In Portugal, the field of culture is perhaps one of the ones that suffer the most from a lack of support. Workers often cannot get a steady work contract, short-term contracts that sometimes end after a soap opera is recorded, or until the play leaves the scene.
During the pandemic, the artists' economic difficulties worsened, due to the lack of shows and support, such as unemployment benefit, which is not awarded to cultural workers because most are paid via green receipts. However, the support given by the state is minimal, not reaching one percent of the state budget. In 2022, the allocated amount corresponds to 0.4 percent of the budget.
In old age, due to the way artists are paid, retirement allowance is insufficient to survive. As such, several artists work to add some more money to their budget, which sometimes does not even reach €300. To overcome these difficulties, Portugal followed a Brazilian idea, and several Portuguese artists created the Casa do Artista, an association that, among various services, offers residency to artists who seek help from the association, currently chaired by the actor José Raposo.
Casa do Artista was founded on September 11, 1999 and is located in Lisbon and houses retired artists who seek to live the rest of their lives in fullness and harmony, while being able to socialise with former co-workers.
Helena Vieira is one of the retired artists who resides in the Senior Residence of Casa do Artista. Helena Vieira was a Portuguese actress and singer, with a career that focused mainly on theatre and opera singing, having dedicated herself to teaching singing later. The actress explained to The Portugal News about what led her to ask for support from Casa do Artista. The loneliness caused by the "death of her mother" and the distance from her children led the singer to ask for support from the institution, as she was economically unable to rent a house alone and it was in the Casa do Artista "that [she] could find all her comfort." Because she feels so welcomed, Helena Viera is already part of “the social bodies to help take” the project further.
It has already been mentioned that Helena Vieira is now retired after finishing her career as a singer and actress and highlights as the biggest obstacle "the lack of monetary support" and artists who are forced to work independently and recalling that while working, the problem was always linked to monetary issues. Helena Vieira also states that there must be “an extensive study” so that the State understands what kind of support artists in Portugal need. The singer told The Portugal News that to facilitate the cultural sector, the State must understand "that a country without culture is not a real country" and that support must be given regardless of whether, for example, music is used for political campaigns or not, she reinforced this saying that “artists are not just needed to sing at the ball when a certain political campaign is taking place.”
Apoiarte – Casa do Artista, in addition to the Senior Residence service, oversees other infrastructures such as Teatro Armando Cortez, Galeria Raul Solnado and the Training Centre. The theatre Teatro Armando Cortez, in 2001, was licensed to present shows that touched any branch of culture, including television programmes. Galeria Raul Solnado, in addition to functioning as an art exhibition, is also a suitable space for hosting parties and dinners. Finally, Apoiarte manages a training centre with 10 different rooms, with the aim of teaching dance, music and even singing.
The Portugal News, contacted the director of Casa do Artista, José Raposo, however at the time of going to press no answers had been given.
Apoiarte – Casa do Artista accepts donations from those who want to support those who cannot get the support they deserve from the competent entities. To make a donation, people can go to the official website www.casadoartista.net and donate online. It can be done by bank transfer to IBAN PT50 0036 0000 9910 5890 2632 1, or a cheque can be sent to the address: Estrada da Pontinha, 7 1680-583 – Lisbon, Portugal.