Decision-making and the implementation of cultural policy involve procedures and interactions between the Ministry of Culture, the government and the Parliament, on the one hand, and consultative cultural councils, local government and self-government, cultural institutions, NGOs, and individual artists and their associations, on the other.
The Ministry of Culture drafts laws and other important documents which the government passes on to the Parliamentary Committee for Education, Science and Culture, and/or Parliamentary Committee for Information, Informatisation and Media. When cleared, they undergo parliamentary discussion and enactment. The Ministry of Culture plays a part in drafting the budget and decides on the allocation of budgetary funds to various cultural fields, and it has responsibility for media policy issues.
In the last decade the major change in the cultural policy system was the adoption of the Law on Cultural Councils (2001) and its subsequent changes (2004, 2009 and 2013). Cultural Councils were first introduced in 2001 as semi-arm’s length bodies, independent in making decisions about the distribution of funds: however, the Ministry of Culture managed and distributed subsidies. With the 2004 legislative changes, Cultural Councils became consultative bodies to the Minister of Culture with reduced autonomy but a similar mandate: e.g. proposing goals for cultural policy and measures for achieving them, offering professional assistance to the Minister of Culture, working out a long-term national cultural programme, and giving opinions on the distribution of grants.
The 2001 the Law established the following cultural councils: film and cinematography, music and performing arts, theatre arts, visual arts, books and publishing, the new media culture and the council for international relations and European integration. With the adoption of the Law on Audiovisual Activities (2007, amended 2011) the cultural council on film and cinematography was suspended since the new consultative bodies have been established within the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) (see chapter 4.2.6). Specific laws provided for the establishment of four other councils (cultural assets, archives, museums and libraries). If the Minister finds it necessary, according to the Law on Cultural Councils, he / she has the possibility of convening a National Council for Culture. The 2013 amendments to the Law of Cultural Councils introduced changes in the jurisdiction and the number of councils on the national level, thus establishing the councils in the following fields: music and performing arts, theatre and dance arts, books and publishing, visual arts, amateur arts and culture, innovative artistic and cultural practices, international cultural cooperation and financing of international projects. The 2013 amendments introduced the possibility of establishing new cultural councils if deemed necessary.
While the previous laws offered a possibility for local government to introduce cultural councils on a local and regional level, the 2007 Law on Cultural Councils made this mandatory for all counties and cities with more than 30 000 inhabitants. According to data for 2013 by the Ministry of Culture (November 2014), three out of 20 counties and one city (with more than 30 000 inhabitants) have not obliged to this Law provision. The intention of the legislator was to contribute to the process of decentralisation, but the effects of this change have not been assessed. This legislation guarantees local cultural self-government in the fields of archives, libraries, protection of cultural property and the theatre. The 2013 amendments to the Law introduce the possibility of establishing Cultural Councils in cities with more of 20 000 inhabitants, or in other municipalities where necessary. Data from the Ministry of Culture shows that in 2013 among 11 cities with more than 20 000 inhabitants, six of them used this possibility of establishing Cultural Councils.
Besides existing cultural councils, there are other councils and committees established by the government having direct and indirect impact on the formulation of cultural policies, such as the government committees for national minorities, youth, gender equality, civil society and others. The internal cooperation between different councils and committees is rather low. EU accession negotiations as well as implementation of transversal strategic documents served as catalysts for improving cooperation, but better coordination and cooperation is still lacking.