By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIO, BRAZIL – In a surprising move, the Independent League of Samba Schools (LIESA) announced on Wednesday night that if the League is unable to receive subsidies from the city of Rio de Janeiro, the world’s most famous samba parades will be cancelled for Carnival 2018.
“The Samba Schools of the Special Group, represented by their presidents, have decided in a meeting held at LIESA headquarters, on June 14, 2017, that if the decision made Mayor Marcelo Crivella [of cutting subsidies] is upheld the samba school parades, in the Carnival of 2018, will be made unfeasible,” said the statement released in LIESA’s Facebook page.
Mayor Crivella proposed on Tuesday that fifty percent of 2018 subsidies set aside to be given to the samba schools to prepare for the parade be reverted to improve food quality and school material of children going to city-run day-care centers.
City officials, at the time, assured LIESA and the public that the relocation of funds did not mean that the samba schools would not have enough resources to put on the multi-million dollar event.
“Avenida Marquês de Sapucaí will undergo works to improve the infrastructure conditions offered to samba schools. The planning foresees the modernization of light and sound systems, as well as the installation of screens throughout the catwalk,” stated the note released by the city.
Rodrigo Braz Vieira, a Carioca and director of Rio-based tour operator Bravietour explained the shock, “Since 1932 we officially celebrate the Carnival parades of Rio de Janeiro, from the very first parade won by Mangueira, there has never been a real risk of the parades being canceled, as the next one in 2018 due to the announced funding cut by the Mayor of Rio.”
He adds, “Carnival has, besides its great culture importance for Rio and the whole of Brazil […], an expectation for both locals and foreign visitors that book travel to Rio especially to see the world known parade. Above all Carnival generates an enormous income and jobs, directly and indirectly.”
In its statement on social media LIESA officials noted the ‘economic, financial, and income generation, as well as the increased positive visibility of the city of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil’ the samba parade brings to the city.
The entity argues that the cut of fifty percent of the resources will have serious consequences in the production of the event, making the high-quality parades unviable.