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Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil


There are three cultural centres of the Bank of Brazil in the country: one in Rio de Janeiro, another in Sao Paulo, and one in Brasilia. The head offices of the cultural centre are located in Rio de Janeiro, where there are also some permanent exhibitions (History of Money and History of the Bank), in contrast to the other centres where only temporary exhibitions are hosted. The artistic focus of the cultural centre of Sao Paulo is oriented towards contemporary art since the audience is more familiar with this kind of art. In contrast, the rest of centres are more traditional in terms of the forms of art that they project (theatre and cinema), with a modernistic approach. However, the situation seems to be changing in recent years.

Both the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo centres are located in the heart of the cities, in the so called historic centre. Although both buildings have a post colonial architecture and mainly the same facilities (cafeteria, book store) – the centre in Rio de Janeiro is much bigger and also hosts a theatre, a cinema, a library, an historical archive and some conference spaces. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the building in Rio de Janeiro hosted the headquarters of the Bank. In 1988, the Bank decided to move its headquarters in Brasilia, the new capital of the country. Since then the building in Rio de Janeiro hosts the cultural centre of the Bank. Although the biggest investor in the Brazilian cultural sector is the oil company Petrobras, the Banco do Brasil can be considered an important actor since it has been involved in the field for the past 20 years, with activities that intensely impact the public.

In Rio de Janeiro, thanks to the cultural centre, the surrounding area has been transformed. It used to be an empty and dangerous place, but now the area is changing and gaining a new air, with the movement of new cultural institutions and universities into the quarter.

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This institution is different from other bank foundations since it is explicitly acting for marketing purposes. The final objective is to enhance the image of the bank and to increase its brand power. In particular, the centre is directly connected to the marketing department of the bank, which is based in Brasilia, and whose main aims are culture and sports. There is a team of 40 people who are exclusively involved in the cultural centre.

Even though the manager assures us that the cultural centre is independent from the Bank, all the projects must be aligned with the marketing strategies and coherent with the general strategies of the bank in order to be accepted. In fact, there is a structural relation with the bank since the employees of the cultural centre are considered part of the marketing department and moreover the Bank finances CCBB’s activities along, of course, with the sponsors. However, the Bank does not interfere in the planning of the projects. Related to the issue of the budget, the specific amount of money that is dedicated to the cultural activities of the Bank is R$41million  for this year and is divided amongst the three cultural centres. Every year, the allocation of the money to the centres changes according to the needs and the projects.

Entrance for the cultural centres is free. There are however some cases, like the entrance to the theatre or cinema, where there is a charge. However, the ticket is not expensive compared to the normal price of a theatre or cinema ticket. Moreover, under the initiative of the cultural centre of Rio de Janeiro, there are now public buses, free of charge, that are used in order to transport citizens that either live far away or lack a means of transportation, to the CCBB. The CCBB is also sensitive to issues concerning people with special necessities. Specifically, there are educational programs for people with special needs and seniors. Moreover, the building is constructed so as to support the needs of these people and to reassure their ease of access.

The CCBB does not collect any artworks or produce any of the projects, it just receives proposals and approves the projects that will be realized. The projects that are approved, travel around the three cultural centres of the Bank, but are also hosted by other institutions in other cities. The exhibitions take place within the buildings, but in some specific occasions there have been some exhibitions in open air.

The projects are selected according to certain criteria: uniqueness, diversity, suitability to the spaces and to the budget, environmental issues – sustainability, quality of the artists and the artworks, diversity of the producers and projects. Particular attention is given to the issue of diversity since the bank does not wish to promote any specific artists. On the contrary, the bank is interested in promoting projects that convey values and introduce different kinds of art, diversifying in this way their program. For this reason, they are not only focused on the local art scene, but they also organize  exhibitions for other civilizations and art scenes. This fact helps the institution acquire sponsorships and private funds more easily.

Concerning the procedure for selecting projects, there are several steps. In the first phase, the CCBB makes a public announcement via internet. Then, those who are interested can upload their projects. Usually, there are independent production companies involved in the arts field that collect the projects and then send them to the CCBB. In the second phase there is an employee that examines the submitted projects and prepares a report about each one. In the next phase, these reports are analysed by the program manager and afterwards by the director and other managers of the CCBB. At the final phase a big meeting is held, where the technical department and the special crew according to the field and subject are also present in order to approve the project that the managers have chosen. Two projects are always chosen in order to be sure that there will be a back-up in case something goes wrong with the first option. Almost fifty persons, employees and consultants, are involved in order to finalize the selection of the projects.

by Sofia Adamantopoulou

CCBB Rio website

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