The previous post bragged about exciting contacts with important people, and among them, the mayor of Salvador João Henrique, who has received us several times in his office at City Hall. Little did I know that, more or less at the same time that I was writing the article, the mayor and several city councilmen were making an official visit to the ICBIE!
As soon as Pietro found out about this, he quickly organized a meeting with all the city’s street artists who participate in the Salvador Graffita project, to make the event into a big end-of-year cultural summit, with more than forty people attending, including two famous local artists, Leonel Mattos and Paranaguà. Speaking to the assembled group, the mayor offered his formal thanks for ICBIE’s support of Salvador Graffita, and especially, for our help in organizing the tour to Italy of Julio and Bigode. He also expressed his gratitude to the ICBIE’s Italian team, for their wonderful help and, in particular, for organizing the visit of the two city councilmen, including our friend Tucanaré, who was present at the meeting.
After the art caucus, Mr. Henrique remained, as he wanted to meet all the people on our team. He chatted candidly with Marlene, with Lu, with our sweet and ever-present student Mito, and with all of Julio’s young ICBIE artists. Then Pietro took him on a leisurely tour of the grounds, lingering in our empty theater space, where he told the mayor about our progress in the plans to build a proper building, including the exciting prospects with the Engineers Without Borders, whose central office has approved our project. In the course of the conversation, the mayor inquired about how much assistance we receive from the Italian government, and was flabbergasted to learn that the ICBIE has received no institutional support whatsoever. He asked how we were able to achieve such an effective and dynamic institute, all on our own, and Pietro then told him the whole story, of D’Artagnan and his paintings, of our personal sacrifices, putting our life savings into the building of the ICBIE dream, and of the donations of groups of friends and of schools in Italy, all done in the name of social solidarity, to help the young people of the Cidade baixa.
The mayor, overwhelmed with emotion, was moved nearly to tears, and he left the ICBIE, rubbing his eyes.
In closing, as a New Year’s greeting, here’s a photo taken in a New York City bar, sent to me by our nostalgic and ever-faithful supporter, Mary Norris! Saúde!!!