2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model
Spanish cultural policy has undergone profound and rapid changes since 1977. The cultural model of the democratic period has combined the determination of the state to foster culture, with a massive decentralisation of administrative tools, in accordance with the rules for the territorial government laid down in the Constitution of 1978. This model has also favoured an increase in the involvement of private companies and civil society in running the country's culture. However, the model has experienced profound changes in the last year as a result of the economic crisis but also of the re-centralising tendencies in the new Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.
In any case, since democracy there has been a desire to attain the much-sought-after "European standard" in terms of cultural supply and demand.
In terms of power, the decentralisation of Spanish cultural policy operates on the basis of competition among the different levels of government. Thus, the central government holds exclusive responsibility for protecting cultural property against export, for creating legislation to protect copyright, and for overseeing the basic rules on freedom of expression, creation and communication, and regulating the means of communication (radio, television and the press) solely to the extent that such freedoms are threatened. At the same time it retains the ownership of certain major cultural institutions, such as museums, archives and libraries, even if their administration is sometimes delegated to the regions.
The regions lead the radical decentralisation of cultural policy, in which three phases can be identified:
The high-water mark of decentralisation can be seen in the mid-1990s. From then cities took on the bulk of responsibility for cultural promotion and dissemination, as is evidenced by the two European Capitals of Culture, Santiago de Compostela in 2000, and Salamanca, in 2002.
The only statutory obligation to which municipal authorities are subject is that of providing libraries where the inhabitants number more than 5 000. In practice, however, local authority involvement in cultural activities now accounts for over 50% of all public spending at all levels on culture (see also chapter 6). A distinction should be drawn between the bigger cities (Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Valladolid, Bilbao, Seville, Oviedo, Salamanca, La Coruña, Santiago de Compostela), capable of funding major projects and activities, and the medium-sized and smaller towns, which must do with providing the basics (libraries) and supporting patron-saint festivals and other strictly local events.
In the last few years, as provision of cultural activities became more professional, efforts have been made to make support for culture more flexible, drawing from resources at all three levels of government. At the political level, the Popular Party's terms in office have meant the defence of greater involvement of the private enterprise and civil society in the organisation of cultural events. In terms of power, the first Popular Party's terms (1996-2004) questioned the existing model and set its sights on more popular participation in the configuration of collective symbolic production. This was the background to legislative changes (see chapter 3 and chapter 5) introduced in that period aimed at obtaining private funds for certain cultural activities. The new term, initiated at the end of 2011, has also meant other changes in the orientation of cultural policies. Partially motivated by the strong economic crisis, the policy of the Ministry has led to questioning not only public expenditure on culture but also its decentralised organisational model.
Traditionally the decentralised Spanish policy has favoured the adoption of different models for cultural management and for the support and promotion of artistic creation. One important example is the creation in the Catalan community of the National Council for Culture and the Arts. This arms-length body, the first instrument of its kind in the Spanish state, was approved by the 6/2008 Act with the main objectives of ensuring the development of cultural activity and collaborating in drawing up both cultural policy and policy that supports and promotes artistic and cultural creation. However, the new government, emerged from the November 2010 elections, has introduced some changes in the structure, composition and powers of the Council. These changes, which are part of a more general move towards public sector restructuring, have tried to streamline paperwork and administrative procedures, give agility to the administration and reduce costs. In the specific case of the Council, the act has defined a new structure and configuration of the entity that seeks to reinforce it as a supervisor and assessor of public cultural policies. Pending the modification of its statutes, these changes have been opposed by a large number of the cultural agents in the country who see in them as a threat, with the loss of the Council's executive powers.