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Spectaculu Art and Technology School


Spectaculu is a non-governmental, non-profit institution that offers young people (16-21) from low-income communities the chance to complement their regular scholastic education with artistic, cultural and professional development. It is located in an old, refurbished warehouse in Rio, easily accessible by bus.

The objective of this institution is to integrate people living in risky situations, developing their critical awareness and self esteem using artistic means as a medium for dialogue. Their values are: solidarity, ethics, inclusion, transparency, diversity, autonomy, independence.

Spectaculu is made up of two core entities:

  • The school for all aspects of putting on entertainment shows.

It was set up in 2000, based on the idea of the designer and visual artist Gringo Cardia and the actress Marisa Orth (they are the directors). Since they were aware of the lack of qualified professionals in the show area, they set up Spectaculu as a school to teach the staging of shows (technical professionals). There are different units: scenic arts, set building, set lighting, stage props, interpretation, verbal expression, thematic workshops.

  • The school of visual arts and technology is aimed at fostering digital inclusion. There are three units, one in Rio (2003), another in Recife (2006) and another in Salvador(2005). Here workshops are held, as well as courses of graphic design, computer graphics, photography, digital communication, etc.

They have many supporters, an advisory board and a clearly structured team.


At first, we dealt with the dimension of the illegal market ruled by the favelas: one favela alone takes part in $10 million of illegal trafficking per year.

Secondly, in order to have an insight of the job market, we spoke about the current local wages: a maid gets300 euro per month (about R$800) for living from Monday through Friday in the house where she works. People who have attended school can reach 400 euro per month.

Spactaculu has created an internal placement cooperative to launch its students in the job market because external ones are suspicious about people coming from favelas and usually refuse to find jobs for them. The placement system is divided in two: Work Unit Bicho Carpinteiro for the technicians school and Work Unit Art and Technology for the art and technology school.

The aim of the organization is not only to help people economically by securing them a job, but also to enhance their social status and their self esteem. Art is thought to be a crucial element in transforming and educating people. Technology is the other tool through which inclusion is reached, being a window to the world and a means by which to change the society they live in.

Since, as actors or other similar artistic professions, this group of people would not be competitive, the school has chosen to qualify technicians for the sector, consistently with the dimension of the artistic production of Rio (lacking  technicians).

The main point underlined is the willingness to preserve diversity within the school, in particular mixing together people coming from different favelas. Usually, each favela is very closed: people are born there and often spend their whole lives there, going outside just to go around in the city. People from different favelas rarely speak to each other, because there is a strong sense of belonging to a “gang” and rivalries are very strong. There is a great authoritative power of gang leaders. All this does not allow any sharing among the different favelas. Thus, the main aim of this organization is to foster sharing and mixture among the different favelas, within the school.

Finally, a current problem in the ONG sector has been highlighted: since many ONGs cheated, fund raising activities are now particularly difficult. The fact that the school is related to the fundaçao of Gringo helps it solve such issues: they can count on some visibility. For example, fund raising is very important for Spectaculu in order to be able to have the most up-to-date technical instruments with which students can work (in fact, for example, we could see the last Macintosh model in the graphic design lab). Nowadays they have 93 supporters.

by Alice Pellegatta

Spectaculu website

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