I’m not really sure if cultural entrepreneurship is an official term or not, I have never heard it used in business school or seen it in any YouTube videos; to me cultural entrepreneurship is simply a form of entrepreneurship that is used to create culture in any given community, city or country. Catarse, the first and leading crowdfunding platform in Brazil, is recognized as a crowdfunding platform for cultural projects; therefore, I thought it would be cool to take a look at how a few projects launched off of Catarse in the recent months are representative of how cultural entrepreneurship could change the way culture is created.
If you walk around Sao Paulo in the core of the city, you will end up finding a number of cultural hotspots scattered throughout the sea of concrete. Amazing bookstores, museums, meeting places, etc. are spread throughout various parts of the city and create an oasis of sorts for people to congregate, create and mingle. As an example, Livraria Cultura (pictured below) is the most amazing bookstore I have ever seen in my life. It is located right on Avenida Paulista, and it is a sprawling three-story bookstore with an incredible vibe. There are places for spontaneous collaboration, a great coffee shop and an open floor plan that makes the space feel very welcoming. Places like these that are absolutely filled with people in a city like Sao Paulo and no doubt these are the types of places where people come for inspiration and to discuss their ideas.
Livraria Cultura bookstore in the heart of Sao Paulo
Nowadays, the web is providing a whole new channel for creative ideas, one that not only allows people to discuss, share and formulate ideas, but also to put them into action. I have seen no better example of this than on Catarse, where people are pitching projects that in most cases would never have been financed and having them successfully funded by the proverbial crowd. To demonstrate this, I thought I would talk about three projects that I thought were super cool, all of which would be considered cultural entrepreneurship by my definition. To fit this category, in my mind, they have to advance the culture in a political, social or environmental way. So here they are:
Belo Monte – Belo Monte is the biggest, and most controversial, project to launch on a crowdfunding platform in Brazil to to date. Essentially, Belo Monte is a proposed hydroelectric dam in the Amazon region of Brazil. Many people are concerned that the social and environmental costs of the project have not been properly analyzed. To deal with this problem, one group decided that they would go up to Belo Monte and film various stakeholders (local politicians, aboriginal tribe members, etc.) about their thoughts on the project. They went to Catarse in order to raise enough money to produce the film and distribute it throughout Brazil via the Internet. In November they kickstarted the campaign, and had hoped to raise 114,000 Reais (around $65,000 Canadian) in thirty days. It was a very ambitious goal, but they accomplished it in only 14 days. By the end, they raised over 140,000 Reais from almost 3,500 people. The Catarse trailer with English subtitles is embedded below:
Tellus – Tellus was a fairly ambitious project at the time it was launched back in the late summer. They wanted to raise 26,000 Reais (about $15,000) through Catarse and ended up raising more than 33,000 Reais. The founders behind Tellus aspired to create a political crowdsourcing platform, called Inspira, that would essentially act as place where the citizens of Brazil can become participants in public projects in areas such as health, education, the environment etc. The platform launched in the late Fall and it is meant to be a portal to post and connect with inspiring governmental projects. If you have an idea, for example, of how to improve education in Brazil, you can post it on the platform; from there, people can vote on it and if it is well received, the Tellus team will work with their connections to bring it to fruition. Check it out through the link below:
Cidades Para Pessoas – Cidades Para Pessoas (cities for people) is an awesome project that was started out of Sao Paulo. Essentially, the project creator had the idea that in order to get a fresh perspective on how to make Sao Paulo a safer, more people-friendly city (Sao Paulo is a cool city, but definitely not people friendly) it would be worthwhile to travel to other cities around the world, live there for a month at a time and chat with various city planners. The project creator visited cities like Amsterdam, Curitiba, Copenhagen, etc., and documented the trip on her blog (http://cidadesparapessoas.com.br). Originally, the project raised over $25,000 Reais in two months, and now the project creator is back in Sao Paulo to raise funds on Catarse for the second half of the trip.
There are countless other examples of cultural projects, from bands launching albums (A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade (the most beautiful band in the city), a YouTube phemona from Curitiba, funded the recording of their album (you can download it for free here) through Catarse), to films, plays and cultural events.
If you spend a few days walking around the city of Sao Paulo, you will really see the necessity for cultural spaces and projects. With so many people, cars, helicopters (the wealthy executives love to roll into work in a helicopter, they are constantly buzzing around the area near Paulista), etc., Sao Paulo alone has a strong need for cultural entrepreneurship (or whatever you want to call it).
Why drive to work when you can fly?
Overall, platforms like Catarse open up a whole new level of potential for artists, creative types or anyone who wants to give their cultural ideas a shot. They were not the first platform in the world to focus on cultural projects, but given the necessity created by cities like Sao Paulo for cultural entrepreneurship, they might be one of the best.