In recent years, the Amarante Municipality, dealing with the process of development and rehabilitation of its city, has taken special interest in culture and creativity as components for a responsible municipal improvement (on urban, economic, social and environmental terms) and promotion on an international level.
The music field has taken a major role in this process, as a result of Amarante’s habitual practices, dynamics, groups and events. Thus the city’s strategy is set on several policies and measures supporting growth in the local music sector, which itself crosses with and integrates economic, social and cultural actions for the city and for the whole municipality.
Attracting business and qualified professionals and creatives is nowadays one of the major priorities in the Municipal strategy, and this is possible through the program developed by InvestAmarante. InvestAmarante has looked for ways to stimulate investment within Amarante’s territory, giving special attention to the prioritized sectors, though certainly not disregarding others that are vital to municipal economic vitality, such as Agriculture, Construction, Metalworking, Textiles, Footwear, Tourism, Commerce, Timber, Furniture and the Restaurant business.
Besides InvestAmarante, one must also mention the Instituto Empresarial do Tâmega and the Amarante’s cowork space, giving support to businesses, creatives and professionals active in the fields of the arts, culture and creativity.
Meanwhile, the Amarante Municipality has invested on a local policy of support and promotion of creative work within its territory.
Some funding decisions should be named for their improvements on music education, practice and dissemination in Amarante: the support to Orquestra do Norte, a professional structure based in the city; the backing of diverse cultural associations that promote amateur musicianship – philharmonic bands, groups folklore, etc. – materialized in the purchase of equipment and in exploration and internationalization subsidies. These measures contributed to these groups’ ability in providing for the development and training of their musicians, whom frequently decide to enroll in further artistic education and professionalization.
The existence of support mechanisms for the emergence of new bands in Amarante should also be referred.
These result from the financing of Amarante’s Casa da Juventude, so that it can open its professional level facilities for rehearsal and recording, free of charge or at a meager price. Also Band’arte, an annual festival promoted by a partnership between the municipality and local institutions, has consolidated this effort on the support of young musicians.
Other kinds of actions exist such as direct assistance in artistic education students’ transportation, namely music and dance students, assuring that all of those needed have equal access conditions.
Finally, as other means to support creative work, the City Hall grants prizes for artists of various fields, like the Poetry Prize Teixeira de Pascoaes and the Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso Prize; it participates along with eight other European cities in the Jeune Création Européene, for Visual Arts and Media and Performance Arts; and it supports the publishing and re-publishing of Amarante’s native authors.
There is also a clear Municipal strategy set on improving Amarante’s urban quality of life. The city’s historical center has been target for several interventions in recent years which bettered public space, heritage and built estate.
Also in this context, the support and promotion of cultural events, frequently under co-production conditions, is a crucial element for an improved access to culture for the general population and a further factor contributing to the attractiveness of Amarante. Indeed, the City Hall has consistently supported the invitation and production of regular national and international events, while at the same time investing in music programming and in qualifying city venues for holding events.
On this level, music in the city has reaped benefits, as one can see the frequent organizations of festivals and events, covering a broad array of genres, like jazz, world music, Portuguese traditional music, rock, electronic music, hip hop, and others.
It’s relevant to mention, on another sphere, the role performed by Amarante’s Plano de Acção de Regeneração Urbana (PARU), which broadly aims “the improving and furthering of urban tissue and public space requalification, contributing for the enhancement and development of a more attractive, competitive and environmentally sustainable city”.
Within the grasp of PARU, some rehabilitation projects will affect the fostering of cultural and creative dynamics in Amarante: the main one is the restoration of the Cine-Theatre of Amarante, but there is also the recovery of the facilities of the Municipal Market, still in an early stage, in which music will have a relevant effect on its “new life”.
Simultaneously, there are other projects aimed at the enhancement and recovery of the city’s musical heritage, such as the recent rehabilitation of four Iberian pipe organs (present in three churches in the city center), themselves being a subject of interest, education and artistic practice in their own right.
This has been a noteworthy strategy of promotion and enhancement of culture and creativity as ways towards an urban sustainable development in Amarante, a strategy which reflects a serious and consequent political commitment, materialized in a steady municipal investment in this field.
Amarante’s overall plan has effects on many different levels, such as a musical and performative literacy of its general population, the capacity for the city to generate economic activity and business from music and other creative fields, thus creating value for the city.
It is also notable how the many public events and festivals have contributed to the city’s attractiveness and international visibility.
Lastly, Amarante’s strategy will enable the possibility of a ‘clustering’ effect in its cultural and creative tissue, as it flocks to the city center more and more agents and activities from the cultural field, specially related to music. One can mention the upgrade of its teaching and training framework, or the drawing in of business and events, materialized for example, in the support of spaces dedicated to the creation and management of music careers.
”[Amarante] has enormous cultural potential, not only because of the Orquestra’s [do Norte] presence, but by its endogenous potential, its popular institutions. but most of all, because all this myriad of orchestras, bands (…) give the city a cultural dynamic.”
José Ferreira Lobo
Artistic Director and Hear Maestro of Orquestra do Norte
“I fell there are growing numbers of small children, adolescents, adults and elders who are fond of music.”
Member of Drums Group
“We have 146 students financed by the Ministry of Education. We would like, and there’s hope that we can give a chance to all students in Amarante municipality to enrol in music classes.”
Professor Taí Laranjeira
CCA Executive Director