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Supporting the arts is investing in democracy | Opinion

A strategic vision of culture is an essential element of democracy. Now even more than before. It is decisive for the future of the country to implement a public policy of culture, structured and sustainable.

The instability of support for the arts in Portugal has been prolonged over time and is often accompanied by divergent views between its professionals and the government sector. However, the two sides have long since converged on the fact that the dialogue will be the basis of an agreement that will help stabilize the policy of investment in the arts in our country. The constructive dialogue has one main objective: to solve structural problems, focusing on the essential.

Thus, we define as a priority of our political action to organize, structure and sustain the investment of the State for the development of the arts. In the absence or almost non-existence of studies (or of a simple mapping) on ​​the universe of artists, I initiated a set of contacts, having had more than fifty meetings with representatives and agents active in creation and cultural programming, the results of which were constituted as a diagnosis of the situation. These dozens of meetings guaranteed everyone involved a basic knowledge of the continuing difficulties that afflict the lives of professionals who, with perseverance and courage, fight for the full recognition of the importance of their creative work in building a full democracy. We have also found that some of the problems that make it difficult to register the arts in the daily life of the country stem from the lack of decisions that reduce the unpredictability of state support for artists, support that should never be understood. as a subsidy creating dependencies, but rather as an investment. in the transformative force of culture. Artists and art are essential to our development as a people and the state must support and invest substantially in their work.

The emergence of the pandemic has profoundly changed our lives and revealed, in a crude and “austere” way, the difficulties experienced by artists. It has become imperative that we focus on helping situations of a social nature (which are outside the political action of the Ministry of Culture), by creating exceptional support lines, which have emerged as complementary instruments. to the specific functions of Social Security, in order to mitigate the dramatic effects of the pandemic on an artistic community facing a hard blow. We could not ignore how covid-19 was affecting the arts sector and other cultural professionals and we decided to act on it, being, in fact, the only sector to benefit from additional social support.

We acted urgently, but we did not neglect the work in progress: the status of the artist and cultural professionals, the critical review of the model of support for the arts and the regulation of the network of theaters and filmmakers.

We propose that “sustainable support” for artistic structures be made every three years, with the possibility of being renewed for an equal duration, which will allow the sustainable development of the artistic project. The renewal will not be based on a competition, but on the result of the work of the monitoring committees created throughout the territory.

At this point, after hearing from hundreds of people and collective entities in the arts world, we are now entering into the public debate on these important structuring instruments to support the arts. We have not abandoned the current support model, which stems from the intense work of many professionals. As promised, we are continuing with the consensus guidelines of this model, but making changes that aim to improve the support system. Thus, we propose that the “sustained support” of artistic structures become three-year, with the possibility of being renewed for an equal duration, which will allow the sustainable development of the artistic project. The renewal will not be based on a competition, but on the result of the work of the monitoring committees created throughout the territory. In other words, the entities have the possibility of counting on support for six years, which will give them greater stability. The competition will open every three years so that new entities can access the support, thus renewing the artistic fabric.

The definition of financial support will be based on the tiered application model. The objective is to introduce an approach to the principle of financing at the requested amount. In this way, the project score is dissociated from the amount of aid to be allocated.

Sustained support will be directed to independent entities. Entities that are not exclusively independent may be supported by other programs, such as “partnership support”. We also offer a simplification of the application and verification process, removing some previous statements, valuing subsequent monitoring and continued accountability. Trust between the funding entity and the supported entity will be a premise. However, we will not do without the requirement for field surveillance. More confidence at the start, equal responsibility for the proper use of public funds.

We will strongly value support for entities on which labor relations are based on formal contracts. We would be sick if we didn’t learn from the situation magnified by covid-19 and lead by example. State support for the arts must be accompanied by the obligation to guarantee workers their social rights.

Another initiative which allows an extraordinary strengthening of the support to the arts sector and which is articulated with the revision of the aforementioned model is the effective creation of the “Portuguese Network of Theater and Cinema”. The reality is relatively well known: physical facilities have been created throughout the country which allow the regular offer of artistic activities. However, some of them do not work for lack of resources and others open the doors irregularly. Fortunately, there are good exceptions: municipal theaters which are genuine cultural centers of excellence.

The status of the artist and of cultural professionals, the mapping of the artistic and cultural sector, the revision of the model of sustainable support for the arts and the regulation of the “Portuguese Network of Theater and Cinema” are structural measures of the policy. public cultural heritage which is integrated with a vision of the whole and the future

In this mission of democratizing access to culture, it is time for the Government to join the efforts of local authorities, creating a support line for programming. Previously, there will be an accreditation process that will ensure that a given space has minimum requirements to fully function; physical, technical and human conditions. But it must also have internal regulations and define a strategic vision for its programming. It is only after the accreditation of the spaces that the entities can access support for programming. The project must provide for the realization of diversified artistic initiatives, in different fields, the regularity of the offer, generalized conditions of accessibility, mediation with the public, community involvement, etc. One of the most important measures will be the contractual obligation of the space to guarantee the hosting of shows that have been supported by DGArtes, thus allowing the circulation throughout the country of works that can often only be shown during short seasons. At the same time, we are betting on making co-productions.

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The status of the artist and cultural professionals, the mapping of the artistic and cultural sector, the revision of the model of sustained support for the arts and the regulation of the “Portuguese Network of Theater and Cinema” are structural measures of the policy. cultural public which are integrated with a vision of the whole and the future.

I am aware that there is still a long way to go. Therefore, we will continue to work hard, strengthening the dialogue with everyone.

The author writes under the new spelling contract

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