Junction Arts staff with brazil participants, at Instituto Procomum, Brazil.

Written By Paul Steele – Managing Director of Junction Arts

Collaboradora Project (Brazil) – Blog 1

Travelling to Brazil for the first time to talk about the work of Junction Arts and support a group of creative entrepreneurs, I was a little apprehensive. My main concern was, would our work translate? Both the political and economic climate in Brazil is very different to ours and the grassroots creative sector (at community level) does not have the same opportunities and infrastructure.

I was there to further develop and deliver a project with our international partners ‘Instituto Procomum’ (IP). The project entitled ‘Collaboradora’ is a partnership between Haarlem Artspace (Derbyshire), Junction Arts, Advantage Creative and IP and is funded through the British Council DICE (Developing Inclusive Creative Economies) fund. Myself and Catherine Rogers (Junction Arts Chair and Director at Haarlem Artspace) travelled to Brazil for two weeks to work with the Directors of IP and deliver a residency workshop with Collaboradora participants.

IP’s home in Santos, Sao Paulo, is an impressive 1500 square meeting building along with a garden, indoor and outdoor performance spaces and artists studios. Through the Collaboradora project they are supporting 25 creative and social business start-ups with a programme of training and business support. Over the course of a two-day workshop we worked with the participants looking at Business Models and Fundraising. Catherine framed the workshop around storytelling and its importance for Business identity.

My role in the workshop delivery on day 1 was to look at ‘articulating your business vision’ through developing a vision framework made up of their ‘core ideology’ (Core values, core purpose) and their ‘envisioned future’ (10 to 30-year BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and vivid description of the future). We used stories and storytelling to help develop the envisioned future for their businesses and complete the vision framework.

Participants during the workshop at Instituto Procomum.
Lunchtime, at Instituto Procomum.

Day 2 of the workshop was going to be trickier. I was delivering a session on fundraising. The problem was that specific funders and UK funding mechanisms don’t translate to Brazilian creative enterprises (for example, they have no lottery funding and government funding is very hard to access). Therefore, rather than focussing on specific examples we looked at the basic principles of fundraising, e.g. cultivating relationships, broadening your case for support, articulating ‘why’ your work is important, the fundraising cycle and, of course, measuring impact. This worked, these fundraising principles are universal and the importance of focussing on the ‘why’ (the impact) of your creative business rather than the ‘what’ was fundamental. The fundraising workshop followed on nicely from Day 1s visioning session. To successfully source funds for your work you need to know your ‘core ideology’ (who you are and what you do) and your ‘envisioned future’ (where you’re going and your ambition). It is highly unlikely you’ll secure funding for your creative enterprise without both being in place and articulated within the vision framework.

Before the workshop we were briefed that some of the participants were coming from a place of vulnerability and to be aware of the diverse and complex issues that may be present. I found that over the two-day workshop they were very open to expressing their values and were very aware of the emotional impacts of their creative and social businesses, however when we looked at ‘systems’ or ‘processes’ they were much more apprehensive. I thought this was very interesting, their ease at articulating values and purpose but their unease at process, charts and a logical systems approach. Ironically when I’ve been involved in similar workshops in the UK I’ve found the opposite; people were much more uncomfortable articulating values and purpose but more comfortable looking at systems and logic. Maybe this is a cultural difference or maybe just specific to this group of participants but I did see examples of this re-enforced over my two-week stay.

The workshops were very successful due mainly to the honesty and enthusiasm of the participants. They took on board our approach to business development and it was great to show them case studies from the work we do at Junction Arts.

As well as the workshops we also went to visit many other projects, some involving participants from the Collaboradora in the favelas of Sao Paulo (I will share these experiences in a separate Blog). It was incredible to see (especially in the favelas) how people were using creativity and the arts to bring communities together. Going back to my original question of whether the work of Junction Arts would translate, I needn’t have worried! The trip re-enforced my belief that the arts and creativity are central to empowering people, bringing communities together and creating a better future for the people of Santos, Sao Paulo as they are for the people of Bolsover, NE Derbyshire and for communities the world over.