A Great International Mobilization

We want to see a cultural phenomenon, a social and productive phenomenon as a whole, one that would be built on multiple synapses, just like a great brain facing up to the challenge of producing a consciousness of modern life, of contemporary life. We need to tackle once more the issue of culture and of the Brazilian cultural dimension in the full light of republican life; and this tremendous work is a priority that deeply involves the Brazilians, and more especially one of them, our President of the Republic; Our President talks firmly about the tremendous work we have of letting all Brazilian citizens express themselves, of making all the communities, territories, dialects, and perspectives heard. I believe, we must strive to achieve this by communicating with the world and our contemporaries.

What should we expect from this Forum? An extraordinary meeting of views, conceptions, during which every individual outlook on the world culture will be shared on a broad scale; a great international mobilization which will place our management processes accurately within this utterly interesting characteristic of contemporary life, that is, administrating, and programming the management processes by flows, in other words, this requires a wide openness to novelties, to unexpected occurrences, to whatever takes place suddenly, and appears with a huge load of dynamism and possibilities - as opposed to what is viewed as the more classical meaning of management, that is, cycle management. Both styles of management must establish an on-going means of communication, as these are two indispensable sides of administration; they also remind me of a line written in a song, which said: "People know what they want, but people also want what they do not know". This maxim is fundamental for our management, for our consciousness of state management. We must know what we are going to do with our people, and always remain open to what is new, and challenging. We must join and stand hands in hands, and the mere fact of developing this awareness is already a huge step forward. This Forum, of which we had already dreamed, is coming down onto us just like a thunderbolt that would energise everything around, and this is exactly what it will bring: a great provision of means, tools, and possibilities for a future management of the world culture".

Gilberto Gil, Minister for Culture of Brazil
São Paulo embraces the World Cultural Forum

The World Cultural Forum is taking place in São Paulo as an acknowledgement of the city in the most significant debates of current affairs.

After eight years marred internationally by corruption and disrepute, São Paulo has recovered its credibility thanks to the new city administration. We have endeavoured to revive the dynamism of this welcoming and cosmopolitan city, where thousands of people and cultures live together under the flags of tolerance and creativity.

It is this São Paulo that now embraces the World Cultural Forum. The Forum will take place at a particularly appropriate moment, during the 450th anniversary of the city, for which a series of international events have been organized. The Forum will be at the forefront of this process. Indeed, it is likely to connect a global network of cooperation that will open a common outlook on culture. The Forum will enable to build a common platform for everyone.

We are living in a time of global pasteurisation and of trans-national dominion of the industry of entertainment. We come across weakened local cultures. Intolerance is hindering dialogue. And the chronic lack of state policies fails to respect creativity and diversity. It is now urgent that people's potentials be awakened and that the state of affairs in which arts and culture find themselves be monitored so as to create supports to companies and safeguard local cultures from the savageness of the market. Culture may, thus, be an agent for prosperity, a global coexistence, and the development of society as a whole. This is why we must urgently redefine the role played by the government in the cultural life of its people.

The City Hall of São Paulo is working diligently on such a project. Every initiative implies culture as a common experience, a meeting place and one of collective memory. We have an organic view on culture, our actions involve other secretariats besides that of Culture, which strive to enable meetings, stimulate the circulation of cultural assets, make local cultures, that is, the culture of districts, ethnic groups, and of the entire city breathe.

Each of the 21 Unified Educational Centres (CEU) is more than just a pool of schools. It entails the integration of the community. Each CEU is equipped with swimming pools, theatres, "telecentres" (digital inclusion centres) and libraries. Areas have been designed to practice sports, and set up community radio stations and workshops. All are opened at weekends, and have arts complexes that enable people to be in touch with one another. Only in the district of Lajeado, 88% of the attendees, who have already come to see films at the CEU Jambeiro, had never before been to the cinema. None had entered a theatre to see a play and only got to experience this at the CEU.

We have set up a project called District Centres, which has already revived 45 of the 50 areas and squares in the poor districts planned to be revived before to the end of our administration. Each of them is self-sufficient: they are safe, have plenty of trees, playgrounds, football pitches and tennis courts, skate rinks and event places; they enable people to share a bit of their spare time together in the convivial atmosphere created through those meetings.

We currently have the largest network of public libraries of Brazil. We are going to create the City Museum, which will integrate the public memory of São Paulo as a whole. We have redefined the use of historical city houses. We have restructured the São Paulo Cultural Centre, and have started to refurbish the Mário de Andrade Library.

All those experiences will be offered to the multinational participants, who will come to share this unique opportunity promoted by the World Cultural Forum. Culture generating development, social responsibility, and building alternatives in common. This is what the City of São Paulo proposes."

Marta Suplicy, Mayor of the City of São Paulo
Culture, Uncertainty, and Perplexity

And what now, José?
The party is over,
The light is off,
The people have gone,
And the night has gone cold,

With the genius contained in José, Carlos Drummond de Andrade anticipated the note of perplexity that would come to mark the beginning of the millennium. The party is over denotes the end of a utopia - or rather the end of utopias. The light is off outlines the frame of uncertainties surrounding us, the shaky composition of many questionings and lack of answers. The people have gone, and the night has gone cold suggests the roar of mass popularization, of a dull culture resulting from the montage impelled by the consumption encouragement. It is you who writes the verses, who loves, protests enacts the role of arts, of the creator, and of the thinker in the restless set of a society that is uncertain of the courses to follow. 'You walk ahead, José! Where to?'

It is on the terrain delimitated by Drummond's discernment that the 2004 World Cultural Forum of Brazil is set. Based on a tight schedule, the Forum will extend the thesis of the utmost importance of culture in contemporary life; it will lay the emphasis on the relation with economic and social development; it will claim its presence in the policies of Brazil and throughout the world; it will stimulate the mechanisms that support cultural initiatives. Furthermore, it will reinforce the perseverance of the Ministry of Culture to place Brazil at a higher and more prominent point in the world's panorama of arts and of creation. It will also increase the penetration of the recommendations expressed during the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development, organized by the UNESCO in 1998, in Stockholm. These recommendations were of significant importance, since they were based on the essential role played by culture in development strategies.

However, should uncertainty and perplexity come out as the colours of our times, on the other hand, and this counterbalances globalisation, the idea of diversity emerges as a keen statement, which will not disappear so soon. A source of self-gratitude, and self-esteem, it is under the sign of cultural diversity that the Forum draws its force."

Danilo Santos de Miranda, Regional Director of the SESC São Paulo [Social Service of the Commerce of the State of São Paulo]

The Challenge of a Collective Process

It is through this portal being presented now, that we expect to strengthen the discussion the World Cultural Forum wants to raise.

The regional meetings and the associate forums already occurred or the next ones in many Brazilian cities and in different countries, anticipate the large awaited celebration in São Paulo.

The challenges of a collective process of this dimension are huge: To foster a dialogue with the cultural diversities, To understand the imaginary and the values of each culture within each peculiar context, To be open for different solutions or problems, To establish a dialectical relationship between tradition and innovation. Mutual understanding can stimulate both transformation and maintenance of more permanent values, leading to the creation of new aesthetic relationships thus enriching the common heritage.

We sincerely appreciate all contributions that have been sent, the enthusiasm of the civil society leaderships, and from the Governments that have joined the project around this great voluntary effort. We also thank all the members of the Board of Directors for their distinguished contributions, to the offices in São Paulo, Rio and Brasília, and especially to the team in Salvador, for their extreme dedication along this process.

The standardised way the ideas have been sent have shaped the organization of the Forum into six large core themes that comprise the many dimensions contained in the project. These are the themes that will guide people's participation on the Virtual Forum of this portal.

Despite all the difficulties faced to the present moment, moreover in terms of the emergent economic and political situation throughout the globe, we believe that culture and art are powerful means of communication and understanding among folks of different origins, therefore an efficient tool for crossing all boundaries.

Ruy Cezar Silva, Casa Via Magia, Board of Directors of the World Cultural Forum