The Ele D’Artagnan project
To promote understanding, integration and cultural exchange between Italy and Brazil, the ICBIE works on two levels. First, it serves the large and ever-growing Italian community residing in the city of Salvador, the state of Bahia and the nation of Brazil. Italian culture is kept alive through seminars on Italian history, promotions of the nation’s products and gastronomy, film forums, poetry readings, art and photography exhibitions and concerts, all expressly in the Italian language, as well as providing information regarding travel, residence papers, enrollment in schools and work in Italy and, inversely, for Italians who wish to reside, work or study in Brazil, including the study of Portuguese. Second, the ICBIE offers Brazilians the opportunity to learn about Italy, by studying the Italian language, by meeting with our Italian teachers, artists and guests, by partaking in the same cultural events and by offering the same travel information that are given to the Italian community. Furthermore, the ICBIE organizes trips to Italy for its best students.
The centerpiece of the D’Artagnan Project is the International School of Arts and Languages, which offers formal courses in computer technology, foreign languages (mainly Italian and English), visual arts, theater, music and hapkido. This instruction is provided to worthy children, adolescents and young adults, without discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age, social class, political convictions or, especially, on the ability to pay for that instruction. The primary focus is to disseminate Italian and European culture to the Brazilian community, providing concrete skills that allow students to gain an advantage in the local job market, while expanding their artistic and cultural horizons. In the future, the ICBIE plans to expand the scope of its courses, building studios for music recording and video production, so local youths will be able to learn to used advanced technologies that, at the same time, will document and disseminate the rich local culture.
To enrich the breadth of the educational program, formal courses are complimented by seminars in photography, filmmaking, dance, fashion design, handicrafts, cuisine, literature and poetry, where visiting professors and artists can share their knowledge with the local community. These encounters allow for an exciting exchange of ideas, where European and native cultures can come face to face, producing a mutual enrichment through friendship and dialog.
The D’Artagnan Project offers the inestimable cultural patrimony of The Leonardo da Vinci International Library of Art, Music and Languages, with its vast archive of more than 12,000 books, videos, and music CDs. The collection, with texts primarily in the Italian language, but also in Portuguese, English, French, German and Spanish, contains many works that are of fundamental importance to world culture, many of which have not yet been translated in Portuguese, ranging from literature and literary criticism to theater, cinema, music, fine arts, philosophy and psychology. Due to inadequate staffing, this unique treasure is currently available for consultation by appointment only, but it will be opened to the public as soon as sufficient human and financial resources are found.
The cultural program of the D’Artagnan Project is complimented by a rich calendar of art and photography exhibits, concerts and lectures, given by visiting artists, scholars and musicians. These events are unique cultural opportunities in the disadvantaged cidade baixa, the sprawling low city of Salvador, with a population of 180,000. While the ICBIE presently offers a beautiful exposition hall for these events, its capacity of 60-70 seats is inadequate, and future plans focus on the construction of a proper venue on the property immediately behind the Institute, The Amerigo Vespucci Theater, with 300 seats, where film projections, plays, concerts and other events can be hosted. An architectural plan has already been prepared by Giovanni Cerfogli of Modena, based upon suggestions by the architect and artist Luigi Serafini.
The D’Artagnan Project functions as a working base (with lodgings), orienting Italian and European visitors who wish to work as volunteers, as socially responsible tourists, or as direct participants in the D’Artagnan Project, connecting them with the realities of the local community. The ICBIE fosters rapports of friendship and cultural exchange between Italian/European social workers and NGOs and the Brazilian students and artists who frequent our Institute, so that they can learn by directly exchanging experiences and professional skills. The goal is also to introduce valid European professionals to students who, because of poverty, live on the margins of society, bringing them off the streets to overcome the serious forms of ignorance that are at the root of social marginalization and violence, that block the economic development of the weakest communities. These operations, open to the projects of artists, associations and international NGOs are encouraged and nurtured by the ICBIE.
The ICBIE offers legal and cultural logistical support to both Italian and European associations and local groups that work in orphanages, favelas, nursery schools and schools for abandoned or disabled children. The ICBIE has connected a Dutch art gallery with the capoeira school ASCAFISON, which works in the awful slums of the Alagados; it has coordinated the efforts of the Elementary School of Bassano del Grappa, Italy as it helped the Escolinha o Semente do Saber of Massaranduba; and has connected the American Overseas School of Rome and an anonymous donor in Switzerland, helping in the renovation of the Minha Vo Flor orphanage in Ribeira.