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Public art cancelled in Rio due to cultural budget cuts

An installation by the Italian artist Giancarlo Neri is the most recent project to lose funding during Brazil's economic crisis

by Gabriella Angeleti  |  3 August 2016
Public art cancelled in Rio due to cultural budget cuts
Giancarlo Neri's Bar Paris (2005)
The arts programme ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics has suffered another loss due to budget cuts, the Brazilian publication O Globo reports. A public work by the Italian artist Giancarlo Neri is among the installations recently cancelled by the country’s new culture minister Marcelo Calero.

The work Bar Paris, comprising 1,415 chairs with lights attached, was to be installed in a public square in the Glória neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. The budget of 632,000 reais (around $200,000) would have covered the materials, a space to store the work, 24-hour security for the run of the project and other logistical issues.

The cuts come after the Brazilian government sought to close the Ministry of Culture as a cost-saving measure earlier this year, as the country's economic crisis worsened. When artists and citizens protested the decision, the interim president Michel Temer quickly reinstated the ministry on 23 May, but funds for cultural projects remain scarce. In a statement to O Globo, the ministry said that while funding has been secured for the cultural events already announced publicly, some projects "are going through adjustments so that the principles of administrative efficiency and public spending are respected". Meanwhole, on 26 July, the culture ministry announced the dismissal of 81 federal employees, including directors from the Brazilian Cinematheque in São Paulo, the National Library of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, and the Brazilian Institute of Museums in Brasília, as part of a larger restructuring of federally funded roles in arts and culture.

Neri has presented a number of works in Rio before, including one in the same location in 2012, Máximo silêncio em Paris, an installation of 9,000 illuminated orbs that changed colour, and a projection of the moon that traversed the windows of the Hotel Gloria in 2009. On his Facebook page, the artist posted a photograph that shows Calero poolside and ironically thanked the culture minister for “cancelling all the cultural projects in 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, including ours”.

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