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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the wailing economy and the devaluation of the Brazilian real in relation to the U.S. dollar, Rio de Janeiro samba schools had to scramble and use their creativity to work the same magic with less money. Companies and government funds for this year’s spectacle were reduced as costs with material to produce the floats and costumes soared.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Samba schools, like Estacio de Sá had to use creativity to reduce costs for Carnival this year,
Samba schools, like Estacio de Sá had to use creativity to reduce costs for Carnival this year, photo by Tomaz Silva/Agencia Brasil.

“All (samba) schools are adapting. Some of the products which were imported from China were not available in the market due to the hike of the (U.S.) dollar, but the spectacle will be guaranteed,” Tarcisio Zanon, head of Estacio de Sá samba school was quoted as saying by daily Zero Hora.

According to Zanon expensive textiles and plumes were substituted by more simple material while others were taken out of the parade all together.

The yellow dragons the samba school will show during the parade, for example will be covered with plastic bubble wrap and paint, instead of costly textiles.

Imported plumes, one of the most commonly used materials used in costumes, have been replaced by lots of glitter and native straw. In past Carnivals there are reports of the ‘richer’ schools spending close to R$15 million to put on the one-hour show. This year, however, creativity was the key to limit costs.

“We probably saw a crisis more in the pre-Carnival stage, with fewer people buying the more expensive box seats,” said Leonardo Bruno, who has a column on Carnival at daily Extra. “But as soon as the first school enters the avenue, everyone will forget about the crisis,” he concludes.

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