Ribeirão Favel’Arte, Festival of Arts and Culture in Brazilian Favelas

Ribeirão Preto, Brazil – While social inequality and police violence in Brazil continue to thrive, community activists embark on their quest to retake the commons for the arts. Ribeirão Favel’Arte, a non-profit artistic and cultural festival organized by Coletivo CriAtiva, in partnership with members of Capturarte, aims to encourage the production and circulation of peripheral music in Brazilian favelas.

On Saturday, August 6, the first edition of Ribeirão Favel’Arte took place in the Jardim Juliana neighborhood, located in the peripheral part of the East Zone of Ribeirão Preto, a city of ~711 thousand people.

Coming to fruition during the tenure of right-wing president Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the first auditions featured an audience of residents, local leaders and neighborhood merchants, representatives of left-wing parties such as PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) and PT (Workers Party), municipal leaders and members of the Judetti Zilli Collective and supporters of initiatives such as the Nova Era Institute.

The audience participated in gift raffles while watching a slew of various performances which included but not limited to:

  • a capoeira presentation by the group Toca das Onças with master Charles,
  • a street dance workshop with Tiago Spoken,
  • a marginal poetry (youth poetry) workshop with Kai and Soy, Nagô braid with Bibles FK,
  • a kids space with Studio Fitness,
  • legal guidance with Emancipa and FAD (Front of Lawyers for Democracy) and,
  • slam and music presentations.

There was also the audition of four of the 12 musical artists participating in the three-audition phases of the festival. LC016, Paulo Perception, MC Bya and MC Murilo da CP all essentially performed against each other, with the artist Paulo Perception moving on to the next phase with the song “Flow Maloqueiro.”

Paulo Perception was chosen by a group of judges formed by Kamila Andrade (MC, multiplier of Hip Hop culture and presenter of MCs and break battles), Vinicius Preto (rapper, historian, presenter and founder of the group Zamba Rap Clube) and Fabrício Bispo (musician, writer, music producer and founder of the production company BooMBapera Beats). The grand finale of the festival is scheduled to take place on November 20, Black Consciousness Day, in an as-of-now unnamed location in the city of Ribeirão Preto.

The organizers felt that seeing a public square being occupied with art, culture and resistance serves as fuel for the struggles. Organizers had to endure their own struggles dealing with bureaucracy and misinformation to get the event space approved by city hall despite the lack of resources, lack of support from party leaders and an inadequate structure for the event.

After securing a location they asked for the municipality to clean the park before using it, without success. However, through “gambiarra,” Brazilian improvisational DIY (Do-It-Yourself), organizers and residents of the Jardim Juliana neighborhood created the festival grounds at a park with their own lighting and stage. The setup was then given back to the community.

Bruna (Liz), festival organizer, artist

We talked to Bruna, better known as Liz, a 17-year-old graffiti artist, and one of the festival’s organizers and a resident of the territory. She spoke about the importance of occupying space and bringing art to the community, which according to her is very lacking.

“Ribeirão Favel’Arte is extremely important as a way of encouraging and giving hope to the people who are occupying that neighborhood, that these people have a source of art and culture present in their own environment.”

After being asked what it means to occupy a space so abandoned by the state with art and culture, Liz said that it’s a responsibility of artists to create spaces for the youth.

“It’s something of a lot of responsibility, especially for us as artists, from this mainly young people develop skills that are hidden due to lack of opportunities and arriving with culture in these spaces can save someone’s life and be born a great power in this environment that it is something that the state does not want to do, thus abandoning these young people to education, which is the main source of consumption and rights for these people.”

The next audition of Ribeirão Favel’Arte is scheduled to take place on September 10, from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., in Salgado Filho, a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the north of Ribeirão Preto.

All images provided by Sheila Fotografia.

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