Who Gets to Make a Living in a Cultural Capital? Music Workers, Musical Urbanity, and São Paulo’s City of Music Legislation

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Daniel J. Gough


This article addresses the interconnectedness of economic livelihoods for music workers and state funding for the arts in São Paulo, Brazil—a center of musical
production, cultural life, and state-directed arts spending. I use the lens of “musical urbanity,” or the distinctive symbolic, material, spatial, and administrative qualities of urban musical sociability, to unpack how music workers understand urbanity as a cultural resource that requires state regulation. As an illustrative case study, this article examines the content of and debate surrounding the City of Music Law, a proposed municipal arts development law (lei de fomento). Stakeholders drafted the legislation specifically in response to the concerns of music workers who find careers difficult to assemble in the city. Advocates of this legislation seek a more equal distribution of state support for music production in São Paulo while leaving aside the financial and bureaucratic concentrations that make such redistributions possible.

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Author Biography

Daniel J. Gough

Daniel Gough is an independent scholar. He can be reached at danielgough@gmail .com.