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Brazilian Government Invests in Culture of Hip-Hop, by Larry Rohter


Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times

Image and text source: NYTimes

March 14, 2007

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — In a classroom at a community center near a slum here, a street-smart teacher offers a dozen young students tips on how to improve their graffiti techniques. One floor below, in a small soundproof studio, another instructor is teaching a youthful group of would-be rappers how to operate digital recording and video equipment.
Students practice drawing because of graffiti’s connection to hip-hop.

This is one of Brazil’s Culture Points, fruit of an official government program that is helping to spread hip-hop culture across a vast nation of 185 million people. With small grants of $60,000 or so to scores of community groups on the outskirts of Brazil’s cities, the Ministry of Culture hopes to channel what it sees as the latent creativity of the country’s poor into new forms of expression.

The program, conceived in 2003, is an initiative of Brazil’s minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, who will be speaking on digital culture and related topics on Wednesday at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, Tex. Though today one of the country’s most revered pop stars, Mr. Gil, 64, was often ostracized at the start of his own career and so feels a certain affinity with the hip-hop culture emerging here.

Also see:

Brazilian Hip Hop on the rise
http://madeinbrazil.typepad.com/
madeinbrazil/2007/03/brazilian_hip_h.html

Brazilian Hip Hop On The Rise

It is good to see Brazil in the news for a positive reason: today’s New York Times talks extensively about a government program investing on hip hop culture as an incentive to keep kids in school. I had not read about the program before even though it was conceived by minister of Culture Gilberto Gil in 2003, but I highly agree that the government needs to open its eyes to finding new and improved ways of giving a chance to kids and teenagers growing up in empoverished areas. I am sure that in Brazil many conservative taxpayers have an issue with funding rap and graffiti art, but as Mr. Gil put it “you’ve now got young people who are becoming designers, who are making it into media and being used more and more by television and samba schools and revitalizing degraded neighborhoods.” Sometimes all it takes is a little creativity and less prejudice to make a difference.
Also see Wikipedia’s entry, worth considering prior to the NYTimes article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_hip_hop

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