Better known as a commercial and financial hub in Brazil, Sao Paulo doesn’t have the same reputation for creativity and the arts as other Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.
But with the arts and creative products adding more than 4,000 jobs to the city over the last few years, leaders there have taken a growing interest in the city’s creative economy, Guilherme Mattar, deputy secretary for international relations for Sao Paulo, said Sept. 11.
“Like other cities, Sao Paulo was not immune to the economic crisis,” Mr. Mattar told a small group Sept. 11 organized by the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast at the Metro Atlanta Chamber.
“But what the slowdown has done is draw attention to a future wave of opportunities for artists, architects and designers,” Mr. Mattar said, mentioning new areas of growth for artists that have opened up in Brazil as it prepares for upcoming mega-events like the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Atlanta-based artists, he added, can play an important role in partnering with these efforts as they draw on their experience with the Cultural Olympiad that accompanied the 1996 Olympic Games.
During an interview with Global Atlanta following the metro chamber event, Brazil’s consul general for the Southeast, Hermano Telles Ribeiro, underscored the potential for increasing the ties binding the two cities and pointed specifically to Sao Paulo’s bid for the World Expo 2020, which, he said, would benefit significantly the development of the city’s creative economy.
While the arts themselves are important to the city’s vibrancy, he added, participation in mega events requires imaginative thinking to meet the demands that they place on logistics and social media.
Mr. Mattar also pointed to Sao Paulo’s commitment to environmental sustainability goals in its push to attract the 2020 World Expo, which he predicted would attract 35 million visitors to the city over a six-month period with millions of dollars of investment.
“The World Expo is the third largest global event after the World Cup and the Olympics, but it’s the one best suited for Sao Paulo we think, because it has a lot of potential to leave a solid and massive legacy for the future,” Mr. Mattar said.
For example, following the conclusion of the event, a specially built campus for the Expo would be transformed into an energy-conscious, micro-community with shared spaces for universities and businesses, he said.
Despite these positive prospects, challenges remain, he added, citing additional infrastructure improvements and urban planning efforts while the city of 11 million already has a long backlog of projects already on the books.
Sao Paulo will have to strike a balance between meeting the demand for infrastructure and its need for reliable partners, he said.
“We must do it on a very rapid path, so we are seeking partnerships with traditional economic allies like the U.S., like the U.S. states and now the cities,” Mr Mattar said.
“Lately the cities have been working together very effectively in many areas (like) urban areas, economic development, sustainability and (environmental issues), so that’s what we want to perfect and make it better with you.”
Atlanta already has established Sister City ties with Brazil’s capital, Rio de Janeiro, and Fulton County earlier this year connected with the Brazilian state of Bahia to enhance the two region’s economic and cultural ties.