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SESC: The Social Service of Commerce
SESC: The Social Service of Commerce

The Social Service of Commerce
(Servício Social Comercio)
Administração Central
Av. Álvaro Ramos, 991
Belenzinho - Sao Paulo, Brazil
Phone: + 55 11 6607 8000
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SESC: The Social Service of Commerce 
    SESC, Brazil’s Social Service of Commerce (Servício Social Comercio), was established in 1964 as an incorporated body under the umbrella of the country’s Federation of Commerce with the aim of expanding the nationwide system of social welfare facilities that promote education an appreciation in the cultural fields. Dividing the country into 39 jurisdiction units, SESC has opened a total of 7,977 facilities nationwide, including theaters, galleries, multi-purpose halls, sports and leisure centers, movie theaters, etc. The organization is involved in a variety of programs, ranging from performances of music, theater and dance, instructional programs and seminars in sports for children, adults and seniors, as well as environmental education programs, etc., all with the aim of raising the level of cultural life for the citizens of the country. The Service is a registered membership type organization that presently has 1,299,330 registered members nationwide. The SESC facilities around the country are used by a cumulative total of 14,523,919 people annually (2006 figure). Funding comes from the social insurance payments from the commerce and service industries as designated in the Law #9853 passed on Dec. 13, 1946.

    The facilities are run by independent administrative bodies in each of the states. Among these, the Sao Paulo State SESC has the largest financial base ($187 million = 40% of the combined finances of SESC nationwide, with 20% being distributed to other states) with which it runs 30 comprehensive cultural center complexes. Special efforts are directed toward programs in the performing arts, with some 5,300 SESC arts performances held around Brazil and in other countries in 2006.

    Some of the SESC cultural centers in Sao Paulo State that are particularly well known internationally are SESC Consolação with theater director Antunes Filho serving as its artistic director, SESC Sao Jose do Rio Preto with its annual international theater festival (in 2008 the program includes eight invited works from overseas including one by Peter Brooke) and SESC Santos with its international Dance Biennale (where Japan’s Ishinha company performed in the autumn of 2005).

    SESC programs in the performing arts field consist of performances, seminars and events as well as grants to artists for the creation of works, support for overseas performances and tours by Brazilian artists and companies and support for collaborative production projects with foreign artists. In the past 20 years, SESC has been involved in a rich variety of exchange programs with Japan, including joint programs with the San Paulo Japan Culture Center of the Japan Foundation which have invited companies like Theater Company SCOT, Dumb Type, Banyuinryoku, Pappa Tarahumara, Rinken Band, Ishinha, takigi Noh.

    The largest SESC facility of all, SESC Sao Paulo, operates a library and research facility named Centro de Pesquisa Teatral gathering plays from all over Brazil. SESC Consolação opened its Centro Experimental de Musica in 1984 as part of an experimental program to bring people and music together using new methodologies.

    The SESC Headquarters also began publishing a cultural information magazine REVISTA E in 1994 and operates a website that provides event information, etc., as parts of its ongoing efforts to actively disseminate information about culture and the arts.