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Spain/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

Spain's transition to a democratic model has been based on the recognition of territorial cultural diversity. Understood in this sense, "territorial cultural diversity" is far away from the concept of "cultural minorities".

Both the rapid influx of immigrants (since the 2000s until the start of the crisis that led to the transformation of the country) and the influx of Spaniards abroad due to the crisis are relatively recent phenomena, and these facts may help explain, to some extent, why a debate has yet to be held on cultural policies for minorities, although some aspects of integration are being touched upon regarding education, citizenship, customs, security, etc.

According to the Quarterly Report of the Permanent Immigration Observatory (Ministry for Employment and Social Security), on 30 June 2014, the number of foreign residents in Spain was 4 905 495, a decrease of 11% on the previous year. As regards the distribution by continent of origin, the largest group comprised those from the European Union member states (47.5%), followed by Africa (21.1%), Latin America (19.2%), Asia (7.7%), the rest of Europe (3.1%), North America (0.7%), AELC-EFTA (0.6%) and Oceania (0.0%). According to country of origin, the largest immigrant community was from Romania (940 252 persons), followed by Morocco (774 395), the UK (269 756), Italy (210 304), and Ecuador (203 654). In comparison to the previous year, there is an increase in immigrants from European countries, and a decrease in the Latin American communities.

The main aim of the government's immigration policy (currently implemented by the General Secretariat for Immigration and Emigration) is to derive the maximum benefit for society as a whole. The policy applies to all foreigners resident in Spain, regardless of their nationality. The Forum for the Social Integration of Immigrants, a collegial organisation attached to the former Ministry for Employment and Immigration, through the Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration, was set up in 2006 to aid the integration of immigrants who reside legally in Spain. The Forum is the consulting, informing and advising entity for Spain's national government and, when appropriate, for the 17 autonomous regional and local governments in matters of the integration of immigrants. In 2009, the Organic Law 2/2009, which modifies the Organic Act 4/2000, on the rights and liberties of foreign nationals in Spain and their social integration, was approved, with the aim of emphasising the role of integration within the government's immigration policy. According to the European Community acquis on migration and international protection, the new Act sought to achieve a peaceful framework for the coexistence of identities and cultures. In this sense, the Act includes extensive references to the full integration of immigrants in Spanish society, within a framework for a fruitful coexistence of diverse identities and cultures limited only by respect for the Constitution and the Act. In April 2011, as a development of the aforementioned Act, the new Regulation on the rights and freedoms of foreigners in Spain was approved (Royal Decree 557/2011). Its main objectives include the regulation of labour migration flows and the strengthening of integration and social cohesion in a cultural diversity context. More recently, in 2012, the Spanish Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia was set up with functions of study and analysis, and with capacity to make proposals for action in the fight against racism and xenophobia and for the promotion of equal treatment.

The cross-sectional nature of immigration has meant that various ministries (education, labour, health and social services, etc.) have drawn up specific regulations and programmes for the access of these groups to education, employment, health and accommodation. Of these projects, the most important is the National Action Plan on Social Inclusion (2001-2003, 2003-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2008 and 2008-2010). Arriving late and with an insufficient budget allocation given the situation of poverty and social vulnerability of the country, in December 2013, the government approved the National Action Plan on Social Inclusion 2013-2016. It is based on three pillars: inclusion through employment, guarantee of a system of economic benefits and basic public services, and fight against child poverty (which is considered for the first time and included as a transversal objective). Unlike the periods when previous plans were designed and implemented, at present, poverty and social exclusion in Spain affect very drastically children, foreign population (excluding those with European Union citizenship), unemployed and inactive people, adults with basic education, as well as the residents of some regionsin the South of Spain and in the cities of Ceuta and Melilla. The references to culture in the new plan are related to the access by the younger population, as well as to the promotion of integration and intercultural coexistence of the immigrant population.

With the general aim of promoting social cohesion, and been built with the maximum institutional and social participation, in September 2011, the government approved the Strategic Plan on Citizenship and Integration (2011-2014), which replaced the previous Plan which was adopted in 2007. Addressed to all the population, autochthonous and immigrants, the Plan recognises equal rights and duties for everyone, equality of opportunities, and respect for diversity. The Plan also wants to consolidate among immigrants a consciousness of belonging to the Spanish community. In that sense, the Plan is aimed to foster among immigrants greater understanding and respect for the common values of the European Union, the rights and duties of residents in Spain, the official languages used in different Communities and the social rules of Spanish society. In relation to the previous Plan, the new one considers new measures aimed at responding to new challenges such as how to manage diversity, to strengthen human capital and to ensure equal opportunities for guaranteeing social cohesion.

In the strictly cultural field, one of the projects undertaken by the government is the creation of the Roma Cultural Institute Foundation, a state-owned public sector foundation that is associated with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Its creation was authorised by a Council of Ministers held on 9 March 2007 to support the community of gypsies, which has maintained its own identity in Spain since its entrance in the XV century. At present, this community represents a 1.5% of the Spanish population. The main aim of the Institute is to contribute to harmonious relations between the various groups and cultures present in Spanish culture, paying special attention to equality of opportunity and to combating discrimination on grounds of gender or race. The Institute also supports the development and promotion of gypsy history, culture and language in all its manifestations, and contributes to its dissemination through research, publications and the organisation of academic and cultural events. From a more general perspective, the government approved a specific Plan for the development of the Roma community to be implemented during the period 2010-2012. The Plan included a series of actions to promote the social participation of the gypsy community, and the exercising of its rights and access to goods and services. In 2012, in accordance with European regulations, the government approved the Strategy for the Social Inclusion of the Gypsy Population in Spain 2012-2020, which includes the promotion of culture as a complementary line of action.

Another cultural project in this field is the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters, a non-profit making public association with the goal of protecting all facets of Sephardic heritage in Spain. Its members promote cultural and academic projects, sharing their experiences and organising events in Spain and abroad, and designing policies of sustainable cultural tourism in their cities.

Beyond institutional initiatives, there are many actions that promote culture and artistic creation as an "instrument" for the social integration of immigrant communities and cultural minorities in Spain. They act as a "bridge" between these groups and the host population. Among their various objectives, the following are most important:

  • intensifying the contacts between the associations and the NGOs: as carried out by the CEPAIM Foundation (Consortium of Organisations for Integral Action with Migrants);
  • promoting reading among immigrants living in Spain: the writing contest around the topic Immigration, intercultural integration and peaceful coexistence within the framework of a general agreement signed by the CEPAIM Foundation and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport to promote reading among the immigrant population;
  • increasing visibility through public celebrations and cultural events: the annual festival Murcia: three cultures (Arab, Jewish and Christian) organised by the Murcia City Council; Venagua, organised since 1991 by the Columbares Association in Beniajan (Murcia);
  • increasing visibility through the media: the Columbares Association has run various film and TV projects;
  • contributing to inclusive and intercultural education: the Columbares Association in Murcia organises the Diversity Educates project to promote diversity and mutual respect in the classroom and at home;
  • raising the skills of the minority communities: the ETANE Association is a working group from Sub-Saharan Africa which, since 1989, has organised teaching programmes for teachers and pupils in Barcelona (Spain); since 2002, La Formiga, a non-profit organisation, organises the School of Language and Citizenship, which offers language training in the host language to new immigrants; and
  • promoting intercultural coexistence and mutual respect for all cultures: since 1992, the Socio-Cultural Association for Cooperation and Development in Colombia and Latin America(ACULCO), coordinates different cultural projects (such as festivals, workshops, art exhibitions, etc.) which allow interaction between the autochthonous and immigrants; and Foundation Tot Raval (Barcelona) organises, since 2003, the Cultural Festival Raval, which shows the various "Ravals" living in the neighbourhood.

More recently, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport has carried out initiatives aimed at the inclusion of other disadvantaged groups such as the disabled. Thus, in July 2011, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality presented the document A Comprehensive Strategy of Culture for All, that seeks to provide full accessibility to spaces, cultural activities and services managed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage; to encourage artistic creation of people with disabilities, as well as their activity as direct cultural managers; and to promote research on technologies that facilitate accessibility to cultural content and spaces. In November 2011, an inter-ministerial body (Inclusive Culture Forum) was created for the follow-up of this initiative, which is composed of both Ministries, along with National Heritage, the largest organisation representing people with disabilities, public and private referral centres and various experts.

More specific institutional initiatives in this area include the participation of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music in several projects, such as Accessible Theatre, which includes audio description for people with disabilities, the organisation of the A different look Festival by the National Drama Centre that programmes shows made by artists with disabilities, and the organisation of the Conference on Social Inclusion and Education in Performing Arts. In the heritage and museum sector, in 2014, the II International Conference on Education and Accessibility: Museums and Heritage and the First Forum on Young Accessible Cultural Heritage have been held. In the near future, the programme "Plan + Social Museums", aimed at deepening the social dimension of museums, will be presented.

Chapter published: 24-06-2015

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