We recently received a visit, and a generous donation, from international lodging rentals website Airbnb.
So why would Airbnb want to visit a music school in the middle of a favela?
The reason is that renting rooms via Airbnb is a central part of the financing of our project. I rent out 3 rooms in my house in the favela (which is also where we do our lessons), which puts me in a financial position to be able to work on Favela Brass pretty much full-time on a voluntary basis. I met Carolina Martins from Airbnb São Paulo whilst playing at a samba party in Rio and when Airbnb's head of global citizenship, Mark Levy, decided to make a visit from their head office in San Francisco to see Brazilian charities in Rio, Carolina saw the connection with Favela Brass and the visit was arranged.
After a breakfast laid on especially for us at local restaurant ABCD, our group, which included the Airbnb staff, local Airbnb hosts (there are plenty within the favela), Favela Brass teachers, designer and saxophonist Pedro Pamplona, four of the older children and their grandma, went on to the school. After a short performance from the children on brass and percussion the whole group participated in a samba percussion workshop, with the kids helping to teach the adults the rhythms.
Airbnb didn't just visit our project, however. They also very generously donated sufficient funds to the project for the hire of a professional designer to create a unified visual identity for the project - a logo plus 5 other design applications of our choice, which could include a banner and background for our blog, stickers for our percussion instruments, facebook flyers for our school events, a flag for the project in the classic samba school style, or anything else we can dream up... Designer Pedro Pamplona has even offered to do a giant spray paint version of the logo on our wall!
Although it might seem superficial, a strong visual presence for our project is vital. It provides a very important first impression for those who see the project from outside, and it also helps to unify the project for those who participate in it. In many ways Favela Brass is like a traditional Brazilian samba school that also teaches brass instruments and has a wider musical scope. We aim, like the samba schools (and British brass bands, while we're at it), to bring our community together through music and create a sense of identity around the school. Rio's samba school's strong visual identities (logo, flag, school colours etc..) help them to do just this - I once went to a rehearsal of the Mangueira samba school and saw people queuing up to kiss the school's flag! (although I have to admit I think I found that more scary than inspiring!)
We asked professional designer and musician Pedro Pamplona to do the design work. Here's his initial draft for the new logo which I already think is an absolutely inspired job!
I guess all that remains is to thank all involved for what turned out to be a genuinely special day (In Rio de Janeiro parlance you would say it was "alto astral", that is, good vibes all round!)
Huge thanks, of course, to Airbnb for the very generous donation towards our artwork and to Pedro Pamplona for agreeing to take the job on. Big thanks to restaurant ABCD for going out of their way to open their restaurant up exceptionally for breakfast, and for the lovely spread and delicious selection of tropical juices! Thanks to Favela Brass students Vinícius, Gabriella, Victor-Hugo and Patrick for the great show and help with the percussion workshop, and to their grandma, Aparecida, and Favela Brass teacher Sigrún Jonsdötter for looking after them. Thanks also to local Airbnb hosts Axl Lahaye, Petra Kullnig, Zé Maria, Anna Kahn and Ricardo Bêis for coming along and supporting, and thank you also to Carolina Martins, Mark Levy and all of the Airbnb staff from São Paulo for coming to visit our project and community.
We'll be posting further versions of the logo as it progresses here on the blog and welcome any opinions!
People involved in the visit:
Leonardo Wen (photographer)
Favela Brass Staff:
Pedro Pamplona (designer)
Favela Brass Children and Family:
Marcos Vinícius Casquilho
Gabriella and Victor Hugo Santos Ferreira
Local Airbnb Hosts:
Ze Maria and Petra Kullnig
Claudio e Angela Veríssimo