Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Acho que sim; pode ser otimo!

Artist workshop-Escola Cultural Mario Gusmão, Amaralina-Sunday afternoon.

Ten days ago Hannah and her colleague, Rogerio, a Brasilian children’s book author gave a lecture to black high school in the Liberdade, (Freedom) neighborhood of Salvador. Augusto, Lauri and I accompanied them. Following the lecture Hannah and I took the onibus from Pelourinho to Amaralina. The bus route followed the Bay to the Farol de Barra, then continued along the Atlantic Ocean to Amaralina, just past Rio Vermelho, (Red River). We had a meeting with Raquel, one of the administrators at Escola Mario Gusmão to discuss a potential art and music workshop with the Sacatar fellows and her students.

The children, 7-14 years old live in the favelas cut into the hills above the school and the beach. Mirroring other programs that we have visited, local public school children often attend an Art and Culture satellite school to supplement their book learning. The curriculum includes theatre, music, art and dance. The children receive three and half hours of instruction twice a week, including snack-time. The program is divided into four sessions per day, each ninety minutes long. School begins at eight and finishes by five.

Befitting an underfunded program brimming with hope and good intentions, Raquel was pushing for a bigger commitment from us than was truly feasible. Her construct was that she would negotiate rooms in a hotel virtually adjacent to the school. We could have breakfast for free, but other meals and incidentals would come at our expense. Materials were sparse. She had hopes that they could receive a handout from Sacatar. And that Sacatar would cross reference the Hotel Villa Mar in their press materials...

After our meeting, I asked Hannah if we could just walk the beach for a bit before going back to Itaparica. We quickly shed our sandals after crossing the boulevard running between the school and the beach. Like children we ran into the shallows of the surf, soaking our legs and laughing. Up ahead we saw a ledge of rocks with a casual café set on top. We had hopes of punctuating the afternoon with Caipirinhas, and then hopping a bus to the Lancha.

The Café, turned out to be a military beachside resort. There was a pool, tennis courts and full restaurant for officers, their families and retired military personnel. Cut into the hill above the resort were rooms for the members. Enlisted men bunked in a large military base on the other side of the hill. We hadn’t previously correlated the base with the resort.

Unlike my perception of this happening on this scenario in America, we were offered cocktails instead of a quick armed escort to the front gate. I sussed out this curious environment over our drinks. The current crop of vacationers consisted mostly of small families with children all in need of a fat farm. Homer and Marge might have an honorary membership. The affable waiters, casually dressed were warm and quite endearing. They invited us back for lunch, but not dinner. We were the last to leave the bar at 6:15. The staring MP's whispered back and forth as we left through the front gate, looking to contextualize us I guess.

We arrived back at Sacatar a few hours later, still giddy from the surf, cocktails and that curious bar scene. Over dinner we discussed the reality of a four day workshop close to the end of our residency, with the other fellows. All of us work with children, in similar inner city public facilities, in private institutions or in both. We all had the altruism piece, but were humpin’ for time. We needed more information from the school and from Augusto, aka Sacatar. Before putting it to bed, we roughed out a loose concept of what it could be based on our expertise.

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