DICE: Developing Inclusive and Creative Economies Blog – Brazil
Written by Catherine Rogers
Chair of the board of trustees for Junction Arts
4th November 2018

Recently Junction Arts successfully applied with Advantage Creative for a Scoping Grant from the British Council to travel to Brazil to seek out partner organisations to collaborate with. The Scoping Grant was awarded as part of the British Council’s DICE Fund, providing grants to intermediary organisations, which support the development of creative and social enterprises. The Fund focuses on supporting enterprises to empower women and girls; foster youth employment; and promote disabled peoples and other marginalised groups inclusion and economic empowerment. Catherine Rogers is Junction Arts’ Chair and an Associate of Advantage Creative, this series of blogs is about her visit.

The plane touches down just after 4am on the 31st October and I am in a taxi around 6am (the bags take their time to get through). The next part of the journey is a familiar one as I was last here in May and before that two years ago in November 2016; just before the local elections which brought a new right-wing mayor to the city. This time I’m arriving 2 days after the national election which has seen the ultra-right wing, ex-military leader elected after a poisonous pre-election campaign with his words of destruction and hate. I know the people I will be meeting with for the next week are feeling heart broken, scared and insecure about what the next year will bring. It is a strange time to be visiting Brazil and to engage in enthusiasm for developing their creative economy, but this intervention is also needed more than ever. With these thoughts, driving across the sprawling concrete city, I arrive at the haven of the Zen Hostel close to 7am just in time to dump bags in my room and eat a breakfast of delicious home baked bread and yoghurt . I am suddenly listening to beautiful bird song accompanied by the peaceful sound of trickling water and luscious green tropical plants all around. It always makes me smile when I see all the plants that grow in abundance here that we have to nurse and protect to grow in any way at all in our UK homes.

By midday I’m in the car again, this time getting a lift to Santos with two video makers, Gabriela and Tobias of Bela Baderna. They are friends of the director Georgia who I have met by email and WhatsApp only. I finally arrive at the Procomum Institute around 1.30pm (teatime for me). What a place this is! My visit falls on a big day for them with the final performance this evening of one of their resident artists, Val Souza. I get a tour and learn the history of the building from the charming journalist and Communications Officer, Victor Sousa. He tells me the directors rent the amazing 1500 square metre building along with its garden, indoor and outdoor performance spaces, artist studios, kitchen, office and bedrooms for the resident artists, at a peppercorn rate from the family who built it with church money in the 1920s. The building was originally built to provide food to local people through a soup kitchen. The directors explained their idea of what they wanted to do with the building; which was about community exchange and a different way of conducting a supporting but more transactional relationship with the local community, the family who were struggling to maintain it financially were happy to make them a deal.


Getting a better understanding and a sense of place feels equally as important as getting to know people in a new project. The world is in crisis and projects like this have the potential to raise awareness and a sense of urgency. Our potential UK partnership for this project includes organisations that work with different business models across a variety of art forms and with diverse groups of people. This is an interesting opportunity to come together responsively and experiment with ideas with a partner on the other side of the world, working out how we can use creativity to support inclusion and economic empowerment.

There are many things Procomum want to change – how a creative economy works is only one. Their mission consists of working towards recognising, empowering and protecting ‘the commons’. The sign at the bottom of the stairs says : There is no commons without commoning. My task over my time here is to work out what all this really means in translation.

Part 2 continued here: https://junctionarts.org/2018/11/crisis-place-people-part-2/

About the author

Catherine Rodgers
Chair of the board of trustees for Junction Arts

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