‘We just push and push with our fire to make change across Brazil…’ Felipe Altenfelder, Fora Do Eixo
When three University students in the city of Cuiabá, Brazil, became frustrated that most opportunities for musicians and artists were confined to Rio and Sao Paulo, they decided to create a community to support the music scene in their hometown.
The students, Pablo Capile, Talles Lopes and Felipe Altenfelder, called their collective Espaco Cubo. They had no idea that this project would go on to become the largest cultural movement in Brazil today, known as Circuito Foro Do Eixo (The Off-Axis Circuit) or simply Foro Do Eixo (FdE). Constantly evolving and hard to define, FdE is a network of musicians, artists, festivals, collectives, and cultural venues, which reaches out to the periphery of Brazil and proposes alternatives to the traditional Brazilian music scene.
Espaco Cubo, enabled musicians to rehearse and record through a system of exchange
economy: swapping their skills for studio time. The musicians would build websites, run the bar at a gig or engineer in the studio. The public brought money into the system by buying tickets to watch the bands. Soon a vibrant music scene developed in Cuiabá. This was the birth of Fora Do Eixo.
The founders of FdE shared their ideas freely and soon producers and musicians in different cities organised similar systems. They set up casas (houses) where the FdE community could live and eat for free in exchange for using their skills to collaborate on projects. FdE now have their own ‘complementary economy’ with a Collective Bank and currency, the Card Cubo, which enables them to generate millions each year for the independent music scene.
Fora Do Eixo Statistics
- 200 collectives across Brazil
- 2000 employees (of which 1000 are full time)
- The network reaches 8 million people
- Now working across 15 countries
- 6000 shows produced per year
- 30,000 artists circulated
- 150 permanent offices and 300 temporary ones
- Grito Rock takes place in one month in 300 cities and 30 countries
- The network organises 150 tours per year averaging 12 shows per tour
(Stats from Education IPOW, 2012)
In 2007 FdE started Grito Rock, their flagship festival, as an alternative to the infamous Rio Carnival. FdE believed that the Carnival didn’t represent the true cultural variation across Brazil, particularly the rock, metal and electronic music scenes. Grito Rock was hugely popular and quickly spread across Brazil and then beyond – in 2014 Grito Rock events were hosted in 500 cities across the world. It is globally recognised as a platform for the exchange of production technology and knowledge and a space where independent producers can connect.
If Grito Rock is more than a music festival it is because FdE is more than a creative collective; it is a socio-cultural movement that responds to the changing needs of its community. They have even set up their own education system, the University, where new generations of artists and producers can learn organically by participating in projects.
In 2011, during public protests in Sao Paulo, FdE members used their online platforms to broadcast live footage of what was happening on the streets. They believed that the public needed a voice in response to the reportage of the traditional media channels. This idea of citizen journalism became Midia Ninja. Midia Ninja became widely respected for their extensive, up-close reporting during protests triggered by the Confederacy Cup in 2013 and World Cup in 2014.
In Place of War, a UK based organisation that supports artists in sites of conflict, has been working with FdE over the past five years – joining them on the frontline during the 2013-2014 protests - and helping to share their ideas across the world. Later this year In Place of War will take twenty young African cultural leaders to Brazil to experience FdE’s ‘casas’ and the systems they have put into place, to see how it could work across the Sub-Saharan African continent.
The FdE story is still unfolding; as it grows it continues to change the lives of aspiring musicians and artists in Brazil and beyond. You can keep up with developments here:
At Shambala 2015, In Place of War presented a line-up of acts from Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Burundi and Kurdistan performing a range of styles from dancehall to hip-hop to traditional rhythms of the Caribbean.
Inspired by the FdE movement and its success, Jeff Thompson, co-founder of Un-Convention and the Future Artists Live Creative Co-op, decided to set up a similar collective network of artists here in the UK. Formed in 2014, the Off Axis Touring Network now has bands and artists from over 50 towns and cities across the UK.
“It’s a system based on camaraderie and mutual benefit, rather than industry gatekeepers. It means artists can focus on what is achievable and viable, in building their local audience, but at the same time creating opportunities for other artists who share their ethos. It’s a win win system in that regard. It opens up almost every town and city in the country as a viable touring destination.” Jeff Thompson, co-founder of the Future Artists Live Creative Co-op