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Changes in Funding Cultural Projects

By Luiza Moscoso, Contributing Reporter

The Minister of Culture Juca Ferreira, photo by Antônio Cruz/ABr.
The Minister of Culture Juca Ferreira, photo by Antônio Cruz/ABr.

RIO DE JANEIRO – The Law Rouanet (law nr. 8313,) responsible for establishing how cultural funding is done in Brazil, has been updated by the Ministry of Culture.

If the renewed bill is approved in the National Congress, the way Brazilian cultural projects, including films, have been funded for the last 18 years is going to change drastically.

Since 1991, when the Law Rouanet went into effect, 73% of the funding for cultural projects has come from individual, and mostly corporate, tax waivers. To be eligible for public funding, cultural projects have to be approved by a public agency based on technical aspects like budget and schedule. After this first stage, producers have to obtain the necessary funds from companies that will benefit from tax exemption.

Besides tax waiver, the Law Rouanet also allows funding through the Culture National Fund (FNC), but only 12% of the projects have benefited from this until now. According to the new Law Rouanet, the FNC would become the main source of funding, which means a project would be automatically funded after approved by the required public agency. The FNC will be divided in five sub-categories: Arts, Books, Heritage, Citizenship & Diversity and Equalization (for projects involving more than one area).

By the current law, the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have received 80% of the funds and 3% of the applicants have received 53% of the funding. The Minister of Culture Juca Ferreira believes the changes will democratize the access to culture in the country.

“We (the government) approve projects in an attempt to benefit all the cultural areas, all Brazilian regions, trying to reflect the cultural diversity, one of the greatest assets this country has. But in the end, the companies marketing departments are the ones responsible for approving the projects, with no control or criteria”, analyzes Ferreira in an interview to TV Brasil.

The concept behind the new Law Rouanet is to guarantee a clear definition of the criteria established to fund a project. The national commission that will manage the FNC will work based on three grounds: cultural relevance, the stimulation of cultural economy and accessibility. This will is intended to guarantee the access to culture projects to at least 20% of the Brazilian people and change, for example, the fact that only 13% of Brazilians have been in a movie theater at least once in their lives.

On the other side of the issue, cultural producers are concerned about a national commission being responsible for managing the funds, accusing the new system of “cultural dirigisme”, economic control. They believe the changes in the law will make it possible for the government, through the Ministry of Culture, to choose which projects will be funded and which projects won’t.

Another controversy about the “new Rouanet” involves copyright breach in the government’s favor. According to the new proposal, after 18 months or 3 years the government will have the right to use films, for example, with educational purposes without paying copyrights. Juca Ferreira argues that if a cultural work is 100% funded by public money, the government should have some rights over it.

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