Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Brazil snippets

It may have been painful spending an evening with the SWP and what passes for the hard left in Brazil last night, but I did gain some interesting insights (although for all I know, it may well be common knowledge already).

Could it be that Sao Paulo's current mayor, Marta Suplicy, may be lined up for the ambassador's job in Paris if the October elections aren't too kind to her? If so that would be a result for her and probably more in keeping with her lifestyle, I would imagine.

Also, I was told that compared to Britain, Brazil's cultural infrastructure is not as developed. That may be no great secret. But I did ask my conversant what measures are being taken to both develop and modernise the existing system? And would it make much sense for Brazil's cultural authorities to follow the British model?

During the year I spent as adviser on cultural matters for the Lib Dems in Parliament I was struck by how frustrated many 'cultural entrepreneurs' were with the government for.

Form-filling, applying for grants and having to meet set targets managed to squeeze the creativity out of what is supposed to be an unbound and expressive sector. In the end only large galleries, museums and theatres have the individuals able to support these requirements, meaning that smaller 'cultural entrepreneurs' get shafted.

And trying to legitimise public spending on culture by ignoring the aesthetic side in favour of the benefits through health and education deaden the process somewhat.

So we haven't got it entirely right yet, even in this country. But as my interlocutor seemed to suggest, Brazilian cultural policy doesn't seem likely to change for now. At least it won't until the present minister, Gilberto Gil, decides whether he's a minister or a musician.

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