More than 200 artists sign an open letter to Funarte; government answers

Researchers, artists and various institutions sent, last Thursday (8/26), an open letter to Tamoio Athayde Marcondes, president of the National Arts Foundation (Funarte), in which they demand the adequate preservation of the Documentation and Center’s collection. Research (Cedoc) maintained by the agency. The document also requests the opening of a dialogue with civil society to define the future of the valuable historical collection, currently in danger and at risk of fire.

Understand: Why Funarte’s collection is at risk

“Brazil has recently lost an incalculable amount of collections – in addition to the fires at the National Museum and the Cinematheque, there is the SBAT crisis [Sociedade Brasileira de Autores Teatrais]. Under these conditions, it is urgent to act in favor of the CEDOC/Funarte collection”, emphasizes the letter.

One of the rooms that store part of Funarte's Cedoc collection, in downtown Rio: building will be closed Photo: Maria Isabel Oliveira / Agência O Globo
One of the rooms that store part of Funarte’s Cedoc collection, in downtown Rio: building will be closed Photo: Maria Isabel Oliveira / Agência O Globo

Written by researchers from the History of Brazilian Theater Research Group, at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UniRio), the letter is signed by more than 200 names in the artistic scene, such as Fernanda Montenegro, Nathalia Timberg, Marieta Severo, Ary Fontoura , Juca de Oliveira, Marco Nanini, Renata Sorrah, Denise Fraga, Fulvio Stefanini, Renato Borghi, Walcyr Carrasco, Fabio Porchat, Paulo Betti, Zélia Duncan, Patrícia Pillar, among others.

Building has ‘cracks’

As recently reported by GLOBO, the collection maintained by Funarte is at risk. Last week, the 13-story building that houses, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, around two million treasures of Brazilian culture — and which is considered the largest historical collection on theater in Latin America — was banned indefinitely.

The scene at the site, as found by GLOBO on a visit to the building, is precarious: in addition to the risk of fire due to electrical overload (something that causes air conditioning units to be turned off), there is no water in some bathrooms, the light bulbs are burned out. and the only elevator that continues to operate only reaches certain floors, with occasional breakdowns — when it rains a lot, it has to be turned off due to leaks in the engine room. The property report remains out of date for over ten years, which generates apprehension, as the files are heavy and growing.

“There are really big risks. There are even repressions in the building. They told me that some time ago there were even cracks there. That cricket stays, right? — warns Marcelo Nery Costa, executive director of Funarte.

One of Funarte's Cedoc rooms, where relics of Brazilian culture are stored: infiltration, electrical problems and fire risk Photo: Maria Isabel Oliveira / Agência O Globo
One of Funarte’s Cedoc rooms, where relics of Brazilian culture are stored: infiltration, electrical problems and fire risk Photo: Maria Isabel Oliveira / Agência O Globo

government responds artists

The letter signed by the artistic class recognizes that the physical change of the collection, under such circumstances, “is more than recommendable”. But it asks “that any attitude in relation to the CEDOC collection be thought out and planned in collaboration with the academic, artistic and intellectual community of the country”.

This Friday (8/26), the group received a response from Funarte, something evaluated by the artistic class itself as an apparently “quick and encouraging” return. According to Funarte, the institution will act “always in favor of the execution of public policies in the interest of all”. Officially, it was agreed that there will be a meeting, shortly, between artists and Funarte directors so that the fate of the collection can be debated.

The three main claims exposed in the open letter, a long document that reviews the historical consolidation of Cedoc, are explained at the end of the file:

“For all the above, we claim:

1) That service to the public is maintained remotely for at least six months, so that researchers have a minimum time to structure themselves while waiting for the reopening of CEDOC;

2) A public hearing to discuss the fate of this collection with all agents who should be heard in this process (the country’s academic, artistic and intellectual communities, as well as professionals in the field of information science);

3) The effective and direct participation of the cultural and technical community linked to CEDOC in the decision-making process regarding the conduct of the destination of the collection, which must be housed in a space suitable for its custody, with guaranteed treatment and access”.