Descontorno Cultural

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Belo Horizonte

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Main actors

City Government

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2013

Descontorno Cultural seeks to promote and give visibility to the work of cultural agents and artists who work on the peripheries of the city and are a reference in their territories, in addition to celebrating the actions carried out throughout the year in the Municipal Public Cultural Centers of Belo Horizonte. The event happens twice a year, in 17 Cultural Spaces scattered throughout the city, outside of the central region. Local artists are encouraged to apply to take part in Descontorno Cultural in one of the following categories: 

  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual and Audiovisual Arts
  • Literature and promotion of books, reading and writing
  • Popular and Traditional Cultures
  • Urban Popular Cultures
  • Actions aimed at children

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Size and population development
Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest city in Brazil. According to the 2010 census conducted by IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), there were 2,258,096 people residing in the city. The Greater Belo Horizonte Region is the 3rd most populous of Brazil after Greater Sao Paulo and Greater Rio de Janeiro. The city covers a total area of 330.9 km2, while the metropolitan region expands out to 5,156.21 km2with 5,156,217 million residents. Portuguese in the official language of the city. The 2020 IBGE census has been postponed until July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however the IBGE 2019 population estimate for Belo Horizonte was 2,512,070 people.

Population composition
The 2010 census data recorded the population of Belo Horizonte was 53.1% female and 46.9 male. The ethnicity breakdown recorded 46.7% White people, 41.9% Pardo (Multiracial) people, 10.2% Black people, 1.1% Asian people and 0.1% Amerindian people. Belo Horizonte has a notable population of Italian origin, approximately 30% and people of German, Spanish and Syrian-Lebanese ancestries also are sizeable groups. Census data collected on religion showed 59.87% of the population identified as Catholic, 25.06% as Protestant, 8.02% as no religion, and 4.07% as Spiritist.

Main functions
Belo Horizonte is the capital city of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazils second most populous state. The city lies on the western slope of the Espinhaco Mountains, at an elevation of 830 metres and occupies a wide plateau encircled by the Curral del Rey Mountains. Belo Horizonte was one of the first planned cities in Brazil and was designed in a grid pattern with a focus on orderly growth and development. The planning of the city, with street blocks inspired by Paris and architecturally by New York, started in the late 19th century and it was officially founded on December 12, 1897.

Main industries / business
The service sector plays a very important role in the economy of Belo Horizonte, being responsible for 80% of the city's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The city has a developed industrial sector, being traditionally a hub of the Brazilian siderurgical and metallurgical industries, as the state of Minas Gerais is very rich in minerals, particularly iron ore. The city’s older established industries include publishing, textiles, furniture, auto parts and food processing. More recently a large number of small enterprises in the technological sector, particularly in the fields of computing and biotechnology have emerged.

Administrative structure
Belo Horizonte is governed by a mayor and vice mayor with the assistance of secretaries who head administrative departments. Since 1984 the mayor has been popularly elected to a four-year term. The Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte comprises 34 municipalities.

Descontorno Cultural is a cultural circuit, created and promoted by the city’s administration, and it seeks to decentralize Belo Horizonte’s art production. Belo Horizonte has rich cultural traditions, but its most popular artistic and cultural events happen or are located in the south-central regions of the city. In this context, it is important that the city’s administration creates mechanisms to boost artistic work and cultural production in the other regions of the metropolis.

With that in mind, Descontorno Cultural integrates the City Hall’s public policies on access, decentralization and formation, and it has two main objectives.

First, Descontorno Cultural aims to strengthen and give visibility to the work of artists from the city's peripheries, by giving them a platform to perform or display their craft, and paying them accordingly. The event contemplates artists in different stages of maturity, thus offering opportunities for newcomers to specialize and experiment.

Furthermore, the event, which happens twice a year, also seeks to celebrate and promote the actions carried out throughout the year in Belo Horizonte’s 17 Municipal Cultural Centers. These Centers are public facilities designed to develop and exercise cultural rights and promote citizenship through actions in the areas of training, publicity, dissemination and promotion of literature, as well as recognizing and valuing the memory and heritage of the city’s local identities. They are an integral part of Belo Horizonte’s cultural infrastructure, as they guarantee the access of a large segment of the city’s population to spaces of cultural production. 


Descontorno Cultural is part of Belo Horizonte’s Cultural Fostering, Incentives and Development Program, as well as its Access, Democratization and Diversity Policy. It is designed, organized and implemented twice a year by the Municipal Culture Foundation, alongside of Ouro Negro Cultural and Artistic Association, which is a private non-profit organization that seeks to be the main link between the community and its constitutional rights of access to culture, leisure, well-being and entrepreneurship.

Through a public call for applications, these two organizations select the dozens of artists who will be part of the event in the 17 Municipal Cultural Centers. The applying artists are chosen in seven categories, each with their own specifications: music; performing arts; visual and audiovisual arts; literature and promotion of books, reading and writing; popular and traditional cultures; urban popular cultures; and actions aimed at children.

The funding for Descontorno Cultural is provided for in the budget of the Municipal Secretariat of Culture, which allocates the resources for the Municipal Foundation of Culture to carry out the event’s implementation.


Descontorno Cultural has yielded significant results and impacts on Belo Horizonte's cultural scene. By showcasing the work of cultural agents and artists from the city's peripheries and various territories, the exhibition has helped give visibility and recognition to these often marginalized voices. It has provided a platform for local communities to come together and celebrate their cultural heritage, fostering a sense of pride and identity. The emphasis on diversity and inclusion has promoted a more equitable cultural landscape, encouraging dialogue and understanding between different cultural groups. Additionally, the exhibition has contributed to the economic development of the city by providing opportunities for local artists to showcase their work and generate income for themselves.

Moreover, the exhibition has strengthened the city's cultural infrastructure by supporting the Municipal Public Cultural Centers and providing them with a platform to showcase their programming. It has also promoted the importance of cultural participation and engagement, encouraging the community to take an active role in shaping their cultural landscape. Overall, Descontorno Cultural has had a positive impact on Belo Horizonte's cultural life, promoting diversity, inclusivity, and community engagement.


One of the main challenges faced by Descontorno Cultural is the logistical complexity of organizing simultaneous events in 17 different Municipal Cultural Centers across the city. The organization includes coordinating schedules, logistics, and communication between the different locations. Additionally, ensuring that each center is adequately equipped and prepared to host the event requires careful planning and coordination. Another challenge is the limited financial resources available for the event. 

Furthermore, reaching and engaging audiences from the city's peripheries and diverse communities can be challenging. Efforts to promote the event and ensure its accessibility to all residents must be ongoing and targeted to specific communities. Lastly, the event also faces challenges related to sustainability and long-term impact.


One of the key lessons learned from Descontorno Cultural is the importance of community engagement and collaboration in cultural initiatives. The event's success relies heavily on the participation and support of local communities, as well as partnerships with cultural institutions and organizations. This highlights the importance of building strong relationships with stakeholders and involving them in the planning and implementation of cultural programs.

Another important lesson is the value of flexibility and adaptability in responding to challenges and changing circumstances. Descontorno Cultural has had to adapt its format and activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the importance of being able to pivot and adjust plans as needed. The transferability of these lessons to other cultural initiatives is significant. The experience of Descontorno Cultural demonstrates that community engagement, collaboration, and adaptability are key factors in the success of cultural programs.

These lessons can be applied to other cities and communities looking to decentralize their cultural offerings and promote local artistic talent.

Descontorno Cultural has been a valuable learning experience, highlighting the importance of community engagement, collaboration, and adaptability in cultural initiatives. These lessons can inform future cultural programs and initiatives, both in Belo Horizonte and beyond.


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Belo Horizonte City Hall
Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Belo Horizonte City Hall


Jakki Mann
Melbourne , Australia

Jakki Mann

Individual | Content Curator

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