1. Brasilia and culture
The Federal District is home to 3 million people, and is made up of 33 administrative regions. More than 30 government-run cultural spaces were closed due to the pandemic, leaving thousands of people without work who are essential to culture and cultural activities in Brasilia, including: actors, singers, artists of all types, and technical staff. In less than a week, everything was closed due to the COVID-19 restriction measures, and people had to stop their regular activities. Culture was the first sector to be shut down, and the last to fully return to normal.
CULTURE CONNECT is an initiative by the Secretary of Culture and the Creative Economy to help cultural stakeholders through the following actions. First, virtual events were held such as the “Culture Tour” which broadcast the activities of different cultural spaces on YouTube, allowing the general population to enjoy museums and other spaces without leaving home. Then, when it became clear that the pandemic was going to continue for a longer period of time, there was a need to encourage and incentivize cultural workers by providing concrete support.
The Organic Law on Culture (LOC) is a pioneer approach that aims to regulate Brasilia’s cultural policies. It makes it possible to place culture at the centre of policies, and to develop an arts and culture system rooted in cultural rights. According to Culture 21 Actions, the project guarantees cultural access for the entire population. CULTURE CONNECT also seeks to “Enhance the role of cities and local governments as policy-makers and implementers, both with and for the inhabitants.” It is aligned with the Charter of Rome insofar as it aims to enable people to discover their roots a little more every day, to enable cultural stakeholders to create and share their art during the pandemic, and to enable the general population to enjoy all cultural productions at all times.
As a permanent strategy to promote the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Federal District, the GDF formally adhered to the 2030 Agenda. The importance of the project is directly related to Goals 4 (Quality education), 8 (Sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work), and 9 (Building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive industrialization and sustainable development, and fostering innovation).
The main goal of CULTURE CONNECTS was to help cultural stakeholders that were no longer able to work due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. Project goals and implementation
2.1. Main goal and specific objectives
The main goal of CULTURE CONNECT was to help cultural stakeholders that were no longer able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally, culture sector workers have uncertain salaries and working conditions. However, with the cancellation of events and quarantine measures, this uncertainty became critical. As such, the program was an enormous relief to this sector.
2.2. Project development
CULTURE CONNECT promoted actions that sought to help culture sector workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A series of calls for proposals were launched with the aim of allowing cultural stakeholders in Brasilia to work while cultural spaces were closed and events were cancelled.
There was even a subsequent call to award the city’s cultural stakeholders, which named 500 winners and offered a total of $2M BRL. Another sought to reward online activities, from training courses and online shows to web series and web channels. In the end, more than 100 projects were recognized. CULTURE CONNECT also offered financial support to cultural actors, such as the suspension of any payment installments.
Finally, the “Gran Circular Aldir Blanc” initiative was launched with extra resources for the cultural sector, dedicating more than $25M BRL to the largest projects and artists in Brasilia. From small awards of $4,000 BRL, to festivals awarded $50,000 BRL, the project made it was possible to truly support the city’s cultural actors.
The actions also included a special focus on women, vulnerable populations, the black community, and other minorities.
3.1. Direct impacts
The investment of $30M BRL into the cultural sector offered relief, and allowed it to survive until the end of the pandemic. In the end, everyone was able to continue working on their projects when everything returned to ‘normal’. The government’s relief actions were acknowledged and appreciated. With the training actions, that are still ongoing, the city was able to continue people’s professional development for the future. The actions also included a special focus on women, vulnerable populations, the black community, and other minorities.
The FAC Apresentações Online project selection received 107 online proposals, with a contribution of more than $2M BRL. Another public call, the FAC Brasília 60 Anos, recognized more than 500 cultural actors for their cultural contributions, offering them $4,000 BRL each. In 2021, the Festival Gira Cultura succeeded in training many artists and cultural actors with videos related to public heritage and other government policies, such as the Valuation of Graffiti, among others. In addition, a significant amount of digital content created by projects using resources from FAC (Fundo de Apoio à Cultura) were included in the Secretariat’s YouTube channel.
3.3. Key factors and continuity
CULTURE CONNECT was able to alleviate the economic pressure on cultural stakeholders, whether through direct aid, investment in projects, or artist training. The pandemic provided the opportunity to host virtual activities, which reached a large number of people. The hybrid format has now been standardized, with both face-to-face and online events.
CULTURE CONNECTS was able to alleviate the economic pressure on cultural stakeholders, whether through direct aid, investment in projects, or artists training.
4. Further information
Brasilia was a candidate for the fifth UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award (February - June 2022). The jury for the award drew up its final report in September of 2022, and requested that the UCLG Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices implemented under Agenda 21 for culture.
This article was written by João Roberto de Oliveira Moro, Deputy Secretary of Cultural Development and Promotion, Brasilia Federal District, Brazil.
Contact: joao.moro (at) cultura.df.gov.br