The Cultural Group AfroReggae (Grupo Cultural AfroReggae — GCAR) has been offering socio-cultural activities for children and adolescents since 1983 in four poor communities in Rio, Vigário Geral, Parada de Lucas, Complexo do Alemão and Cantagalo-Pavão-Pavãozinho, with a view to keeping them away from drug dealing and unemployment. Besides their four cultural centres, GCAR has 13 artistic groups (called sub-groups), more than 70 political-socio-cultural projects in Brazil and abroad, four NGOs established in Brazil (Fábrica de Criatividade, (Creativity Factory in Capão Redondo, São Paulo, SP; NUC, in Belo Horizonte, MG; Majê Mole, in Recife, PE) and one in Colombia (Son Bathá, in Medellín).
The music (reggae, soul, hip hop) is the organization’s greatest focus. The activities in this area are centred in the Vigário Geral community. There the students who stand out are directed to the sub-groups, of which nine are involved with music (Banda AfroReggae, AfroSamba, AfroLata, AfroMangue, Bloco AfroReggae, Tribo Negra, Akoni, Párvati, Kitôto). These sub-groups generate income for the artists and the organization, and are managed by AfroReggae Produções Artísticas. 30% of the income of each show is used to fund the institution and is reinvested in the improvement of the artists.
The Band AfroReggae, the oldest of the sub-groups, has gained international recognition. In 2006 they opened the Rolling Stones’ show before a million people on the Copacabana Beach in Rio. Afterwards it made a tour of Brazil and to Colombia, India, China, England and the USA.
The GCAR promotes concerts with other artists such as Marisa Monte, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, within the scope of the Urban Connexions project, whose circuit passes through the poor communities of Rio de Janeiro. It has radio programmes on three FM stations and one TV programme which started in October 2008 on the Multishow subscription cable channel. The NGO has become a conflict mediator — in October 2008 together with Itaú Cultural it promoted the International Seminar for Cultural Actions in Conflict Zones — Antidote, with lectures and shows. It brings its experience gained in the Rio favelas to poor communities around the world, in Colombia, India, China, England and Germany.
With sponsorships totalling more than R$6.6 million per annum, and the support of Banco Real, Petrobras and Vale do Rio Doce and the company Natura, the GCAR confirms having already benefited more than 7,000 young people directly or indirectly.