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Portugal/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

Cultural policy in Portugal is the remit of the Ministry of Culture and has mainly been based on a centralised model. Among the "peripheral services administered directly by the State", there are five Regional Culture Directorates (North, Centre, Lisbon and Tagus Valley, Alentejo and Algarve) whose aim is to distribute the Ministry's responsibilities more widely and whose missions, in conjunction with the Ministry's main departments, are to: "ensure public access to cultural resources, to monitor the activities of cultural producers funded by the Ministry of Culture, and to monitor heritage conservation measures" (Regulatory Decree 34/2007 dated 29 March 2007). Regional Culture Directorates are administratively autonomous.

This is a cultural policy model which tends to be interventionist, with differing degrees of intervention according to the field of cultural and artistic endeavour concerned. Thus in the culture industries (cinema, audiovisual, book publishing), the Ministry of Culture's role is essentially that of a regulator. In the case of performing arts, the traditionally more interventionist role of the Ministry has been in retreat, with progressively less investment in Ministry-supervised production and artistic facilities. There has also been a retreat in the heritage sector, in which the Ministry of Culture has traditionally intervened most extensively, reflected in the merging of institutes in this domain.

It should be noted that the government's retreat from supervision of the cultural sector is also evident in other ways - first of all in the form of budgetary restrictions and the gradually reducing organisational structure of the Ministry of Culture as factors which contributed to its relative decline as a cultural actor. Thus the greater investment by local authorities in the domain of culture turned them into key players in terms of cultural policies (see chapter 3.2). In turn the main cultural entities in the third sector continue to intervene in the cultural field - of particular importance here are the Gulbenkian Foundation, the Serralves Foundation and the Luso-American Foundation. The cultural activities of other ministries should also be taken into account, such as the Ministry of Education (in book publishing and reading), the Ministry of Economics (in the creative industries, including tourism), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in language, see chapter 3.4) and the Ministry of Public Works (in the heritage field).

Chapter published: 13-07-2011

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