At the regional level, Spain is divided into seventeen Autonomous Communities (and two cities with autonomous status), which have broad powers in matters of culture. In particular, the Constitution gives them both managing and normative control over those areas where public regulation of some kind is traditional: museums, libraries, performing arts, handcrafts, etc. National museums, libraries and archives remain under state control, although, in most cases, responsibility for operating them is delegated to the regions.
The involvement of regional governments in cultural matters has been traditionally greater in those communities that have their own language and in the so-called “historic nationalities”, i.e., those that first obtained administrative autonomy: Andalusia, Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia (article 151 of the 1978 Spanish Constitution). At present, only Andalusia and Catalonia have assigned the administration of cultural affairs to a specific Department, while the remaining regional governments have opted for mixed bodies in which culture is administered jointly with education, tourism, linguistic policy, innovation and / or sports.
The regions have been very active in caring for their heritage and building cultural infrastructures. In those regions with their own language, much cultural activity is directed at recovering and developing the sense of regional identity, particularly by means of statutory initiatives to protect these languages.
Similar to national cultural administration, regional cultural administrations have lightweight structures. The coexistence of administrative structures with autonomous organisms is also present in various regions that have autonomous bodies in their departmental structures, e.g.:
- regional policy on reading and literature promotion is entrusted to an autonomous government body, the Institute of Catalan Literature;
- in Andalusia, the management of cultural programmes is entrusted to the Andalusian Agency for Cultural Institutions, constituted as an entity of public law;
- Galicia has the Galician Cultural Industries Agency and the Galician Centre of Contemporary Art;
- Castile-Leon has a Council for Cultural Policies with an advisory character that informs about the state of culture, the arts and cultural heritage in the community;
- regional policy for the promotion, development, protection and dissemination of the arts and cultural industries in Murcia is entrusted to the Institute for Cultural Industries and the Arts; and
- the Valencian Community entrusted the development and implementation of cultural policy to the entity CulturArts Generalitat, which is governed by private law.