The 1978 Constitution created a new administrative territorial division in Spain, with three administrative levels: central government, Autonomous Communities or Regions and local councils (municipalities and provinces). According to the areas of competence laid down in the Constitution, all three levels have general responsibilities for culture, although the majority of public cultural expenditure comes from regional and local governments, which together represent 86% of public cultural spending (see chapter 7.1.2).
The central government holds the exclusive responsibility for protecting cultural property against export, creating legislation to protect copyright, overseeing the basic rules on freedom of expression, creation and communication and regulating the means of communication (radio, television and the press) solely to the extent that such freedoms are threatened. At the same time, it retains the ownership of certain major cultural institutions, such as some museums, archives and libraries, even if their administration is sometimes delegated to the regions.
The rise to power of the Socialist Party (June 2018) established a new structure of the Ministry of Culture and Sport (Royal Decree 817/2018) with three Directorates General:
- Directorate-General for Books and Promotion of Reading
- Directorate-General for Fine Arts
- Directorate-General for Cultural Industries and Cooperation.
This lean organisational structure is also due to the fact that some cultural bodies (autonomous organisms) have an independent legal status (legal entities of public law) and a certain degree of operating autonomy. Such is the case for e.g., the Prado Museum, the National Library of Spain, and the Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute.