COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Due to crisis in the flagship cultural institutions, the Ministry is encouraging them to cooperate on promotion and distribution of projects likely to be shared.

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Spain/ 7. Public institutions in cultural infrastructure  

7.3 Status and partnerships of public cultural institutions

From a historical perspective, Spain's leading cultural institutions can be divided into three groups depending on their origins: national institutions, institutions set up by civil society, and institutions that emerged during the period of restored democracy. National institutions have been linked to the state from the outset and most of them are in Madrid (Prado Museum, Royal Theatre, National Library of Spain, etc.). The second type can usually be traced to the cultural aspirations of the bourgeoisie at specific moments in history, particularly in those cities having a strong industrial base, for example, Barcelona, Bilbao, Oviedo, etc. Typical illustrations would be the Liceu Opera House in Barcelona, the Campoamor Theatre in Oviedo or the season of the Bilbao Opera Friends Association (ABAO). Lastly, there are numerous initiatives undertaken over the last 20 years at various levels of government, such as the construction of several major cultural spaces, the majority outside Madrid, thereby promoting cultural decentralisation. Some of these cultural facilities, built in the middle of the Spanish housing boom, remain inconclusive or without cultural activity as a consequence of the economic crisis and also due to the lack of previous studies about their economic, social and even cultural viability.

National institutions depend entirely on the central government for funding, although boards of governors are allowed considerable leeway in decision making. A significant number of the other cultural institutions in the country are financed and self-managed under agreements between different levels of government. This inter-institutional co-operation seeks to promote coherence in regional development strategies and, indirectly, encourages greater self-management in day-to-day running of the institutions.

Examples of cooperation between large cultural institutions are the joint collaborative projects, agreed in October 2008, between the Prado Museum and the National Museum of Catalan Art in the fields of training, conservation, and the organisation and production of temporary exhibitions. In December 2008, the Royal Theatre Opera House in Madrid and the Liceu Opera House in Barcelona signed a new framework agreement in which they commit to a joint policy of development and dissemination of opera in their respective territories. In November 2012, the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre Foundation was founded to promote the idea of networking with other museums and art centres or universities and to open the museum to civil society with the creation of an international community of friends. A year later, with the aim of reinforcing collaboration between the Museum and the Foundation, both organisms signed an agreement that will strengthen network programmes led by the Museum, for example, "L'Internationale", which involves six important museums: Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana (Slovenia); Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Barcelona; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (the Netherlands); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst (MHKA), Antwerp (Belgium); SALT, Istanbul and Ankara (Turkey) and Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre. Beyond these specific initiatives, one of the priorities of the Ministry for the current term is the strengthening of the strategic and management abilities of the public sector in cultural institutions. To this end, the government plans professional and cultural exchanges, as well as the shared use of infrastructures and resources. Initiatives for the year 2015 within this framework include a new cultural programme, "Context", which will organise programming around the cultural events of major interest. Its purpose will be to encourage participation by citizens.

In recent years, various national and regional institutions have introduced changes in the procedure for appointing directors. With these changes the government hopes to improve the objectivity, professionalism and transparency of candidate selection. At the central level, the pilot experience of the Prado Museum has been extended to other institutions, such as the National Library of Spain and the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre. Firstly, under the framework of the Cultural Institution Modernisation Plan, approved in September 2007, and, at present, within the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture, this process of greater autonomy in the management of the country's principal cultural institutions also seeks to promote their financial sustainability through a greater public-private collaboration.

Two illustrative examples of this approach can be found in the new administrative status of the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre. The museums are now "special" public institutions, meaning that, under Spain's continental legal system, it can engage in transactions governed by "private law", i.e., it is no longer solely bound by the dictates of the "public law" under which government and government-funded bodies are normally administered (46/2003 Act on the Prado Museum and 1713/2011 Royal Decree that modifies the Prado Museum's statute approved by the 433/2004 Royal Decree). This has aimed to make it much easier for the Prado Museum to adapt to changing times and changing practices in the art world. In particular, it has allowed it to raise its own funds, including 50% of its running costs (before it was allowed to raise funds for only up to 27% of its running costs). In 2011, the government approved the 34/2011 Act that regulates the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre and provides the museum with a more flexible legal framework for the acquisition of works of art, fundraising, administrative contracts, and budget and human resources management. Also, to modernise the Museum's management mechanisms, furthering the extent of self-financing, in March 2013, the statute of the Reina Sofia was approved (188/2013 Royal Decree). It regulates the procedure for appointing the director and reinforces the Board, encouraging greater participation by society in its composition and guiding its activity to increase revenues. A few months later, in November 2013, the 188/2013 Royal Decree was adopted with the aim of extending the ex officio members of the Board, including the President of the Royal Association of Friends of the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre, and modifying the Permanent Committee of the Board. Especially relevant is the entry into the Board of Trustees of the so-called corporate members, that is, representatives of the most important Spanish companies that have made a commitment of sponsorship with the Museum. At present, the government has approved a project for the regulation of the National Library of Spain, so that, in the near future, the library will enjoy more autonomy and the same status as the other large cultural institutions of the state (see also chapter 5.3.4).

Fundraising, linked to the greater autonomy of cultural institutions, also encourages a much greater degree of co-operation with local business circles, and enables local administrators to gain experience with innovative and modern management techniques. A good example in this regard is the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA). It is now run by a public consortium comprising the Barcelona City Council, the government of Catalonia, and the MACBA Foundation which is made up of private-sector companies and its purpose is to raise funds to buy works for the museum; works which the Foundation will own. The incorporation of seven new members in the Board of Trustees of the Reina Sofia, all of them representatives of important companies in the country, is aimed at increasing the extent of self-financing, through commitments of sponsorship with these large companies. The INAEM started a loyalty programme in 2012, with the introduction of circles of friends and benefactors.

Regarding the role of the "third sector", traditionally in Spain there has been a general consensus that participation of the third sector in funding culture and cultural activities would increase with time. This idea, which has gained special relevance in recent years as a consequence of the economic crisis, is included in various key government documents. On the one hand, the Plan for the Promotion of the Cultural and Creative Industries includes support to non-profit entities engaged in cultural projects and, on the other, the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the Secretary of State for culture is aimed at encouraging participation and the role of civil society in the support and promotion of culture.

The bodies that best represent the spirit of the third sector are, without doubt, the associations. According to a study by the University of Deusto and the Author Foundation, cultural associations, which were strong at the end of Francoism and the beginning of democracy, are currently in crisis. The causes are not attributed to the size of the movement, since there are 42107 associations registered in the Autonomous Communities, but rather to factors such as the limited impact of their activities on society, excessive reliance on public subsidies, a lack of generational exchange and changing social habits. The study indicates that 46.3% of cultural associations have a generic scope, while the remaining 53.7% are specialised in a cultural sector. The largest sector is music, followed by heritage and the performing arts. Regarding regional distribution, Catalonia has the highest number of cultural associations (19% of the total) followed by Valencia (17%). Andalusia and Madrid have the lowest rates (VVAA, 2008).

In recent years, volunteerism has spread to all sorts of cultural facilities, using formulas such as associations and foundations of Friends of Museums, which are grouped in the Spanish Federation of Friends of Museums, a non-profit institution established in 1983 to promote initiatives that emerge in society connected with museums and cultural heritage. Other examples are the Foundation of Friends of the National Library, a private and non-profit institution created in November 2009, and the Foundation of Friends of the Prado Museum with more than 21000 members. The National Institute of Performing Arts and Musichas also created the Circle of Friends with the aim of establishing strategic alliances to provide stable financial resources and greater visibility to the institution and the collaborating institutions. In this line, the benefactors' programme of the Prado Museum currently provides around 30% of its internal financing.

In short, the cultural sector is characterised by its complexity, in which it is hard to define exactly the role played by each of the operators: public, private or "third-sector". At the same time, some common definition is necessary if agreement on policy objectives at different levels of administration is to be reached. Suffice to say that in Spain there is an expanding common ground for a meeting of minds between public and private operators, as evidenced by the following examples:

  • Towns of varying sizes –Barcelona, Burgos, Calvià, Gerona, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Seville, Sabadell– have drawn up "Culture strategy plans". This exercise in itself generates serious discussion on the current cultural condition of the town, identifying the available active operators and formulating a programme which extends beyond the horizon of the next elections. Such plans also help to position culture at the heart of local authority planning as the driving force of the town's economic and social development.
  • More and more forward-looking strategies are being drawn up in consultation with key players. Examples at the national level are the Anti-Piracy Plan, passed in 2005; the General Theatre Plan, passed in 2007 and revised in 2011; the General Dance Plan, passed in 2009, and the General Circus Plan, passed in 2011. Most of these initiatives are governed by some sort of mixed-membership committee to monitor their progress.
  • Grants for profit making cultural activities are being reviewed in an effort to establish a solid base for the audiovisual industry, with distribution and marketing as the key priorities. Co-operation between the public and private sectors holds much more promise of increased funding than the previous model of subsidies to the industry. Sharing risks and profits from co-productions and joint risk capital funds are seen as future funding models.
  • Examples of collaboration between foundations and the central government include the agreement signed in 2008 between the Ministry of Culture, the BBVA Foundation and the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM) to sponsor and develop the National Music Auditorium International Composition Competition. Moreover, within the proposed acquisition of new originals and reproductions for the Historical Memory Documentation Centre, the Ministry of Culture (today Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport) develops partnerships with other foundations: María Zambrano, Max Aub, Rafael Alberti, Azaña and Antonio Machado foundations. Furthermore, in July 2009 the Ministry signed a collaboration agreement for the description and digital reproduction of documents in the archive of the Francisco Ayala Foundation. The Campaign Maria Moliner promotes reading and is organised by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, with the collaboration of the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces.

The economic crisis, particularly important in Spain, led the government to the adoption of a series of measures to reduce the public deficit. These measures include the approval in April 2010 of an Agreement on rationalisation of administrative structures in the central government, with the reduction of senior officials and the restructuring of public companies. As a result of this reform, the rank of the General Director of the National Library of Spain was replaced by the rank of Sub General Director, a situation to be reverted in the new project of act.

Another strategy to contain public spending on culture has been the creation of the National Centre for Musical Diffusion (CNDM), with the objective of centralising the competences for programming and music management of the National Auditorium of Music, the Centre for the Dissemination of Contemporary Music, and the Centre of Historic Performing Arts and Music of León (Castile-Leon). This seeks to rationalise INAEM's policy in the fields of promotion and dissemination of music, integrating the human resources of each centre in the new CNDM, and unifying artistic budgets currently allocated to each of them.

The crisis has also meant a significant reduction of resources that the different public administrations channelled to major cultural institutions, most of them run by a public Consortium. These budget difficulties have jeopardised the viability of many flagship projects, as for example, the Liceu Opera House in Barcelona. The great debt run up by the Liceu with private credit institutions and the severe cuts in public funding led this institution to approve a "Strategic and Feasibility Plan" for the period 2014-2017. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport has assumed 45% of the total cost of that plan.

Faced with a situation of generalised crisis in the flagship cultural institutions of Spain, the Ministry has proposed that cultural institutions under its responsibility cooperate, promoting the circulation of content and the distribution of efforts in projects likely to be shared.

The implementation of these reforms, together with the reduction of the budget allocated to culture and the cessation of specific legislative initiatives in areas such as music, theatre, archives or heritage, led the Popular Party (at that time, the major opposition party) to require a cultural change in government policy.

The Spanish economic situation led, in November 2010, to the approval by the Sectoral Conference on Culture of a working group on a new model for managing cultural facilities. As a result of this work, the Ministry developed a first paper (March 2011) for reflection and debate on the sustainability of programmes and rationalisation of cultural facilities. After the General Elections, the new government of the Popular Party announced the establishment of a new working group, within the framework of the Sectoral Conference of Culture, whose main objective would be to work on the integral sustainability of cultural infrastructures. Despite its opposition to the cuts in cultural budgets undertaken by the former administration of Socialist Party, the economic crisis has also led the government of the Popular Party to make drastic reductions in the cultural sector (see also chapter 6).


Chapter published: 24-06-2015

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