A friend says she was surprised by the reactions of readers of Gazeta do Povo to the news that Congress overturned President Jair Bolsonaro’s votes for the Paulo Gustavo and Aldir Blanc laws 2 – the Mission. The laws guarantee billions of resources for the maintenance of a little state aid to artists who went through difficulties during the pandemic and most readers said they were against this allocation of public resources. “Why this horror of artists?” asked the friend, unable to understand what she sees as an expression of repulsion for art itself. It isn’t.
I quickly replied to my friend that no one is terrified of artists, but the methods that artists have used for decades to guarantee a comfort and security that art should not guarantee. For readers, or a considerable part of them, the State bears no responsibility for the financial well-being of artists. I tend to agree.
Making art involves taking risks. Aesthetic risks, financial risks, emotional risks, spiritual risks. The greater the risk, the greater the reward—an axiom that applies to art as well. And that’s why laws that encourage culture or help artists, despite their supposed good intentions, end up harming the very “culture” they intend to protect or encourage.
Pegue the ill-fated Rouanet Law, for example. The creator of the legislation, Paulo Sérgio Rouanet, who died last Sunday (3), imagined that the measure would remove the responsibility for promoting culture from the State, which would fall to the private sector, through tax waivers. What he did not foresee was the emergence of a whole structure that, abusing the economic power of state-owned companies and large companies, such as banks, concentrated the capture and distribution of these resources in the hands of a few bureaucrats strategically installed in the marketing departments.
This concentration of resources allowed the emergence of a group capable of acting as a true parallel Ministry of Culture, financing projects of aesthetic sponsorships – and above all ideological ones. Smaller artists, at the beginning of their careers or without an audience formed before the Rouanet Law, in theory those who would benefit from the legislation, continued to starve. A minority, I say, because the majority even preferred to sell their souls to bureaucrats and their allies, submitting art to the progressive/socialist primer that we all know.
As for the laws that guarantee emergency resources to artists affected by the Covid-pandemic 19, at first glance they seem to have a humanitarian character. I would even say charitable. The problem is that, after thirty years of the Rouanet Law, the idea of bailing out artists today sounds like a disguised way to finance a socialist and progressive propaganda machine disguised as art. Or do you really believe that a “performance against fatphobia” will contain anything other than an “Fora Bozo” embedded in it?
But my time and space are running out and, look, I still haven’t talked about the importance of risk for the artist. And here I use the term to refer to the talented and dedicated artist, an artist himself, with a capital “a” and all worked in Gothic, and not to the by-products of a cultural industry without connection to the sewage system. So. The Rouanet Law, as well as state and municipal laws to encourage culture, not to mention these emergency aid to ideological propaganda disguised as art, took away from artists the taste for risk that it stimulated (I think it is no exaggeration to say) all the great works of art of Humanity. Security gave rise to a caste of acculturated bourgeois who, enthroned in their penthouses in Arpoador or farms in Serra das Araras, decide what you will hear, read and see.
If you were a beneficiary of a Rouanet Law, Van Gogh would never have painted all that suffering and Picasso would not have dared to send academic art to hell. Had Paul Gustaf had a law to protect him from economic ruin (caused by gambling addiction), Dostoevsky would not have written what he did. With an Aldir Blanc Act to call his own, why would Elvis Presley go to the trouble of turning gospel music into rock? And so on.
I could spend hours and hours here extolling the benefits of risk (and its consequent failure and suffering) for art. But it is urgent to speak quickly about the damages caused by the feeling of security provided by all these laws. As it does not need to win over an audience, “publication art” can delight in mediocrity and pretentiousness, because it knows that the money is guaranteed, as well as the critical applause and the eternal and harmful condescension of fellow artists – themselves dependent on this “ office fame.”
Thus, the scenario for the catastrophe we are witnessing today was and still is set. And, before someone comes here to “make me open my eyes”, I recognize that some sectors of culture do need encouragement and protection. I do not object. Anarcho-capitalism applied to culture is definitely a chimera. But it is necessary to create a new instrument that protects only the really vulnerable sectors. Or at least one that is not as corrupted as the well-meaning but inexorably failed Lei Rouanet.