Greetings. In Brazil, a country that is filled with great potential, great challenges, and large disparities in income and education, the government has launched a bold initiative to increase access to culture. It is an idea intended to make art, music, dance, theatre, films, and books a more important part of the lives of the country’s lowest-income residents. The program is called “Vale Brasil” and it provides people with $20 a month in the form of a “coupon” or debit card that can be used to go to movies, learn to dance or play an instrument, buy a book, visit a museum, or anything else that will stretch their interests, abilities, and cultural appreciation.
Vale Brasil is an intriguing idea that merits all of our attention because it imagines the possibility of opening peoples’ eyes to the wonder all around them and the genius in themselves. Possibilities that are essential if countries like Brazil, and even the U.S. and other “developed” nations, are to ever unlock their full potential and the full potential of all of their citizens.
Clearly there are at least three powerful benefits if this social “innovation” works. First, it will broaden the reach and sense of what is possible for Brazil’s poorest people. Second, it will increase the amount of funding and investment necessary to spark greater development of culture and the arts. Third, it could be a ticket out of poverty for those who use their card to discover and develop their own remarkable gifts in this nation of over 200 million.
Which begs the question of whether it is another government “handout” or a thoughtful and brilliant gift?
And if it does work it could inspire other nations to invest more creatively in their own people.
It might even inspire all of us to re-imagine how we invest in the artistic interests and talents of the people in our companies and organizations as a key to their personal growth, business engagement, retention, and innovation.
$20 a month to open minds and hearts about a remarkable world that seemed just beyond grasp.
Certainly an idea worth paying attention to…and pulling for. And an idea that should cause all of us to think in new ways about our work, civic and personal lives, and the investments we make in ourselves and others.
We win in business, government, and life when we commit to unlocking the curiosity and innate gifts of those around us. And when we see the magic of the arts as an essential part of learning, growing, and making a compelling difference.