Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer will reinstate the country’s Ministry of Culture next Monday following a string of protests initiated by local artists and cultural organizations. The original and contentious decision had arrived from Temer himself as a way to alleviate Brazil’s historic government deficit: the plan incorporated the department into the Ministry of Education, thus shrinking the number of ministries from 32 to 23. This latest announcement, made by the Minister of Education Jose Mendonça Filho, occurred last Saturday, in a quick reversal of a policy just over one week old.
According to Brazilian daily Folha, Temer made the decision as a “gesture” to please the cultural and entertainment communities. Temer, who succeeded former president Dilma Rousseff after her recent suspension from office, will use a presidential decree to reinstate the Ministry of Culture, as Reuters reported. Its new minister will be Marcelo Calero, who previously held the position of Municipal Secretary of Culture in Rio de Janeiro. On Twitter, Calero describes himself as a football fan, Catholic, Samba-lover, and fan of Brazilian novelist and journalist Lima Barreto.
“We will build a path of truth, competence and transparency,” Calero said yesterday in a news conference. “My management intends to preserve achievements, deepen successful policies, ensuring the continuity of actions recognized and guided by the National Culture Plan, and create new programs.”
Calero, however, was far from Temer’s first pick: Folha reported that Temer had first asked at least five women prior to Calero to fill the role, but all five had rejected his offer. Reuters names actress Bruna Lombardi and singer Daniela Mercury as two of the five. Temer’s all-white, male-only cabinet has been a subject of major criticism since the start of his leadership.
As Hyperallergic previous reported, crowds of creatives had fought back following Temer’s announcement of the department’s cut after he assumed office on May 12. Loud demonstrations occurred at the iconic Gustavo Capanema Palace and during the Cannes Film Festival, while prominent members of the artistic community took to expressing their outrage in articles and open letters published in national newspapers. Still, while significant, the return of the cultural departmental is the first of many steps the Brazilian government must take to demonstrate its support of the arts: as prior Secretary of Culture Sergio Paulo Rounet told Hyperallergic last week, “What really matters is not the institutional status but rather the budget allocated to culture. It would be of little value to have a nominally independent ministry if the available resources would continue to be as insignificant as they are today.”
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