Thursday, 12 June 2014

Apparently Brazil has spent 14 billion

dollars on hosting this World Cup thing. Now I have no idea how accurate that figure is but that is what was quoted in our news.
In my (not so humble) opinion spending one billion would be too much.
Brazil does not have that sort of money to spend. Poverty is both widespread and severe in Brazil. Soccer may be a national passion there but does it justify that sort of expenditure? A football stadium does not, in the end, feed anyone. It isn't a school where the youngest get educated so they can work in the future. It isn't a hospital which helps people back to health so they can go on working. It isn't an industry which employs people and brings in taxes to support the school and the hospital. It isn't, in the case of Brazil, doing anything to conserve the rainforest and renew it.
Oh yes there is, supposedly, some useful transport infrastructure - but will that monorail be finished after the event? And yes, there will be hordes of visitors for a short time - but will they cover the cost of hosting the event?
My guess is that, just as hosting the Olympics did here in Australia, the event is going to cost Brazil far more than they will get in return.
Australia put in a bid to host one of these events. It apparently cost a lot of money even to put the bid in...and they got one vote. I presume that is because the Aussies put in a vote for themselves. I am not in the slightest bit sorry they lost - and I think it was a waste of money even putting a vote in but I know a lot of people think differently.
I have been thinking about all of this because my home city is about to host another international event. It has been seven years in the planning and yes, they had to put in a bid for it. It is not the sort of event that will cause much excitement. The people who come to it will be craftspeople - and almost all of them will be women. They won't fill the streets with rowdy supporters. They will bring money in. 
The event is the World Lace Congress. If you have got this far I imagine and least some of you reading this will shrug and say "so what?" Lacemaking is not exciting. It is often so slow that an acquaintance once compared it with watching the grass grow. As a craft it is immensely diverse and often extraordinarily beautiful. It can also require great skill.
I sometimes knit lace. Knitting lace is considered to be one of the (much) less skilled forms of the lace maker's art. Even so, I find it difficult. It requires the manipulation of stitches and concentration on a pattern - even one I have designed myself.  When I do try however I probably get at least as much, and possibly more, pleasure out of it as others do watching a soccer match.
There is a difference though - at the end of it those watching the match have only the memories. I have something that lasts.
So, why has the World Lace Congress so far received no publicity at all. It will be here in July. Nothing has so far been said in the media - despite the best efforts of the organisers.
"We are," one of the organisers told me, "competing against the current Cabaret Festival, the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the World Cup."
All of those things are passive entertainment. They require no great effort on the part of the individual. They do not require the learning of a skill. They do not require long term practice. All that is involved is a little short-term excitement, a short-lived feeling of "national pride" and, where children take it up, long term problems with concussion from hitting the ball with their head.
Yes, I know - thousands upon thousands of people even in my home city feel differently. I still wish Brazil had spent that fourteen billion dollars building the future.


jeanfromcornwall said...

My goodness I would like to come to the lace celebrations! I have a collection of examples of lots of different techniques that I have inherited or acquired, and they are wonderful. Nothing quite beats the satisfaction of making an actual physic object which is also beautiful.

catdownunder said...

Talking to the organisers has been interesting Jean - a lot of work and I didn't realise just how much diversity there was!

Helen Devries said...

It's an amazing art with so many variations.
I'm cackhanded and can't make it, but have always been interested and would cfar prefer to visit the lace celebratiosn than encourage the waste of money and hope which major sports events have become.