessment indicators. In fact, there are specific management guidelines for this incorporated into the structure of the Ministry of Culture. This helps support the development of indicators for ongoing evaluation by the municipal government.

In addition to these quantitative indicators, the projects have staff dedicated to qualitative assessment.

Key factors

These are the key success and lasting effects of the programme:

  • Widespread participation by students in discussions on the approach to education
  • Current discussion among members of the Federal ABC University (UFABC), and other cultural sectors, about the impact of the programme, which indicates that it is an important issue in local society
  • Positive impact on the media, finding openings for cultural products
  • Project partnerships for events like shows or festivals organised by schools
  • Recognition of the Open School of Dance (ELD) in 2006 by the Ministry of Culture in the Live Culture Programme as one of the six best Public Management projects of that year
  • A large number of artists in the region, and those emerging from these projects, have demonstrated active participation in the city's cultural life through public calls by the Ministry of Culture
  • Much of the Municipal Council of Cultural Policies is made up of former students from the Open Theatre School (ELT), the ELD, the Municipal Junior Arts School (EMIA), and the Open School of Cinema and Video (ELCV) who all actively participate in cultural life
  • Large numbers of cultural groups that have been formed over the years

Ongoing work

Although some projects are already established, proposals for the collective development of the incentive policy for artistic creation begins with general public discussions about the projects. The goal is to readjust and integrate them, while respecting the unique history and development of each one. In this way, projects will create a growing dialogue with the population and a relationship among the city's territories, increasing their role as fundamental parts of cultural development.

The programme's budget is the second largest within the Ministry of Culture, and there is a specific administrative structure for this called the Managing Incentive for Artistic Creation (GICA), with facilities, cultural spaces, and its own budget.

The Ministry of Culture is building a space that brings together all the current open schools into a Training Hub for Cultural Management and Production.

Further information

Santo André was a candidate for the second "UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award" (November 2017 - May of 2018). The jury for the award drew up its final report in June of 2016, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by:Vania Cristina Ribeiro, Manager of Incentive for Artistic Creation, Ministry of Culture for the Mayor's Office of Santo André, Brazil and by Luciana Zorzato, Manager of Cultural Projects, Ministry of Culture for Santo André, Brazil.

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Santo André