Cultural policy Brazil

Rio’s plans to be more than just the carnival capital

City culture secretary doubles budget with World Cup and Olympics on the horizon

The new favela cinema

RIO DE JANEIRO. The world’s carnival capital is on a mission to become its cultural heart too, with a major injection of cash and a rash of cultural initiatives.

Rio’s new culture secretary, Emilio Kalil, has doubled the city’s annual budget from R53m to R106m ($33.4m to $66.7m). “Rio lost a lot of its power when Brasilia became the capital, but it has a lot more money now, and the focus of the world is on us because of the World Cup and the Olympics,” said Kalil.

Last month he announced the creation of three new funds, for music, dance and cultural heritage, with a budget of around R18.5m ($11.6m). The money will go to projects throughout the city, including Rio’s economically deprived favelas. “We don’t want the favelas to be a separate community as though they belong to another city: they are part of our city and we have to give them the best we can,” said Kalil. A new movie theatre opened in the Morro do Alemão favela last December, and is “a major point of rebuilding this community,” he added.

Kalil also hopes to revitalise the Cidade da Musica, an enormous complex designed by Atelier Christian de Portzam­parc, on the city’s southern outskirts. It was commissioned a decade ago by the previous administration, but, thanks to poor management, the construction costs have rocketed from $48m to $300m—and work is still unfinished. “For ten years the city just put money in without any idea of what was happening inside. We just can’t leave it closed like it was nothing. It is the public’s money in the building, so we have to open it for the public,” said Kalil. He hopes to open the venue, renamed the Cidade das Artes, with a diverse programme of music, art and cinema, in 2012 and says it will be like a “mini Lincoln Centre. All kinds of arts will have their place there.”

So far, Rio’s residents have faith in their new culture minister. “The situation in Rio is very exciting at the moment. There is a high spirit in the city,” said artist Carlito Carvalhosa, who has his first US exhibition in the atrium of MoMA in New York this summer (24 August-14 November). The mood has been dampened slightly, however, by the cancellation of the Semana de Arte festival, curated by Brazil-born artist Vik Muniz, originally scheduled for May (see related article).

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