The obligation of the state to support artistic creativity and protect cultural heritage stems from the Greek constitution (Articles 16 and 24). Policy making, establishing cultural institutions and allocating funds for culture are the responsibilities of the Ministry of Culture as outlined in their organisational statutes. When appropriate, the Ministry of Culture co-operates with other Ministries (such as the Ministry for the Economy) to prepare and introduce legislation which is approved by the parliament and via presidential decrees.
Legislation related to heritage, culture and the arts originally consisted of an agglomeration of amendments to laws dating back to the 19th and early 20th century. After 1974, and especially since the 1980s, there has been a consistent attempt to modernise, bring together and systematise legislation within a smaller number of comprehensive laws.
The following pieces of legislation regarding culture should be noted:
- Presidential Decree no. 191/2003, Organisation of the Ministry of Culture, defining the organisational plan and responsibilities of the Ministry of Culture;
- Law no. 2121/1993, Copyright, Related Rights and Cultural Matters, providing wide protection for the moral and economic rights of authors, and the related rights of performers, publishers, producers, etc., and stipulating the creation of an influential Copyright Organisation under the auspices of the state;
- Law no. 2557/1997, Institutions, Measures and Actions for Cultural Development, containing a wide range of legislation whose clauses include, among others, a new framework for national literary and other prizes, enforcement of a fixed book price, establishment of new national art galleries and museums, new statutes for the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the Greek Cinema Centre, provisions regarding music, cinema and arts education, establishment of a state-owned company entrusted with cultural heritage valorisation and promotion through editions, audiovisual and multimedia productions and several important terms related to intellectual property rights;
- Law no. 3028/2002, For the Protection of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage in General, broadening the notion and scope for the protection of monuments and works of all cultural traditions and historical periods, establishing legal provisions for the museum sector, introducing stricter controls to the provenance of works in private hands and the art market, stipulating the public right of access to cultural heritage (and the consequent obligations of the state, of archaeological research and of private collectors), defining regulations for archaeological research, including foreign archaeological schools operating in Greece, introducing fiscal incentives for the protection of cultural heritage, introducing stricter penalties for offenders, and making provisions for lending and exhibiting Greek cultural heritage objects abroad;
- Presidential Decree no. 2520/2006, Ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005);
- Presidential Decree no. 3521/2006, Ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003); and
- Presidential Decree no. 3525/2007, On Cultural Sponsorship which re-instates a status of tax exemptions for private financial contributions to the arts. The process of arts and heritage sponsorship is to be monitored, and exemption status approved, by the Ministry of Culture, which will, also, provide potential sponsors with a list of candidate projects administered by the Ministry.