Excluded structures go to court to suspend results of DGArtes tenders | Culture

Thirteen artistic structures delivered this Wednesday at the Lisbon Administrative Court an injunction aimed at partially suspending the effects of the results of the 2023/2026 Sustained Support Program of the Direcção-Geral das Artes (DGArtes).

These entities are part of the Group of Structures Injured by the Ministry of Culture, a total of 18, who claim in a statement released at 8 pm this Wednesday that they were “forced to put the State in court”, after having applied for the competitions. in the biennial modality, without obtaining support, despite being considered eligible.

The Ministry of Culture, contacted by the Lusa agency, said at 8:30 pm this Wednesday that “it has not been notified so far” and the director general of Arts, Américo Rodrigues, said, at the same time, that he was not aware of the actions, when questioned by Lusa.

The delivery of the precautionary measure presupposes its assessment by a judge for its acceptance and whether or not it will have immediate effect, taking place in parallel with the legal action aimed at contesting the tenders, promoted by the 18 structures of the group.

The 13 structures that filed the injunction are: Teatro Meia Volta and Afterwards à Esquerda Quero Eu Disser, Campos Costa architects – Radio gallery antechamber, Minutos Redondos and Teatro do Silêncio, all in Lisbon; Associação Cultbéria, from Serpa, Associação Divino Sospiro, from Alcochete, Astro Fingido from Porto, CARB – Cooperativa Artística da Raia Beirã, from Figueira de Castelo de Rodrigo, Cegada Grupo de Teatro, from Vila Franca de Xira, Pausa Possível, from Viseu, Pirilampo Artes, from Lousada, Ritornello, from Coimbra, and Space Ensemble, from Paredes de Coura.

The Group of Structures Damaged by the Ministry of Culture also includes Arena Ensemble and Associação Intervalo do Tempo, from Lisbon, Cortéxcult, from Arraiolos, Imaginar do Gigante, from Ovar, and Pé de Pano, from Castelo de Vide.

The 2023/2026 Sustained Support Program tenders have been contested by various associations representing the Culture sector, giving rise to several appeals to the Minister of Culture, to petitions and to a “Protest for the Arts”, which joined in January a few hundred professionals in front of Parliament, during a hearing by the Minister of Culture, Pedro Adão e Silva.

When applications opened in May last year, the six tenders had allocated a global amount of 81.3 million euros.

In September, the Minister of Culture announced that this amount would increase to 148 million euros. However, the reinforcement covered only the four-year competition modality. At the time, the minister mentioned that there had been a large transfer of candidacies from the four-year to the biennial modality.

In November, however, when DGArtes began to publish the provisional results of the six competitions, these immediately began to be contested, namely because there was no migration of applications from one modality to the other and there was a great asymmetry of results between the two modalities.

Once the numbers were known, it became clear that around half of the structures eligible for support, in the biennial modality, were left out due to lack of financial resources, and that almost all eligible candidacies, in the four-year modality, obtained support.

What does this group ask for?

The Group of Structures Damaged by the Ministry of Culture wants “the principles of stability of the tender, proportionality and impartiality through the reinforcement of support for the biennial line, in the amount of 2.4 million euros per year, during the two-year period 2023/2024, to guarantee the viability of the work on the structures”.

The structures claim, in the statement released this Wednesday, that this measure “would also reduce the number of applications to the Project Support Programme, without prejudice to those that are, in fact, of a one-off nature”.

The group reinforces that, “to guarantee equality in the distribution of support between biennial and four-year candidacies, it was required that the reinforcement of funding maintain the initial proportionality between the two lines of support”.

In addition, it points out that “the decision to reinforce only four-year support was taken based on knowledge of the candidacies presented, in violation of the principle of impartiality”. “The necessary impartiality in the evaluation of applications imposed the maintenance of the conditions of the competition, regarding the distribution of funding between four-year and two-year grants”, underline the structures.

The group recalls that “the strategy defined by the candidates for the contests was defined based on certain assumptions, which ‘changed in the middle of the game’, for the exclusive benefit of those who applied for four-year support and to the detriment of all 18 structures that now contested the competitions in court”.

In the communiqué, it is highlighted that “the contestation of the contests is not centered on the evaluation of a jury – as was conveyed several times by the Minister of Culture Pedro Adão e Silva, in response to the protests —, rather, aiming at repairing an illegality that seriously compromises the Portuguese cultural fabric, which affects structures spread throughout the national territory and which may have a temporary impact over the next eight years”.

The injured structures warn that “the subsistence of structures duly rooted in local communities, with a very intense activity, which assumed commitments with municipalities, workers and service providers and whose fulfillment is now at risk”, is at stake.

The group assumes that recourse to the courts, “against an illegal decision”, may “transiently compromise” other artistic structures, something it regrets.

“We did everything to lessen these consequences and we believe that the Ministry of Culture will know how to find a solution that restores legality and that, at the same time, safeguards the positions of the structures to which four-year support has been granted. This is because the satisfaction of the claim of these 18 structures can be obtained without affecting the rights of structures subject to four-year support, through the proportional reinforcement of the funds allocated to biennial support”, says the group.

The Group believes that the legal action “can correct not only the serious situation that has taken place in the national artistic sector, but can also have a propaedeutic character, contributing to a better exercise of democracy”.

“We express our willingness to dialogue with the Ministry of Culture, in order to find a solution that, while safeguarding the interests of our structures, promotes equity in the distribution of support and contributes to the promotion and development of culture”, he concludes.

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