COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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After several years of drastic cuts in funding to the Cervantes Institute, the allocation for 2014 increased by nearly 20%.

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Spain/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.2 Public actors and cultural diplomacy

As is the case with most European countries, the promotion of Spanish culture abroad is a joint endeavour between the Ministry responsible for cultural affairs, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

At present, the Directorate-General for Cultural Industries and Book Policy, through the Sub Directorate-General for Cultural Promotion Abroad, is responsible for the promotion of the Spanish language and culture abroad, as an instrument for the internationalisation of Spanish cultural industries, and also for the dissemination of the Spanish language and culture through the local school systems. Regarding the book sector, the Sub Directorate-General for Book, Reading and Spanish Letters Promotion promotes foreign awareness of Spanish writers by encouraging the translation of certain works, the digital reproduction of documents in state archives, and participation in international fairs and exhibitions. Under its auspices, the National Library of Spain takes part in various joint projects with the central libraries of other countries.

Co-operation activities in the field of the visual arts and participation in international forums and standing bodies for the protection and appreciation of cultural heritage are carried out by the Directorate-General for Fine Arts and Cultural Assets and for Archives and Libraries. These activities are facilitated either directly or, depending on the event, indirectly through the Prado Museum or the Reina Sofía National Museum and Art Centre (both institutions being autonomous organisations of the Secretariat for Culture).

Two other autonomous organisations take part also in the promotion of Spanish culture abroad. On the one hand, the Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute looks after the promotion of the Spanish film industry abroad. In addition to its involvement in film co-productions, the Institute takes part in several European / international programmes. On the other hand, the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music supports, through a system of grants and aids, the promotion of the national cultural industry abroad, as well as the dissemination of national performing arts and music creation.

In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation is responsible for foreign cultural activities through its Directorate-General for Cultural and Scientific Relations, which is part of the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation and Development (AECID – see also chapter 3.4.6). This unit also deals with cultural and scientific exchanges, including grants and scholarships, as well as Spain's international undertakings in this respect. It acts through Spanish embassies and consulates or through AECID centres on foreign soil.

The Cervantes Institute, the self-governing body set up in 1991, under the aegis of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, is entrusted with promoting the Spanish language and culture internationally, for which it has 65 teaching centres and 12 classrooms in non-Spanish-speaking countries and 2 centres in Spain.

The Spanish Public Agency for Cultural Action (AC/E) was set up in 2010 to promote and disseminate the cultural realities of Spain inside and outside the country, to support joint projects of different regions and cultural institutions throughout the country and support projects that involve artists, scientists and cultural and creative industries abroad. This society is a merger of three public entities: the State Corporation for International Exhibitions, the State Society for Cultural Commemorations and the Corporation for Spanish Cultural Action Abroad. Following the strategic guidelines of the State Secretariat for Culture, in 2013 the Programme for the Internationalisation of Spanish Culture (PICE) started, featuring different tools for enabling it to travel abroad, acting as facilitators. This is based on two pillars, a Visitors Programme and a Mobility Programme. The results of the 2013 Programme have been assessed and presented in 2014.

Traditionally, the management of foreign cultural policy has been the subject of disputes between the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. These ended in July 2009 when, in an attempt to reorganise functions, both Ministers agreed to establish a National Plan for Cultural Action Abroad (PACE). Launched in April 2011, this biannual Plan, which rationalised the institutional architecture of Spain's cultural activities abroad, was developed by both Ministries, together with the Cervantes Institute and the Spanish Public Agency for Cultural Action (AC/E). At present, the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture includes most of the principles established in the PACE, highlighting the key role of culture as an essential component of the "Spain" brand. The ultimate objectives of the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 in this area are to reinforce the "Spain" brand through the transmission of its cultural elements based on contemporariness, diversity, creativity and cultural heritage, promoting the internationalisation of its cultural and creative sectors; to strengthen the dissemination of Spanish languages, their economic and cultural values, and the transition to the digital environment of cultural and creative sectors; to be present at the most important cultural events at the international level; and to promote cultural tourism. In addition to the General Strategic Plan, interministerial coordination, together with the Cervantes Institute, is embodied in the arts & culture SPAIN programme, which aims to disseminate and promote Spanish art and culture in the United States and serves as a space for dialogue and cooperation between Hispanic and American leaders.

Cultural activities abroad also rely on institutions such as:

  • the Carolina Foundation, set up in 2000 to promote cultural relations (grants, research, visitor programmes), particularly with the Iberoamerican community of nations;
  • the Casa de America in Madrid, set up in 1990 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Autonomous government of Madrid and Madrid City Council, to promote exchange and mutual understanding between Latin American and Spanish cities (stimulating debate and research in cultural, artistic, ideological, social, scientific, technological, economic and political areas);
  • the Euro-Arab Foundation for Higher Studies in Granada, set up in 1995, to create a space for dialogue and cooperation between the countries of the European Union and those of the League of Arab States;
  • the European Institute of the Mediterranean Area, set up in 1989 by the Government of Catalonia, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Barcelona City Council, contributes to the promotion of Catalan and Spanish institutions in the Mediterranean area and promotes and participates in development cooperation projects;
  • the Casa Asia in Barcelona, set up in 2001 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Autonomous government of Catalonia and Barcelona City Council, was born with the priority objective of promoting and carrying out projects and activities that contribute towards greater mutual awareness, boosting relations between Spain and Asian and Pacific countries, particularly in institutional, economic, academic and cultural spheres. In the middle of 2007, and after its consolidation in Barcelona, Casa Asia has opened a new seat in Madrid;
  • the Casa de Africa in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, set up in 2006, to provide a forum for fostering mutual understanding and strengthening links between the respective civil societies. It aims to become a centre of reference in Europe and Africa for the organisation of cultural and business debates, seminars, encounters and exchanges of all kinds;
  • the Casa Árabe and International Institute of Arab and Muslim World Studies has centres in Madrid and Cordoba and was established in 2006 by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development, the Autonomous Governments of Madrid and Andalusia and the City Councils of Madrid and Cordoba. It was created with the aim of becoming an active instrument in strengthening and consolidating multifaceted relationships with Arabic and Muslim countries and establishing itself as a nucleus for the study and understanding of the history and contemporary reality of these countries;
  • the Casa Sefarad-Israel, was established in 2006 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation and Development, the Autonomous Community of Madrid and Madrid City Hall. Its objectives are to study the legacy of Sephardic culture as part of Spanish culture, foster greater knowledge of Jewish culture and promote the development of links between Spanish and Israeli societies; and
  • the Casa Mediterráneo, set up in 2009, as a public consortium among the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Spanish Agency for International Co-operation and Development, in collaboration with the Valencia government and the municipalities of Alicante and Benidorm. It was founded with the goal of being a centre for debate and dissemination of the numerous Mediterranean expressions.

At regional level, cultural activities carried out abroad by the autonomous governments have increased significantly over recent years. In 1992, the government of Catalonia set up the Catalan Consortium of External Promotion of Culture, today part of the Institute of Cultural Companies, to promote a Catalan presence in foreign markets. In 2007, the Etxepare Basque Institute was created with the aim of disseminating Basque culture and language abroad. In general, those regions with significant numbers of overseas emigrants, notably Galicia, have encouraged exchanges, particularly in the area of music and dance. Communities bordering on Portugal or France often engage in cultural exchanges within the framework of European Union regional policies and programmes. Andalusia emphasises cultural cooperation with its southern neighbour, Morocco. More and more communities are using cultural diplomacy as spearheads for the promotion of trade and tourism.

To a lesser extent, some cities (or other bodies, such as universities) have contributed to international co-operation, often within the framework of the European Union (town twinning, Eurocities, Eurorégion Culturelle, ACRE, etc.), but also in an Iberoamerican context, with the Interlocal-Iberoamerican Network of Cities for Culture. In the last decade, some major cultural and urban regeneration projects involving the government at various levels have had major international impact: the Barcelona Olympic Games, the Seville Expo (1992); the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (1997); Salamanca as European Capital of Culture (2002); the first Universal Forum of Cultures in Barcelona (2004); the Saragossa Expo (2008). Donostia / San Sebastián will be the European Capital of Culture in the year 2016.

In the field of cultural education and training, there are many agreements signed with foreign institutions to promote Spanish culture and language abroad. An example of this type of agreement is those undertaken with foreign universities to promote the work of Hispanics in the respective countries. With this aim of disseminating Hispanic Studies in foreign universities, but also in the new emerging ones of third countries, in March 2013, the State Secretariat for Culture launched the HISPANEX programme. Specially addressed to finance university research projects in the field, the programme focuses on four priority areas: America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Mediterranean.

The Scholarships programme MAEC-AECID of the Spanish Academy in Rome is organised every year by the AECID together with the Foundation Rafael del Pino. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport organises the scholarships for visual arts and photography at the College of Spain in Paris. Moreover, since 1994, the Fulbright Scholarships provide funding for Spanish students wishing to broaden their studies in the arts and cultural management in the United States. More recently, the scholarships for the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam allow Spanish artists to develop their careers in this international centre.

The State Secretariat for Culture, through its Sub Directorate-General for Cultural Promotion Abroad, also manages a variety of programmes for training cultural professionals from Iberoamerica (IBEREX Programme), either through aids for cultural cooperation or through the ENDESA Scholarships for Iberoamerican Cultural Heritage. Moreover, the State Secretariat for Culture provides the CULTUREX Scholarships for training and specialising in cultural management in cultural institutions abroad, as well as the FormArte Scholarships for training and specialising in activities and subjects within the competence of cultural institutions under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and the College of Spain in Paris (see also chapter 4.2.3).

From a budgetary perspective, state policy for cultural promotion abroad is mainly implemented through the budgetary programme entitled Cooperation, promotion and cultural diffusion abroad, currently run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. In 2014, those Ministries allocated 131.079.100 EUR, mainly through the activities of the Cervantes Institute (110.450.310 EUR) which depends on foreign affairs. Nearly one ninth of this sum was spent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. In view of these figures, and bearing in mind the aims of the Cervantes Institute, it seems obvious that the Spanish language is a key instrument in the promotion and diffusion of Spanish culture abroad. This strategy of promotion is reinforced by the activities of the current Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport which, though at a lower level, funds around 12% of the programme.

After several years of drastic cuts in the funding of this programme (with annual change rates of -3.67% for 2011, -10.13% for 2012, and -17.83% for 2013), the amount allocated to the programme for 2014 increased by nearly 20%: The amount allocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation increased by 27%, whereas the amount allocated to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport decreased by 13%, despite the relevance of cultural action abroad included in the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture.


Chapter published: 24-06-2015

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