By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Thursday, January 4th, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella, announced the release of R$10.3 million for the lower level Access Group samba schools and for the Federation of Blocos of Rio de Janeiro. According to government news agency, the transfer of funds is scheduled for January 15th.
It has been much anticipated, because in June last year the mayor stated he would reduce the funding for Carnival 2018 by half. At the time city officials announced that the samba school associations received approximately R$24 million in 2017, but that would be cut so funding could be allocated to city-run day-care centers.
In a reaction the Independent League of Samba Schools (LIESA) announced that if the organization did not receive subsidies from the city, the samba school parades will be cancelled for Carnival 2018. Fortunately other funding has materialized, and that has not been the case.
Last week Crivella said he regretted that he did not have the money to pay the grant in full. “My responsibility as mayor is enormous, I can not afford to miss medicine in hospitals, I can not leave the students without food. I assure you that I will do my best to get more money for the Carnival,” said the mayor in the statement.
Despite the cut in local government funding, Rio Tourism Company (Riotur) was able to secure sponsorship from Uber and Dream Factory, and funding has now reached R$35 million. In total, LIESA, the Samba Schools’ League, will receive R$27.5 million to organize the spectacle, including R$8 million from the Ministry of Culture (R$3.5 million more than last year).
Lauren Quinn, an American expatriate living in Rio and founder of Bromelia Rio Travel, explained the importance of the funding from the city. “Carnival is the second largest tourism boost to the local economy next to New Year’s Eve. While tourists come for the [samba school] parades, they stay for the blocos,” she said.
“City funding is essential for Carnival’s basic infrastructure: public sanitation, toilets and police presence.” Quinn adds, “In this pivotal moment in our struggling economy, tourist satisfaction and the subsequent word of mouth promotion these happy guests will provide once they return home, can be part of the boost Rio’s economy is looking for.”
The mayor also exempted the Access Group samba schools from payments to the city hall of eight percent tax for the amount collected by selling tickets for the parades in the Marquês de Sapucaí.
In a statement, the city also reported that it was able to sponsor R$3.5 million from the Uber application through Riotur, which guarantees the assembly of all infrastructure for the Access Group samba school parades.