Public policies and productive systems of creative economy: the case of the FIA Project (Artisans Workshop)

Luciana Lima Guilherme

Federal University of Rio de Janeiro - UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Raquel Viana Gondim

University of Fortaleza – UNIFOR, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro University – UTAD, Vila Real, Portugal.


The FIA (Artisans' Workshop) project is a creative economy initiative that helps to broaden the understanding of new ways and methodologies to create, produce and market creative goods and services in the field of authorial fashion. As a result from the Municipality of Sobral's (CE) action, the FIA Project was used as a study of this case and through it the issues related to public policy, state-network and production systems were analyzed, as well as the sector's economic dynamics, impacted by a new logic of production and consumption. Finally, despite the understanding that entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation go together as pillars for the development of differentiated creative products, with the power to create new niches and generators of local and regional development opportunities, the Sobral government did not ensure, in its constitution, the creation and maintenance of a network composed by public and private agents to ensure the medium and long term continuity of initiatives such as the FIA Project.

Keywords: Creative economics; Public policies; State-network; Production systems; Independet Fashion.


The debate about the formulation and implementation of public policies in the field of creative economy, besides being relevant, has evidenced the need for a complex and transversal vision on the part of the public manager. A complex vision, considering that public management requires the use of multiple mechanisms of democratic participation and collective construction in the process of formulating policies that aim to be effective in terms of solving specific issues and problems of this field; A transversal vision to understand the theme within a multidisciplinary perspective, relating culture, technology, science and economics, and integrating policies from multiple folders and institutions.

If the creative sectors are configured in systems and productive arrangements within their economic dynamics, the state also needs to be structured as a network to meet the multiple demands of the creative sectors, when formulating policies.

In this work we will analyze the creative economy's potential from the perspective of the authorial fashion, from the case study of the FIA Project (artisans’ workshop), promoted by the Solidarity Economy nucleus in the Social Development and Fight against Extreme Poverty Secretary, of the Municipality of Sobral (Ceará) in 2015. The Municipality of Sobral, through this Secretary, develops projects in the perspective of local development with the strengthening of productive groups focused on crafts.

In this way, this article is structured in 6 topics: the introduction, presented here; a topic about creative economics and authorial fashion, presenting concepts and development potentials; another topic on public policies and state-network, demonstrating the need to formulate and implement integrated public policies; the following topic on productive systems and networks of the fashion economy in Ceará; the case study itself; and, finally, the final considerations.


It is common to use the concepts of culture economy and creative economy without clarity concerning their distinction, since both deal with economic issues associated with the cultural field; their overlapping is common. Historically, the culture economy has been delimited as a field of knowledge whose object is constituted from the analysis of the economic dynamics in the artistic cultural sectors, taking into account aspects that are associated with its relations with the state, with the patronage and with the cultural industries (Miguez, 2007).

The concept of creative economy is more recent and has been gaining strength since the last decade of the twentieth century, when it gradually established itself from the understanding of creativity as the engine of development processes based on the synthesis between economy, culture technology and science (UNESCO, 2012).

Added to this understanding of macroeconomic nature, the creative economy has also been analyzed and understood in terms of a sectoral approach, such as an extension of the concept of cultural economy, encompassing, besides the traditional cultural sectors of the arts (music, dance, circus, visual arts, cinema, etc.), sectors related to information and communication technologies with cultural and creative content (digital games, animation, software and application development, etc.) and cultural-based sectors related to the traditional industry (fashion design, graphic design, furniture design, architecture and advertising).

In this perspective, the article presented here will assume these approaches in an analytical way: the creative economy[1], understood as process and development dynamics synthesized in the meeting between economy, culture, technology and science (Unctad, 2012); and the creative economy as economic dynamics "resulting from the cultural, social and economic dynamics built from the cycle of creation, production, distribution/ circulation/ diffusion and consumption/ fruition of goods and services from the creative sectors, characterized by the prevalence of their symbolic dimension "(Brasil, 2012).

It is important to emphasize the contribution of the Creative Economy (SEC) Secretary, to deepen the concept of "Brazilian creative economy" adopted in this article, that is, a concept of creative economy attentive to specific issues related to the country's own characteristics. In this thought, the definition of four guiding principles for the formulation of public policies of creative economy in Brazil is worth highlighting (Brasil, 2012):

● Cultural Diversity - Value, protect and promote the diversity of national cultural expressions as a way of ensuring their originality, strength and growth potential.

● Sustainability - Promote the development of the territory and its inhabitants guaranteeing environmental, social, cultural and economic sustainability.

● Innovation - Foster innovation practices in all creative sectors, especially those whose products are the fruit of integration between new technologies and cultural contents.

● Social inclusion - Ensure the integral inclusion of population segments in situation of social vulnerability, through training, professional qualification and the generation of job opportunities, income and also the creation and development of creative enterprises.

In a complementary way, in order to mitigate the main problems blocking the development of the Brazilian creative economy, the SEC identified, in its strategic planning, five problems and challenges to be faced:

Table 1. Problems X Challenges of the Creative Economy in Brazil

Absence of produced and systematized information, data and analysis. Raise, systematize and monitor information and data on the Creative Economy for the formulation of public policies.
Precarious and inadequate business models facing the challenges of creative endeavors; low availability and/or inadequacy of credit lines for financing the activities of the creative sectors. Foster the sustainability of creative enterprises to strengthen their competitiveness and generate jobs and income.
Low supply of training at all levels (technical, vocational and higher) for the creative sectors. To train managers and professionals for the creative sectors in order to qualify the enterprises, goods and services.
Low institutionality of the Creative Economy in the Municipal and State Development Plans, which weakens the dynamics of the economic cycles in creative sectors. Expand the institutionalization of the Creative Economy in the territories, aiming at local and regional development.
Absence, insufficiency and outdating of legal and infralegal frameworks for the development of the creative sectors. Create and adapt legal frameworks to strengthen the creative sectors.

Source: Brasil (2012)

Analyzing the fashion sector, these challenges become evident, especially when we focus on micro and small enterprises and the stages of their productive cycle - creation, production, distribution and consumption (Bastos et al., 2012).

It is necessary to think strategically about the sector, valuing and expanding the offer of education for entrepreneurs and professionals; investing in market and trends research; generating knowledge about the roots of Brazilian culture, raw material for creation; encouraging the hiring of fashion designers by micro and small companies as a way to qualify the creation and development of products; promoting the exchange of knowledge between fashion professionals and traditional communities; supporting studies focused on solutions related to the use and reuse of raw materials; proposing new collaborative business models with potential for articulation and the enhancement of complementary competences.

Faced with this, it is surprising that the country abdicates of its creative potential for 'outdated' means of creation, development and industrialized production. The most sustainable and most interesting route with a real differential for Brazilian fashion is the search for their identities, their cultural diversity, their knowledge and traditions, which are deprecated by a mass industry with little added value, but that is capable of scale production.

Then, the authorial fashion emerges as a possibility for investment and sector differentiation, since it tends to value key elements of design related to the recovery of local values and with focus on sustainability issues, social inclusion, innovation and technology. Thus, the authorial fashion encompasses the fashion produced for daily and luxury consumption, beachwear, underwear fashion, production of accessories, jewelry, footwear and home products (bedclothes, table dressing and towels) (Bastos et al., 2012).


Public policies should be understood as a dynamic process of relations between government and society, between public and private agencies and also institutions, going far beyond a linear perspective, where the public manager has control over all variables necessary for the programs and projects implementation.

Complexity is the space of formulation, elaboration, implementation, execution, monitoring and evaluation of public policies, which requires decision makers and their technical team to have a strategic vision and articulation ability, which ensures prompt answers to the unforeseen.

The definition of priorities is fundamental in the process of elaborating public policies, since it is at this moment that the alternatives of greater impact solution, in balance with the managerial and resource capacities of the public power in the process of policy implementation, are evaluated (Saravia, 2014).

The political, social, cultural and economic context directly impacts on these dynamics that demand argument consistency, influence on the relations, pertinence and right timing to use the windows of opportunity, and entrepreneurial posture of those who seek to insert the subject in the agenda with persuasion and negotiation.

The representations of interests, present in the relations between State and society, also interfere directly in the process of formulating public policies (Lobato, 2006). The participation of civil society is most evident in countries with a consolidated democratic governance regime, where the society shows a more mature approach on debate and participation in the process of formulating public policies.

Democracy is still very fragile in Brazil, and despite the fact that civil society has matured in participatory processes, in recent years, the current economic and political instability has promoted setbacks, either in the promotion of citizenship or even in the expansion of channels and ways to bring the relations between the State and society closer. However, the understanding of public policy networks from the understanding of their action systems, allows an analysis of the generated devices coherence within this cooperation dynamics and exchange. Thus, the analysis of the political order shifts from the separation between State and society to these autonomous social spaces, which are the networks, made up of public and private actors, whose interests converge.

The network is thus a potential for results from the moment it integrates common efforts and interests. The network expands the production of knowledge from the sharing of information, experiences and projects (Saravia, 2002). The networks appear as potential partners in the effectiveness of public policies. And it is up to the public power to recognize its role in the formulation and implementation of policies, defining channels of dialogue and systematic participation beyond those established informally.

If, historically, the top-down implementation model is seen as the most common one, the implementation of 'bottom-up' policies has been increasingly discussed, especially in countries with a democratic regime, where there is the implementation of bottom-up policies, with the expansion of popular participation. Thus, the cases where participatory management and community participation are incorporated into the formulation, implementation, execution and even monitoring and evaluation stages of public policies, are multiplying.

Society's participation allows the sharing and increase of the government action capillarity, in addition to generating greater effectiveness from the moment in which society starts to be met in its real needs. It is clear that government structures are not large enough to operate in the territory, whether national, state or municipal. Involving society in this process not only broadens the capacity for government action, but also promotes the protagonism of the population that appropriates and maintains the achievements and benefits achieved.

Assuming the bottom-up implementation model, it is necessary to have a clear definition of the governance mechanisms and actions operationalization, sharing it with society. In this more complex model a negotiation game that takes into account the legal, organizational and consensual imperatives, is necessary.

This expansion requires the reformulation and development of complex and integrated bureaucratic and policy-making capacities among multiple agents, whether state or non-state, within a network State, defined by Castells (1999, p. 165) as "the information age State, the political form that allows the daily management of the tension between local and global", a State characterized by the sharing of authority between different institutions and able to respond to different problems in a dynamic and effective way.

The traditional, bureaucratic and paralyzing models are losing space, depending on the need for a state machine with an entrepreneurial and innovative force (Mazzucato, 2014), capable of investing in the creation and formation of new markets and of stimulating private investment in technologies and human capital, drivers of growth and innovation. Fostering knowledge through the creation of innovation ecosystems requires the reformulation of policies that result in the creation of partnerships, which function as the basis and engine of this process.

Thus, the Network-State constitutes and consolidates itself as a developmental state in the perspective and context of the twenty-first century, aimed at improving well-being and expanding human capacities, based on investment in services, stimulated by participatory democracies and by a broad integration of cooperation and governance networks. Then, the Network-State is an integrated and integrator of policies of the State, configuring itself as the most appropriate to the processes of formulation, development and implementation of creative economy public policies, which are, by nature, intersectoral and based on networks of creativity, technology and knowledge, integrators of symbolic (cultural), economic and innovation resources.

However, it is clear that there is a long way to go in this direction. The fragility of executive structures in Brazil is evident both in the ministries of the federal government and in the Secretaries of states and municipalities. Excluding the large Brazilian cities that already suffer severe difficulties in terms of managing the multiple problems they face, the medium and small cities live in extremely precarious conditions with most of the budget linked to the payment of civil servants. This situation requires public managers to develop capacity for articulation and mobilization of partnerships and networks to address daily issues and those considered as strategic for the development of municipalities. In this way, the culture of networks and collaboration must be in the "DNA" of its functionalism.


The concept of Network-State is still incipient in Brazil. However, it is possible to find places where there are strong links between people, organizations, processes and technologies for development. Once articulated, these elements converge to the definition of Local Productive Systems and Arrangements - SAPLs that can be understood as a set of economic, political and social actors located in the same territory, acting in the primary and secondary sectors as well as in the tertiary sector, and that present formal or informal links when performing production and innovation activities" (Amaral Filho, 2008). According to the author (2008), this definition can be broadened to include producing companies, suppliers of goods and final services, consumers; institutions that have a focus on education and training of human resources, information, research, development, promotion and financing, as well as cooperatives, associations, unions and others.

Over the last years, the fashion market, particularly in Ceará, had a (re) knowledge of artisanal and independent work. This fact is an articulated response between public and/or private institutions, artisans and designers to the years of production that prioritized the mass process, with a view to meet demands on a global scale, which resulted in a devaluation of manual techniques (Oliveira et Mendes, 2015). This revaluation of the artisans and their techniques impacted the creation and production of competitive articles in the market of several state territories, as in the case of Espedito Seleiro's footwear, clothes and leather furniture in Nova Olinda, southern region of Ceará, the clothes, tablecloths, and crocheting accessories from the artisans of Nova Russas, in the west, and the handcraft of labyrinthine lace and carnauba straw from Aracati, in the east, bringing labor and income to the productive groups as well as an awareness concerning the creation process, extraction and use of the region(‘s) resources.

It is noteworthy that the fashion economy networks in Ceará have been reinforced by the presence of fashion design professionals that provoke a positive symbiosis with the other participating actors. According to Pichler et Melo (2014, p.1 apud Oliveira et Mendes, 2015, p. 93-94).

Design, activity responsible for the creation, innovation and invention of artifacts that will compose the material culture of a particular place, must evaluate, in its development process, the symbols, information and behaviors of the culture in which the product will be inserted. [...] through the effects of globalization, where quality is no longer a differential of products and services, another inseparable aspect, innovation may be in the original appeal, in the emotion and in the feelings that awakens consumers through signs and symbols of their culture, bringing them closer to the object in question. It is therefore of great importance that, when designing new products, one has an understanding of the elements that form the culture and the identity of the place in which this product will be inserted.

Thus, in the fashion production system, the designer understands the importance of the local culture, researches regional vocations, recognizes the techniques and potentials of artisans, leads the dynamics of creation and production processes in a collaborative way, influences the consumer market to the practice of a conscious consumption, besides promoting the new technologies of information and communication and to be mediator in the dialogues between institutions and productive groups of artisans. Thus, the following item is constituted about an example of a creative economy network created at the end of 2015.


In order to understand the FIA Project, we chose the research strategy classified as a case study, because the method allows investigating a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context for the purpose of understanding, exploring or describing complex events or contexts, capturing all the possible information from multiple sources of evidence such as interviews, observations, documents and artifacts (Yin, 2005).

The initial stage of the study about the FIA Project elaboration, consisted in defining the problem, which in the case was to identify the development potential of the creative economy in the authorial fashion field, through the association between fashion design and craftsmanship, and also the analysis of a project articulated between the municipality of Sobral (Ceará), a third sector institution, an entrepreneur and authorial fashion designer and a group of artisans. Issues related to the formulation of public policies, the articulation of intergovernmental and interinstitutional networks, creative entrepreneurship and innovation and productive systems were considered. For this, a bibliographic research was carried out on the subjects that underpinned the understanding of the under study case survey and an analysis of policies, programs and projects related to the creative economy theme promoted by the city council; analysis of media reports about the project, its impacts and results achieved; analysis of the collective financing campaign on the Catarse platform; and, finally, content analysis of the structured interview with the brand manager of Catarina Mina, Celina Hissa, responsible for the workshops that resulted in the FIA Project.

The analysis categories for this study were as follows: (i) Prioritization of the creative economy policy in the government agenda; (ii) Inter-institutional articulation and networks for policy implementation; (iii) Popular participation in the formulation of policies, programs and projects; (iv) Bureaucratic skills and authority sharing; (v) Entrepreneurial and innovative State; (vi) Commercial articulation capacity of the enterprise focused on its economic sustainability; (vii) Enterprise capacity to articulate itself in local and regional productive systems and arrangements.

5.1 FIAcase (artisans’ workshop)

The FIAproject is a product from the 'Solidarity People' initiative of the Center for Solidarity Economy of the Social Development and Fight against Extreme Poverty Secretary, in Sobral, which develops work with productive groups focused on straw, crocheting, embroidery, and gastronomy, through different perspectives. This project was coordinated by the Municipality of Sobral, through the aforementioned Secretary, by the Institute of Advice for Human Development - IADH[2] , the designer Celina Hissa, owner of the independent brand Catarina Mina, the advertiser Lívia Salomoni, responsible for the development of communication strategies and the group composed of 40 women artisans from the districts of Trapiá, Aracatiaçu, Sumaré and Taperuaba, in the municipality of Sobral. This project represented a practical exercise for rethinking the traditional links between the market, artisans, designers and consumers. Each of the institutions and professionals involved in this project were sensitive to the need of redesigning the existing productive arrangements models.

The FIA (artisans’ workshop) was born from workshops promoted and conducted by Celina Hissa next to the artisans. The meetings were structured around consulting for the development of products. During months of work, the women's groups and the brand director exchanged knowledge, developed pieces and learned their techniques.

The purpose of this stage of the work was to improve the handicraft and increase the profitability of artisans' work, involving the creation of products, development of new production techniques, reflection on business models and the identity construction with value and purpose (Catarina Mina, Sd; Diário do Nordeste, 2015; 2016). At the end of the workshop process there were pilot pieces ready to be reproduced and enough to compose a mini-collection. The collection of the FIA was composed by pieces produced in crochet, straw and fabric, and sought to maintain the identity of the region's handicrafts.

However, there were disturbing questions: (1) how to make those idealized and manually worked pieces in a collective creation process reach the consumer market? (2) how to make the artisans feel encouraged, confident and secure, even financially, with what they produced?

5.2 Creative entrepreneurship and innovation in FIA

What was being questioned, however, was that the artisans' production had an added value perceived by the market, capable of guaranteeing not only the artisans' livelihood, but also the dignity, the valorization of local handicrafts, the continuity of traditions and sustainability through their knowledge. Or even rethink "the design making, which in the mold of essential design [3], puts the human being at the center of the process, making the whole chain closer and transparent" (Maradei, 2016). For the more technical questions, through the workshops, those involved realized that it was not enough to create products, it was necessary to sensitize the consumer market, that is, to rethink consumption.

With regard to the creation of the pieces, the work was developed in the teaching-learning logic based on knowledge exchange. At first, the IADH designer and professionals involved in the project learned about the techniques of the artisan group, their ideas and shared stories. It was through these conversations that ideas emerged and products were created, always taking into account local resources (sustainability), people from community involved in processes (inclusion), the design of the pieces (innovation) and the region cultural diversity. In this way, the group managed to create quality handmade products, most of them affordable and aimed at the home line.

When the stages of creation and development were completed, the group was faced with the fact that there is not a certain demand projection, to guarantee its production. This fact was discouraging and had a negative impact on the commitment of the artisans to the progress of the workshops. To solve this problem, we opted to search for collective financing with the purpose of raising the necessary resources to enable the artisans' production.

The challenge of collective financing was to make donors/consumers aware of FIA's importance to its community, ensuring its financial viability and understanding the waiting time of artisanal manufacture that does not keep pace with the industry. With Christmas approaching, the project counterpart was that the donated values were associated with product groups, which would be delivered to the "donors" during the Christmas period. Obeying the logic of collective financing platforms, production and the consequent distribution would only take place when the goal was achieved. (Catarina Mina, s.d; Catarse, 2016).

To achieve this goal, the FIA project (artisans’ workshop) was published on the Catarse platform. The platform itself collaborated with the content structure that was published. The intention was to raise R$ 25 thousand, which would be distributed in the acquisition of raw material, payment of artisan labor, packaging boxes and shipping costs, as shown in the following figure: To collaborate with the project, it was necessary to access Catarse's website to reach the catalog with the mini-collection developed by the artisans. Support was provided through orders made of one or more pieces (kits), consisted of bottle clothes, a set of placemats, baskets, cup holders, sousplats, decorative cachepots, and napkins made from crochet, Richelieu or straw. The collaboration value ranged from R$ 49,00 to R$ 169,00.

Fortunately, the goal was overcome, and in December 2015, the pieces were sent by the post office to those who relied on this new selling logic (Diário do Nordeste, 2015, Catarse, 2016). The project schedule can be summarized in the following figure.

Figure 1. Project Timeline


Source: Catarse (2016)

The project was published in October on the collaborative funding website Catarse, and was finalized on November 13, 2015. During this period, the campaign raised R$ 36,573.00 and was supported by 222 people in the country.

5.3 Results

With the result of the campaign, it was possible to bear the expected costs of the Project and to meet the pre-established production and distribution goals. The strategy of using collective financing as a strategy for the viability of FIA's pilot collection inspired the group to discuss, on a recurring basis, the creation of a direct channel between artisans and final consumers, about the need for a model of business that could guarantee a fair remuneration for the work of artisans associated with the existence of sufficient financial resources for running and operating the activities of involved professionals in the enterprise's productive system (Moda Empreendedora, 2016).

The collective financing of this pilot collection, as a result of the 222 supporters’ collaboration, also made it possible to invest, at the end of 2016, in a first collection that happened in partnership with the companies: Catarina Mina, by Celina Hissa, and Neon, by Dudu Bertholini[4].

Within two years, the brand has already participated in fashion shows, held a collection in partnership with the companies Catarina Mina, Celina Hissa, and Neon, Dudu Bertholini (FIGURE 2), has a pop-up store[5] on Catarina Mina’s website; he has also sold his products in specialized design fairs, such as the Manual Market and the Rosenbaum Fair, both in São Paulo, and in early 2017, through the designer Celina Hissa and the advertiser Lívia Salomoni; it was announced a partnership with the Oppa Design[6] company, a Brazilian brand of furniture and design accessories, recognized for producing and marketing pieces with style, quality and democratic prices. It was the first time that Oppa Design worked with manufactured products (Gazeta do Povo, 2017).

Figure 2. Fia + Catarina Mina + Neon collaborative scholarships


Tubinho Neon Purse / Tambor do Tempo Purse

Source: CATARINA MINA (2016).

Next, there is a synthesis with descriptions related to the previously defined categories of analysis that deal with the policies and actions of the Municipality of Sobral for the development of local handicraft production systems.

Analysis of the policies and actions of the Municipality of Sobral in the implementation of the FIA Project considering its impacts on local development

1 Raised Point: Prioritization of the creative economy in the management agenda of the Municipality of Sobral and the main programs and projects related to the challenges facing the development of the creative field in the municipality.

Descriptive analysis: The prioritization of the creative economy in the government agenda of Sobral is not evident, although the theme is present in some projects and specific initiatives, identified mainly in the Technology and Economic Development Secretary (STDE), in the Culture and Tourism Secretary and the Social Development and Extreme Poverty Combating Secretary.

2 Raised Point: Articulation of partnerships and inter-institutional networks for policy implementation

Although there is convergence between Programs and Projects implemented by the Municipal Secretaries in relation to the strengthening of enterprises and the qualification of professionals in the city's creative field, the existence of an effective articulation between these Secretaries was not identified, which would allow greater potentialization, consistency and continuity of actions. In the case of the FIA Project, the Social Development and Fight against Extreme Poverty Secretary acted in isolation within the government. The articulation in interinstitutional networks was rather timid and it occurred through partnerships outside the municipal government, more specifically with the Institute of Advice for Human Development (IADH) and the consultant and designer Celina Hissa, from Catarina brand. In this sense, there was a common effort for the development of the project that was developed in an effective and successful, although punctual, way with the group of artisans. After the Project's realization, the participating artisans started to recognize themselves and identify themselves as a group, sharing both the artisan's knowledge and the technical knowledge acquired and developed in the workshops. The Project also contributed to the strengthening of an entrepreneurial culture.

However, the group was not formally constituted as an organization (association or cooperative), and is still in an initial stage of structuring, without a consolidated management model. In this perspective, the Project served as a sensitizer and a driver of the first steps; however, much has to be done in order to build a path that makes the enterprise effectively sustainable. It is verified, therefore, how much the Project, although important, was not structured in the medium and long term.

Soon after the conclusion of this first stage, the articulation between City Hall, IADH and the contracted consultancy was undone. In any case, it is important to note that the Catarina Mina brand maintains, with less intensity, a commercial relationship with the group of artisans, providing their access to electronic marketing through its website, in addition to supporting artisans in some joints along with the potential retail customers.

3 Raised Point: Popular participation in the formulation of policies, programs and projects

Descriptive analysis: It is a fact that the FIA (artisan’s workshop) is a social product of a public policy. However, in its constitution, there is no record that has been drawn up with effective popular participation, or even, with the beneficiary public, in this case, the artisans of the districts contemplated. The policy was implemented "top-down", which demonstrates the precariousness of a democratic and participatory culture, resulting from the little-used state bureaucracy and without mechanisms aimed at creating spaces for dialogue, negotiation and formulation of policies.

The various ways of participation, especially in the countryside region of the state municipalities, are no more than a simulacrum, since society, institutions and government either do not know or still do not perceive different discourses and practices.

4 Raised Point: Bureaucratic Capabilities and Authority Sharing

Descriptive analysis: The municipal government of Sobral (Management 2011-2016), somehow established objectives related to the Promotion of Work and Income and, through FIA (artisans’ workshop), managed to implement public policies that served as a foundation for the activities of local artisan groups. Through this, it was possible to identify the potential of work, the organization of the groups, the training for the financial management of the production and the support in the commercial spaces in fairs, squares and events in the region.

In spite of the Project's success, it is verified that the relations between the districts benefited by the public policy and the government of the municipality of Sobral is quite vertical and hierarchical. While among the artisans there are flexible rules and processes, a democratic and decisive experience in the group, with voluntary adherence, in the relationship with the City Hall, the same women artisans assume a behavior of obedience in relation to the municipal authority that takes a form of control over the social groups.

It is clear that the Social Development and Combating of Extreme Poverty Secretary took an important step in implementing the FIA Project, contributing to the development of a benefited artisans’ group. However, there is a clear limitation of its bureaucratic capacity due to the impossibility of giving continuity to the project, transforming it into an effective structuring policy for the region.

5 Raised Point: Entrepreneurial and innovative state

Descriptive analysis: Almost as a signature in the Brazilian public administration, the irregularity of State investments in relation to public social policies compromises the continuity and sustainability of the projects. In any case, the importance of the public sector in the development of social and/or technological innovations of the territory is essential.

The efforts undertaken in Sobral created opportunities for the groups contemplated by the public policy Gente Solidária, such as the FIA Project. However, the action was timely and did not guarantee the creation and formation of new markets, and there was no generation or consolidation of attractive ecosystems for private investment and partnerships for the project's economic, social, environmental and cultural sustainability.

Celina Hissa's speech is enlightening. She reports that, when the project started, the craft group was practically undone. About one year ago (June, 2016), the Human Development Advisory Institute that supported the project had its contract with the Municipality of Sobral finalized, which led to the interruption of the activities. Despite this, the work of the artisans group was continued, with the goodwill of some employees and the partnership of the Catarina Mina company. In any case, it is necessary to attract new funding so that it is possible to invest in group management, growth and self-management in a more professional and efficient way.

6 Raised Point: Capacity of the enterprise's commercial articulation focused on its economic sustainability

Descriptive analysis: In addition to the focus on product creation and development processes, the FIA Project focused on strategic thinking in terms of possibilities and alternatives for the commercialization of its parts. In this way, some strategies were elaborated with the purpose of reducing the route between the production and the consumer public.

This reflection took into account the articulation ability of the Catarina Mina brand, which proposed the use of distribution channels for the commercialization of products: in collaborative fairs; in FIA's pop-up store on the brand's website; and channels from specific partnerships, such as Oppa Design's physical stores and e-commerce. These marketing channels are currently used effectively, and are successful in terms of sales. Nevertheless, one perceives a great dependence of the group of artisans, again, with respect to the Catarina Mina brand. The CM manager recognizes the importance of stimulating the financial autonomy of the artisan enterprise and, in this sense, reports that she often transfers the sales profit to the group.

7 Raised Point: Enterprise's capacity to articulate in local and regional productive systems and arrangements.

Descriptive analysis: The articulation capacity in networks and productive systems is still very restricted and requires a greater investment so that the enterprise becomes effectively autonomous. Today, most of the articulations of this nature are intermediated and conducted by the Catarina Mina's brand manager.

For example, the group currently sells to companies such as Beach Park, a local tourist resort. Negotiation with this client could (and should) occur without the intermediary of Catarina Mina; however, since the group does not issue an invoice, it is necessary to help the brand in commercialization. Celina Hissa stressed that the next step of the project was the formalization of the group through an association or a cooperative. However, due to the lack of resources and institutional support, the process was interrupted.

Source: prepared by the authors from the interview with the coordinator of the FIA project and from the Municipality of Sobral website.

The analysis of the issues regarding the constitution/ consolidation of the group, points to advances in relation to the awareness of the creation process, the revaluation of handicraft work, the strength of the partnerships, and the value of the independent design; nevertheless, there is a clear concern in terms of the non-continuity of the group's activities, mainly due to the interruption of municipal support in the initial and consolidation stages of the enterprise. There is a lot that must be done and performed to ensure the development and self-sustaining growth of this initiative.


The FIA Project is emblematic concerning public policies for the development of the creative economy, as it demonstrates how important an articulated action to strengthen creative sectors is, although these sectors are still fragile economically, but with a great growth potential, due to the symbolic value which they carry. Thus, this project, carried out in 2015 in the municipality of Sobral, makes us think so much about the need for integrated public policies for the management and innovation of micro and small creative enterprises and also their need for the development of new traditional marketing formats and fair remuneration, rethinking the chain of handicrafts, and valuing the culture and the craftsman himself.

The FIA Project provokes a series of fundamental reflections on the development potentials and the impacts of the investment in the Brazilian authorial fashion, which is diverse, of high added value and articulated in network and productive systems, and also promotes local and regional development. In this study, the value added, generated by the dialogue between design (innovation) and craftsmanship (tradition), is evident; however, the fragility of this dialogue is also evident when we analyze the low autonomy of the artisans’ enterprise in relation to Catarina Mina. The present imbalance of this partnership, in aspects related to market knowledge, the mastery of management techniques and the ability to articulate in networks and productive systems, necessary for the economic sustainability of the enterprise in the medium and long term, is clear and it reproduces a model of entrepreneurship restricted to a precarious and dependent relationship.

Faced with this, the question that arises is how to take the next step. And what comes out of this is that a real leap in this field necessarily involves the formulation and implementation of public policies that integrate the multiple agents, institutional and market, related to the productive system of the authorial fashion, with a view to the development of a program that considers the disparities of the sector and treat them by means of a set of actions that treat differently the different ones, integrating them in the process. While there are designers with higher education, there are illiterate artisans. And this gap requires institutions to relate to these different groups, reducing lags and stimulating an entrepreneurial, innovative and collaborative culture.

It should be emphasized that the public managers are short-sighted concerning the creative sectors and their potentialities for the local economy. In the case of the Municipality of Sobral, training, promotion and the intention to create a consumer market, in the specific case of FIA artisans, occurred through a program associated with the Social Development and Fight against Extreme Poverty Secretary. This fact leads to another fundamental question that relates to the need for the State to assume its role as a network, integrating policies from its own Secretaries and related institutions, aimed at the same beneficiaries. According to the case analyzed, regarding the promotion of local development through groups of artisans, the Municipality of Sobral lost the opportunity to associate and integrate policies of the Technology and Economic Development, Culture and Tourism and Social and Economic Development and Fight against Extreme Poverty Secretaries. On the other hand, it did not use the experience to create an ecosystem that promoted the integration of networks of public and private agents, which could be effective in a structuring way, thought and aimed at medium and long terms.


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[1] The Creative Economy Secretary (SEC) was formalized in the structure of Brazil's Ministry of Culture in 2012 and extinguished in 2015. However, in its planning and policy formulation process (BRAZIL, 2011), it contributed to the expansion of debate on creative economy from a national perspective, taking into account Brazil’s aspects and characteristics.

[2] To know more about the IADH:

[3] Methodology created by the designer Marcelo Rosenbaum. To know about the designer:

[4] To know about Dudu Bertholini:

[5] Pop-up: are temporary stores, or pop-up stores, very widespread in Europe, that are gaining prominence in Brazilian fashion retail. These spaces allow entrepreneurs to open physical or virtual stores in strategic places, with short duration - days or months. For small businesses, it is a possibility to win new customers with low investment and low risk. (SEBRAE, 2016).

[6] Raised Point: Prioritization of the creative economy in the management agenda of the Municipality of Sobral and the main programs and projects related to the challenges facing the development of the creative field in the municipality.

Received: Jul 30, 2017

Approved: Jan 12, 2018

DOI: 10.14488/BJOPM.2018.v15.n3.a2

How to cite: Guilherme, L. L., Gondim, R. V. (2018), “Public policies and productive systems of creative economy: the case of the FIA Project (Artisans Workshop)”, Brazilian Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 355-365, available from: (access year month day).