Vienna, Austria - "Culture and Creative Economy as Basic Elements for Sustainability" was the topic of a forum at the Vienna International Center (UN headquarters in Vienna) on July 5, 2013. It was part of a broad celebration called "Áustria Brasil em Movimento - CarnaViena 2013" organized by ABRASA, an Austro-Brazilian and Afro-Brazilian organization that fosters education, cultural activities, and social integration.
To start the program Peter Jam, a young musician and UPF Ambassador for Peace, presented his song: "If You Want Love, If You Want Peace ..." which he had sung on his tour of European capitals during the past month. He was followed by a German-Brazilian performance by the group Maracatu Nation Stern der Elbe, who had come from Hamburg for the CarnaViena festival and performed the next day in a street festival marching and dancing through the main shopping street of Vienna.
Peter Haider, secretary general of the Universal Peace Federation in Austria, welcomed an audience of 150 people and expressed his gratitude towards the UN and all partner organizations for their help in facilitating this event. He reminded the audience that the UN proclaimed the first decade of the 21st century and the third millennium, the years 2001 to 2010, as the International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World and that the countries of South America have enjoyed long periods of time without war. Therefore, he said, Europeans can learn from them. He also quoted a statement by the Brazilian theologian and writer Leonardo Boff, who mentioned that he saw more happiness in the eyes of poor children in the favelas of Rio than in the faces of Europeans.
Dr. Leo Gabriel served as the chairman of the first session. As a social anthropologist and a expert on Latin America, he spoke about the importance of the culture of indigenous and black people in Latin America. He suggested that culture and creativity are linked to sustainability.
The panel speaker Queila Rosa Panstingl, ABRASA casa do Brasil, spoke about the vision and activities of her Afro-Brazilian NGO: “Through my work I want to make the Brazilians who live in Vienna become more visible. We Brazilians are hyperactive and always want to do something. I specially want to help the women, and among them those who suffer from domestic violence. I also want to show to our country of Brazil how well we have been able to integrate here in Vienna. There are 28,000 Brazilians living in Vienna. We need new opportunities; that is why I asked the government to work out new strategies for integration. We would like to create opportunities for migrants to learn the local language and be productive here in Austria. We need to cooperate with each other. We also promote tourism from Brazil to Austria.”
Then Ernst Woller from the Vienna city council spoke about the role of cultural activities in Vienna, a city of migrants and cultural plurality: “Vienna is a city of culture, but also a city of peace. It is one of the four UN headquarters in the world and hosts several important UN organizations. Vienna is also a city where numerous international congresses take place throughout the year. Tourism is growing 5% per year. Last year there were more than 11 million overnight stays in Vienna. Vienna has 1.8 million inhabitants, and 41% have at least one parent who was not born in Austria. We consider this as a great opportunity, not an obstacle or a threat. The city of Vienna has also successfully helped foreigners learn the German language. The city council organizes language courses especially for mothers with children, and many different kinds of financial support are provided for attending these courses. Culture is one of the strongest attributes connected to Vienna: 50% of all international media coverage about Vienna is related to culture. Culture, therefore, has become an important economic factor. There are more than 100 theaters and 300 museums here; 20 million tickets are sold yearly for cultural events. This is 40 times more than for soccer matches. The open-air festival on the Danube Island is the largest of its kind in the world. Cultural plurality is naturally included in many of these programs, and the city sponsors intercultural programs."
As a final speaker, Antonio Cancado de Araujo, a Brazilian who lives in France, spoke about Brazilian culture in France. An artist, painter, and photographer, he had brought the colorful paintings and photos which were displayed on the wall of the UN board room. "What do we want?" he asked. "We do not only want to eat and drink, we want to live! For 25 years I have been living in France. I am always in search of something. The Brazilian people are very creative, and despite many difficulties they are always optimistic. I always see the glass half full, not half empty. We can choose to be happy. We have a thousand reasons for it. Fight for happiness! Find a reason every day to be happy! Sometimes we are in situations of uncertainty, but we have to move on!” After his statement he introduced the exhibition: "Bahia, Menina dos Olhos do Brasil."
The discussion and questions from the audience focused on ideas of how government institutions can better support NGOs and artists.
To start the program after the break, the dance group Jeroky Paraguay entertained the audience with two traditional dances in their colorful national costumes.
Dr. Gerardo Thadeu, a member of the Brazilian Parliament and the Human Rights Commission in Brasilia, spoke about migration to and from Brazil: "In the Congress we discuss a lot about culture and creative economy. To support migrants is very close to my heart. Brazil is a very interesting country: decades ago it accepted migrants from all over the world: from Europe, from Japan and China. They have contributed greatly to the Brazilian culture. Twenty years ago Brazilians started to migrate to other countries. Four million Brazilians live outside of Brazil today. Sometimes they have undergone great difficulties. Today many Haitians try to get into Brazil, due to the devastation caused by the earthquake some years ago. We try to help them all, but we also appeal to other countries to help. Besides, many people from Africa, Peru, and Venezuela seek to move to Brazil. I am glad to meet Austrian people! I saw that they are happy people, even if they express it differently than we Brazilians would do. Finally, I would like to assure you that as long as I am a politician I will make efforts to make life better for all migrants!”
Then Dr. Jorge Portugal spoke about the Carnival in Bahia: "My city is the oldest city of Brazil, the place where the most ancient traces of population could be found in Brazil. When the Portuguese occupied this country they found 4 million indigenous people whom they could not enslave. That is why they brought slaves from Africa into this region, mainly from Angola. The tradition of the Carnival came from Europe to Brazil as a celebration before the 40 days of Lent in which no meat was to be eaten. Music and dance became an important element of the Carnival, which has spread all over the country. In 1928 the first samba school was established, and this kind of black rhythm became prevalent at the Carnival. The atmosphere at the Carnival is unique. Everybody participates, everybody dances on the street. Trucks carrying musicians who play the electric guitar drive through the streets, and people dance to the music. The Brazilian music has many African influences, because so many Africans were brought to Brazil. Some decades ago they started to establish special clubs for the people with African roots. Almost all of these clubs have social functions, and people can learn to play an instrument or join a Capoeira group. The Afro-Brazilian culture is important for Brazil, and I am happy that I could tell you a little about it.
Dr. Marineide Araújo addressed the responsibility of governments to support cultural diversity: "The Brazilian government created tax reductions for companies that are involved in culture. They also support the work of NGOs by reserving 6% of the tax proceeds for them. Education is another area that the Brazilian government considers very important: 10% of the income from oil is invested in education. We have good universities, but we are planning to create more. We have also increased the number of schools which provide professional education in crafts and various specialized jobs. The creative economy involves supporting cultural projects. Our art has to be presented to the public through culture.”
To conclude the conference Peter Haider presented Ambassador for Peace certificates to some speakers and famous artists who helped with CarnaViena 2013. He also referred to the founder of the Universal Peace Federation: "Rev. Moon was a great fan of Brazil. After he had become famous in the USA he moved to a small farm house in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul near the Pantanal in Brazil. He lived there for several years and taught that the true spirit of creation is to be found where human beings have not have yet destroyed nature; he called attention to the Pantanal as one of the biggest wetlands in the world. In addition, he was very interested in Brazil's national sport, soccer, and established an international soccer tournament called "Peace Cup" together with Brazil's soccer legend Pele."
The forum was a joint project of UPF, ACUNS (the Academic Council of the UN System), and Austria Brasil en Movimento.