The University of São Paulo is experimenting with “creative currency,” raising virtual cash that can be converted into Brazilian reais to fund culture projects that are very real indeed.
SÃO PAULO - After the 2008 financial crisis raised doubts about the current monetary system, the search for currency alternatives are gaining momentum.
At the University of São Paulo, a project has been launched to develop so-called "creative currency" – virtual monetary units used on the Internet, which can be converted into Brazilian reais. The ultimate goal is to use the converted cash to fund education and cultural projects, including several film productions.
The project received an initial 100,000 reais ($53,000) investment from Brazil Development Bank (BNDES). It includes a new fund that will gather money from participants and handle the initial exchange into the new "creative currency." The conversion rate has not yet been established yet.
With a wink, the fund has been dubbed the Imaginary Monetary Fund (IMF), and counts a starting base of 150,000 reais ($80,000). "To get started with the funding, we need 7 million reais ($3.7 million) over the next three years through a number of mechanisms, such as donations and investments', says Gilson Schwartz, professor at the University's School of Arts and Communication.
Gilson says there are already five movies that will be shot using resources from the new fund, with a total cost of some 3.5 million reais ($1.86 million).
"This kind of idea also helps to avoid waste," says Schwartz. "For example, a bakery may stipulate that, from a certain time every day, unsold breads will be sold using creative currency."
Beginning Sunday, a three-day conference on creative currencies will be held at Museum of Image and Sound in São Paulo. Three virtual currencies that have begun to circulate on an experimental basis will be presented during the event. For starters, the currencies have creative names: "wisdom" (for personal education development), "talent" (for practical activities, such as writing blogs), and "joy" (for entertainment).
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