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Spain/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate  

4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities

The action of the central administration during the term 2004-2011, with the political mandate of the Socialist Party, focused on three central objectives: the acknowledgement of cultural diversity, the strengthening of co-operation and the consideration of culture as a tool for economic development and social cohesion. Cultural activity during this period was directed to produce: structural and procedural reforms in the principal cultural institutions of the country with the aim of improving their management and coping with the effects of the economic crisis (see  chapter 7.3); the implementation of initiatives to improve the relationship with regional and local authorities; the international promotion of Spanish culture, with the adoption of initiatives such as the National Plan for Cultural Action Abroad and the Plan for the International Promotion of Cultural Tourism 2010-2012; the creation of new cultural facilities; the entry into force of the Cinema Act 55/2007 (see chapter 5.3.6), and the final disposition of Act 2/2011 on a Sustainable Economy, which regulates intellectual property rights on the Internet (see chapter 5.1.7), and also the protection of intellectual property rights (see chapter 4.2.11) and promotion of online accessibility of cultural resources (see chapter 4.2.2).

The victory of the Popular Party in the 2011 elections led to the appointment of a single Minister for the areas of culture, education and sport. The basic lines of action for the current term, included in the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture are mainly focused on giving new impetus to culture as a right and as an economic engine, and to promoting Spanish culture abroad. These priorities are specified in the following five general objectives:

  • to articulate a state policy that guarantees the right of access to culture and contributes to underpin citizenship and social cohesion;
  • to strengthen, with transparency, the instruments of communication and cultural cooperation between public authorities and other institutions to promote an efficient and rational use of cultural resources;
  • to promote culture as a critical tool to disseminate the "brand" Spain abroad;
  • to encourage participation and the role of civil society in the support and promotion of culture; and
  • to facilitate the creation, innovation and the production of knowledge and promote culture on the Internet, safeguarding intellectual property rights.

The balance for the last available year (2013) shows a compliance level of 51% in the first goal, 53% in the second, 60% in the third, 10% in the fourth and 45% in the fifth.

These priorities do not differ to a great extent from those of the previous government during its two terms in government (2004-2011), although the context of a severe economic crisis has led to further cuts in culture, as well as to greater requirements for effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. In addition to rationality in public spending, the government's discourse has become more centralist and some regions, particularly Catalonia, perceive this as an attack on the cultural plurality of the country.

Apart from cultural activity of the central administration, regional authorities hold many of the responsibilities for culture in Spain. As in most developed countries, the local authorities assume a growing role in public cultural provision. The central government is, therefore, left with a limited scope of responsibility in terms of public policy making, though it has considerable weight in underlying policy through its constitutional mandate and its control of culture vis-à-vis foreign policy, not to mention its continued control over the best known and most influential cultural institutions.

Chapter published: 24-06-2015

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