The last few days have been jam packed with activities and meetings so I’m going to distil the most interesting bits for those reading this into one post:
Fábrica de Cultura is the first stop on my list. The literal translation of this is culture factory. The govt built 10 fábricas after a mapping exercise of the city to decide where the most vulnerable young people were by looking at high rates of teenage pregnancy, drug use and assassinations. The fábrica I visit is in Brazilanda which is to the north of the city. The building is huge albeit very white, which doesn’t really fit in with the landscape. I joke with the head of the fábrica that they should run a graffiti project to decorate the outside then turn around the corner and that is exactly what they have started doing.
Fábricas are multi purpose arts venues where young people aged 6-21 years can enrol for free in classes for one year in circus skills, theatre, popular music, visual art (including graffiti) and dance. We tour the building to see all the facilities. This is the one of the newest fabricas (it opened last July) and I’m wowed to find a top spec recording studio here fully kitted out and with two full time staff assigned to work here. Members of the community can book time (for free) to record their own music and receive specialist input from the coaches who are there.
The one thing the fábricas don’t have which guri do is the social worker input. I think though the two programmes can complement each other exceptionally well and the facilities available at the fabricas and quality of teaching staff there is truly great.
(Below: a singing class in action)
The next day I head to the Escola Municipal de Musica (city music school). This runs similar to EMESP in that it is a free school for music for 6-18 years and above, but it is funded directly by the city rather than the state. Interestingly, the music school grew out of the Teatro Municipal (opera house) but will only be launching their opera course this year (the school has been established for 45 years), having focussed on instrumental tuition mainly until now. The other difference is that they focus solely on classical music.
Similarly to the fábricas, the music school is based in a new building called Praça das Artes in the city centre. This means they have lovely new facilities including the most prized possession here for music- sound proofed rooms. The difference these rooms make is so huge I can’t possibly describe. The first thing I always seem to comment on in the polos is the noise and whilst it’s lovely as a visitor to wander through the corridors and hear the music drifting around, it is exceptionally hard to concentrate in the classes due to the sound bleed between rooms.
Another I notice about Brasil is the lack of photos or inspirational pictures on the walls. Discussing this with the Pedagogical Leader at the music school, this seems to be very much a cultural thing. Whilst we in the UK line our school walls with photos of students achieving or alumni or informational posters, the walls here are for the most part bare, which I find very odd.
I am taken down into the Sala conservatório which is the room used for chamber and solo recitals by both the students here and musicians from Theatro Municipal. I’m told that like Sala São Paulo, the room was built at the peak of the coffee trade and used as a Steinway showroom for their grand pianos. It is indeed a very impressive room and completely different to the rest of the building. Hanging in the middle is a glorious modern sculpted light fitting which, although lovely in its own right, I can’t help feeling like it doesn’t really belong here.
As I walk back to the SMC building, I stumble across a little yellow church in the middle of the city centre (cover photo for this blog post). It shines out and I can’t help but pop inside to have a wee look.
As its my final day at SMC, the team take me for lunch at the municipal market.
The market is indoors and stocks everything from spices to random bits of meat (inc pigs feet) to exotic fruits such as pitaya (Pink dragonfruit). The smells coupled with the sights really do take your breath away.
We head upstairs for lunch where we have a few pastels to begin with (like a pasty but the pastry is similar to a McDonald’s apple pie). The fillings are threefold: dried beef (tastes a little like corned beef), cod (dried and salted) and cheese….
(below: photo of a cod pastel)
For mains we have a dish similar to corn beef hash or stovies but with lots of cheese and its called escondidinho. It’s made with Manteiga (pronounced manjeka) which is a type of potato here. There are two varieties of escondidinho, and of course I try both; dried beef in one and shrimp/prawns in the other. It doesn’t look great but tastes phenomenal.
And so my stomach is once again full (I’ve managed to avoid any sugar as part of this trip- a miracle in itself) and so ends my time here in São Paulo. I have one day and one blog post left for this leg of my trip so stay tuned!