Thursday, 26 May 2011

Guest post: 0,4% of ideas, by Cecília Folgado

Portugal vai a banhos, by artist Joana Vasconcelos
In times of elections, one must listen, think, consider. Some consider the debt, others the social benefits, I consider Culture. This is my world. Thus, I decided to look into the proposals of the five ‘big’ parties, trying to find out what were their perspectives of each one of them for Culture in Portugal in the next years.

More than finding out if Culture would be entitled to a Ministry or not (an interesting analysis of this issue was published by Guta Moura Guedes in the newspaper Público on May 24), what I was looking for was to find out what kind of Culture is awaiting us and what kind of Culture we can hope for. The answer is short and taciturn, the future not so bright. In the programmes of BE, CDU, PS, PSD and CDS the weight and the relevant importance of this issue are equivalent to the 0,4% of the government budget that is allocated to it. In the case of BE it is even less than that, it is 0%. For the remaining parties, the value of Culture is between one paragraph or a bit more than a A4 page.

You will tell me that Culture can´t be measured in palms. That´s true, it can´t, but in this case the contents coincide with the palms measured, they are short.

In the above referred article, Guta Moura Guedes asks those who govern us, minister or prime-minister, for a vision. I claim the same: a vision. After that, I claim honesty. Honesty when looking at the sector, in order to make a list of what´s wrong and what´s right and build a policy that would allow us (the sector and the country) to be whole and the Ministry of Culture to be not a mere symbolic conquest but an effective one*.

Regarding what I´ve read and the ideas I managed to put in order, it doesn´t seem important to me to talk about them, they are essentially vague (some) and repeated (others). What seems important to me is to go back to the 2009 list, built at the time of the last parliamentary elections by the collaborators of OBSCENA magazine. That´s it, just that. Two A4 pages (here measured with quite large palms of content).

In the times we are living, I understand the relevant importance Culture might have. And being in this sector involves a faith or militancy that, occasionally, in times like these, breaks. Personally, in these moments of disheartening, I find once again the meaning of art and culture in a phrase of António Pinto Ribeiro: “Art and culture – not necessarily in the same way, nor with the same possibilities – serve, in the life of each one of us, to keep the future present and boredom absent, to make enjoyment happen and to keep barbarism away.”

We cannot surrender to barbarism.

*In today´s Público there is a reflection on the upcoming parliamentary elections under the perspective of the cultural sector. It ´s also worth reading in the Culture section the report on the 100 years of the Chiado Museum, where, as mentioned by Raquel Henriques da Silva, “What is deeply embarrassing in the whole process is the lack of a Policy of State”.

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