Portugal went further than any other European country in cutting its arts and culture budget: It eradicated its Ministry of Culture. Many of the nation’s artists have left the country in fury.
Some, however, have turned to other means to protest. A street art scene has developed in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon in the past few decades, and involvement has seen an upsurge in response to the government’s austerity measures. The train yards of the city run rampant with graffiti, and buildings have been tagged with a sort of informal retribution.
Lisbon’s city council has actually encouraged the street art phenomenon. The council has gone so far as to create safe spaces for street artists, such as the Galeria de Arte Urbana on Calçada da Glória and in abandoned buildings throughout the city. The majority of these areas are free and open to the public, and there are several tour groups that go through these areas.
Other corners of Europe have succeeded in dodging the austerity bullet. Le Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, a well-known Belgian opera house, was forced to get creative due to governmental belt tightening. However, under an acclaimed management team, the opera house has maintained their rigorous performance schedule that the public is used to even after reducing their staffing levels by 15 percent.
In part due to these efforts, the opera house was named Opera House of the Year by the German magazine, Opernwelt. It is the first time this recognized distinction has been given to a non-German opera house.
“There are institutions and artists that can be relied upon to do an extremely good job, that put our country on the international map and are a good advertisement for our federal state and our communities,” said Peter de Caluwe in a statement on La Monnaie’s website. “La Monnaie, along with many others, is a perfect example of this.”
Tickets to the opera’s shows are available online as well as at the box office. Prices range from around $12.50 to $220.00, depending on the euro/dollar conversion rate.