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Cultural opportunities in Brazil

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine Mclean

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine Mclean

Barbados has recognised a number of opportunities for its own culture to take off in Brazil and is keen on exploring them.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine Mclean, expressed this today, as she met with Brazil’s Interim Minister of Culture, Marcelo Pedroso at his office in Andar, Brasilia.

“We would want to look at those and to probably better understand the process by which we could more or less activate such initiatives and get them going in areas that may be priority,” Senator McClean said. She is currently on a week-long political/economic mission in Brazil, and was accompanied to the Culture Ministry by Ambassador Yvette Goddard and other members of her delegation.

The Minister stressed that Barbados saw Brazil as a major player in the international economy sharing some commonalities culturally. She added: “And, we also, in Barbados, believe that as we look to build our cultural industries we see many opportunities whether in music, film or the visual arts.

She noted that a larger part of the delegation who were in Sao Paulo, comprised those with a cultural background including two artistes who are on a week-long internship and a representative for the Association of Music Entrepreneurs who were all “basically exploring the possibilities of cooperation in several areas including culture”.

While explaining that Government’s role was to also facilitate its private sector, Senator McClean stated, “We have developed a strategy of going into market places, and different countries using what we would describe as a team approach rather than have a single entity coming to the country to promote Barbados. We believe that we can do it at the Government level facilitating a number of sectors.”

She stated too that tourism, international business and the financial services sectors were also of utmost importance and the island saw potential for its manufacturing products, professional services as well as cultural industries. Barbados’ Foreign Trade Minister further underscored the point that while exploring opportunities at the commercial level, Government also saw the need “to explore the bilateral agreements signed as well as those agreements with CARICOM”.

In outlining Brazil’s current focus in the area of culture, Pedroso said over the last 10 years there had been a great change in this sector and the country viewed its culture as “a strong way or tool to develop, to include people in giving them access to culture and development and also [as] an important way of expressing the artistic perspective.”

Noting that they had worked on this track to develop their culture, he said Brazil could be considered “more than a country” and “almost a continent”.

“So, for this continent to have a strong diversity in terms of culture is an important point for us because it also gives us another perspective – from the aspect of tourism,” he observed.

He told Minister McClean that there were many programmes Brazil was developing and pointed out that in terms of social inclusion the Government was working on the development of some 360 cultural centres as a way to develop culture in poor areas of Brazil, and in the main cities of the country.

He also spoke of a new policy considered “almost a revolution”, which would allow access by all to cultural products and services including theatre, dance, books, magazines, and cinema.

Minister McClean in commending this policy said: “Your effort and project of inclusion to get lower income earners, the individuals who typically would not experience a range of cultural offerings… to build an awareness… is something I find very interesting in terms of exposure and by doing that beyond exposing that population, you are also perhaps demonstrating ways in which they can utilise cultural expressions on a number of fronts. It can be used to build community… and create employment….

“I think that that particular programme is very very interesting, because we are looking in Barbados to strengthen what would have been a traditional sense of community that is something that I would want to share with two of my colleagues in particular – The Minister responsible for Community Development and the Minister for Culture, because I see it as a way in which we can expose persons who are less likely to take advantage of such. They can do so in a way that is facilitative… I think that is quite a useful idea.”

The Minister suggested the need for cultural exchanges – introducing Brazilians to Barbados and ‘Things Barbadian’ and said that one of the approaches in this area of culture would be to identify a number of opportunities where Brazilians could go to Barbados to undertake training workshops or alternately Barbadians could come to Brazil for the purpose of observation.

The two also discussed ideas on aspects of built and unbuilt heritage and agreed to identify areas within the many agreements which they would wish to address in the short and long term. (BGIS)

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