The process of co-operation between the public and private sectors can also be seen in the creation of foundations.
The 1986 legislation states that gifts made to foundations automatically reduce the amount due on taxable income, provided that the state, the Autonomous Regions or local authorities contribute at least 50% of the initial funding.
Foundations are, supposedly, institutions which best exemplify commitment on the part of the civil society (there are over 450 foundations in Portugal). Foundations are established with significant private capital, but in fact they also receive support from the state, which agrees to cover a set proportion of the fixed running costs. A number of foundations were created along these lines between 1989 and 2006: the Serralves Foundation, the Arpad Szènes-Vieira da Silva Foundation, the Centro Cultural de Belém Foundation, the Museu do Douro Foundation, the Contemporary and Modern Art Foundation – Berardo Collection.
The geographical distribution of cultural foundations does not change the conventional shape of the cultural map of the country: there is a heavy concentration of foundations in Lisbon, followed by Oporto. The foundations set up in the Northern interior of the country do represent local attempts to decentralise culture. Decentralisation is in fact one of the main aims of the foundations located in the Northern region; in the Lisbon region, on the other hand, internationalisation is a key feature.
The Gulbenkian Foundation, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006, continues its important cultural role in Portugal. In recent years, Gulbenkian undertook a major restructuring of its structure and re-directed its activities. The most controversial measure is the closure of the Gulbenkian Ballet – a major artistic reference of contemporary dance in Portugal that was founded in 1965. On its 50th anniversary, Gulbenkian entered a new phase, re-directing support to different cultural areas and offering new programmes (e.g. The Cultural Forum “The State of the World” and the educational programme Descobrir).