RIO DE JANEIRO – Artists of the Brazilian Symphonic Orchestra (OAB) and the ballet of the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater put on a free performance in the street Tuesday in protest against the non-payment of their salaries and against the crisis driving this Brazilian state into bankruptcy.
A free concert by one of Brazil’s most prestigious orchestras, together with chorus and ballet presentations, attracted crowds Tuesday morning to Cinelandia, the downtown plaza in Rio de Janeiro in front of the Municipal Theater and which has typically been the scene of political demonstrations.
The performances were announced on social networks and the reason given for the artists’ ire was that they have not been paid since last February.
The show put on by the artists on the steps of the theater was opened by the chorus singing the National Anthem, followed by the orchestra playing works by Beethoven, Orff and Bizet.
Artists of the Municipal Theater are among the public employees most affected by the crisis that forced the Rio de Janeiro government to declare a state of financial emergency last July, shortly before the Olympic Games in this city.
Besides protesting about overdue salaries, those taking part in the street performance asked for donations of non-perishable food items for some of their colleagues who are going through some very hard times.
“We’ve come to the point where some artists haven’t even enough money to come to work. Many are in debt and are asking for loans to buy food,” said Pedro Olivero, president of the Municipal Theater Employees Union.
The protesters handed out a declaration denouncing “the complete disorganization, chaos and financial misery caused by the continuous non-payment of salaries.”
“A society that pays its taxes deserves the programming of operas, ballets and concerts with the degree of excellence we have always offered. Art is a necessity of life, it is a basic right of every human being and is essential for a developed society,” the declaration said.