4.2.8 Social cohesion and cultural policies
The consideration of culture as a tool for social cohesion has been one of the central objectives of the Socialist government and also of the current government led by the Popular Party. With regard to the latter, the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture includes the establishment of a state policy that ensures the right of access to culture and underpins citizenship and social cohesion as one of the five general goals for the next four years. Although the public projects launched in this area until now have been mainly addressed at cultural minority groups (see chapter 4.2.4), the new government in its strategy of collaboration and cultural cooperation with private and public actors, particularly with autonomous communities, seeks to create a favourable environment for the development of a culture of excellence that contributes to social and territorial cohesion.
Given their greater proximity to citizens, it is local governments that run most of the programmes aimed at promoting the social inclusion of immigrant groups: increasing their access to libraries or civic centres; organising festivals, cultural workshops, etc., or participating in folk and traditional arts.
In Barcelona in 2006, for example, the process of updating the first Strategic Plan for Culture (approved in 1999) evaluated the implementation of one of its strategic lines: making culture a key element in social cohesion. This evaluation revealed the important role played by libraries, as they provide access to culture and can help to break down the digital divide. Among the areas in which progress had been only partial, and in which further work was required, were the role of the civic centres, the relation between education and culture, and the role of cultural associations. Other positive aspects which should be mentioned are the approval of the Agenda 21 for Culture, the debates of Forum 2004 and the on-going process of approval of a Letter of Cultural Rights and Duties.