- Brasília is remarkable for the modernist architecture and artistic urban planning of Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa. In 1987 UNESCO declared the whole city a World Heritage Site.
- The priority for the Secretariat of Culture and Creative Economy of the Federal District is social development.
- In 2022, Brasília will be the Ibero-American Capital of Culture.
City data: Key facts
- Geographical area: 5,802 sq. km
- Total population: 3,015,268
- GDP (PPP) million: $120,833
Brasília, although young, has a natural vocation for culture. Planned since the late 19th century, development only began in the mid-1950s, and it became Brazil’s capital in 1960. People from all over the country came to participate in its construction, creating a diverse and culturally rich workforce, which remains one of the capital’s main assets. Remarkable for the modernist architecture and artistic urban planning of Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, UNESCO declared the whole city a World Heritage Site in 1987, making it, at 112 square kilometres, the largest area in the world with this designation. It additionally became a UNESCO ‘City of Design’ in 2017.
Major cultural landmarks include the ‘Casa do Cantador’ (Singer’s House), created by Oscar Niemeyer to celebrate the northeastern Brazilian community of the Federal District through cultural events, and the ‘Praça dos Orixás’ (Orixás’ Square), located on the shores of Lake Paranoá, which is a centre for black culture as well as being host to the Iemanjá Festival and the Universal New Year’s Eve Celebration. Sites such as the Indigenous Peoples Memorial, not only mark the city’s colonial past, but encourage policies supporting traditional peoples. Carnival is a trademark of the city, with the 2019 event, under the slogan ‘Brasília, capital of all carnivals’, the largest staged to date. Meanwhile the presence of 133 embassies and international organisations in the city is a starting point for international cultural exchange.
Brasília’s cultural planning is in the hands of its Secretariat of Culture and Creative Economy of the Federal District (SECEC), covering both the city and its outlying districts, with a combined population of around three million. Culture Councils play a significant part in the city: formed with equal participation from government agencies and civil society, they offer a valuable space for creating fair and effective cultural policies. In a city rich with heritage sites, the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN-DF) also plays a significant part in protecting tangible and intangible heritage.
The top priority for the Secretariat of Culture and Creative Economy of the Federal District is social development, including using artists and cultural infrastructure to eradicate poverty and spread cultural goods and services produced in the Federal District. Sometimes, as with the City’s Graffiti Appreciation Programme, homeless people or those in poverty are supported to become paid cultural producers. The City also seeks to preserve its rich cultural heritage, develop the creative economy and entrepreneurship, as well as, through education, grow a new generation of artists and art audiences. Three vital policy strands support this work. First, since 1991, 0.3% of the net revenue of the Federal District Government has been given to the Cultural Support Fund (FAC). This supports all kinds of cultural output from films, plays and exhibitions to DVDs, books and workshops. In 2019, the fund assisted cultural agents with R$ 68 million. Second, private investment in culture is encouraged by the Culture Incentive Law (LIC) which offers tax incentives for businesses which fund art, generating R$ 11 million in 2019. Third, the Cultural Connection Programme promotes the cultural industries of Brasília on an international stage. Through the programme, 563 entrepreneurs travelled to 31 countries in 2019 alone.
In 2022, Brasília will be the Ibero-American Capital of Culture, offering further opportunities to support the professionalisation of the cultural sector, and showcase Brasilia’s cultural offering to a global audience. In a city created as a work of art and symbol of conscious nation building, culture is a vital route to further grow prosperity.