The Monocle Minute

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The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 10 November 2018

Art

Image: Getty Images

Making a stand

Despite things being rather gloomy on the political front, Brazilians are finding a ray of light during São Paulo’s booming Art Weekend.

São Paulo’s third annual Art Weekend, running now, offers some light relief after Brazil’s tense presidential election, which saw far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro claim victory. Despite Bolsonaro’s divisive rhetoric and promise to dissolve the Ministry of Culture, Luciana Brito, president of the Brazilian Association of Contemporary Art (which organises the Art Weekend) is optimistic. “It is too soon to tell what [Bolsonaro’s election] will mean for the arts community,” says Brito. “What can be said is that the Brazilian cultural scene is wide and strong; it has solid institutions whose programmes are an essential part of the population’s daily life.” With more than 50 exhibitions across 38 venues and a range of talks and tours, this year’s event is about the here and now, rather than being fearful of the future. And while censorship and intimidation are real threats, that is not what this weekend is about.

Retail

Image: Shutterstock

Better together

Two of Germany’s biggest department stores have merged to present a challenge to online retail.

Germany’s national competition regulator has approved the merger of the country’s two biggest department-store chains in a decision that acknowledges the shifting balance of power between online and physical retail. The merger of Karstadt (owned by Austria’s Signa Holding) and Kaufhof (owned by Canada’s Hudson’s Bay) will give the resulting mid-market retailer 243 shops, making it by far the biggest department store chain in Germany and one of the biggest in Europe. Yet Germany’s Federal Cartel Office decided that there were “no serious competition concerns” about this physical behemoth dominating the market, in large part because of the huge challenge presented by online retailers such as Amazon and Zalando. By uniting, the former rivals have eliminated their physical competition – now their task is to provide memorable in-store experiences to get consumers off their laptops.   

Culture

Image: Rory Gardiner

Creative activity

Dubai opens a new – and welcome – art centre to show the emirate’s softer side.

Dubai’s bid to become a Middle East hub for the creative industries continues: it opens the Jameel Arts Centre this weekend. The centre, designed by London’s Serie Architects in aluminium, concrete and glass, is the latest addition to a formerly empty plot on Dubai Creek, which is growing into a fledgling cultural district. Featuring the first open-access contemporary-arts library in the United Arab Emirates, as well as galleries, studios and restaurants, it’s an ambitious project showing that the state’s softer side is not just shiny malls and indoor ski slopes. While throwing money at a creative precinct doesn’t always yield good results, Jameel Arts Centre – and plans to use it to nurture talent through mentoring programmes and residencies – is a smart move.

Sport

Image: Getty Images

On your marks…

The annual Athens Authentic Marathon has attracted record numbers, providing a welcome boost to Greek morale.

If you’re planning a trip to Athens this weekend and haven’t already booked accommodation, you may be hard-pressed to find a room. Thousands of endurance athletes will descend on the Greek capital for the annual Athens Authentic Marathon taking place this Sunday, following the route that the messenger Pheidippides supposedly ran to bring news of the Athenian victory over the Persians at Marathon back in 490BC. A record 18,500 participants have signed up, 15,000 of them foreigners. Organisers this year have called on runners to wear green scarves as they run past the portion of the route that was struck by deadly wildfires in the town of Mati last summer, raising awareness of reforestation efforts. Greece may still have a way to go before it gets back on its feet but this is an event sure to draw the crowds for years to come.

From Monocle 24

How to win an election

Monocle Reports

Big data and technology have revolutionised the nature of elections – but who’s benefiting? In this special report we investigate the changing dynamics of voting and assess how the rise of the internet has redefined politics.

From Monocle Films

Blossoming business

The Netherlands is a world leader in the horticulture industry and shows no sign of wilting. We visit a delicately orchestrated flower auction, a grower and a florist to discover the challenges of this fragrant business.

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