With the aim of providing a cross-cutting element to the cultural field, there are a number of collegiate bodies in which different levels of the public administration or different areas of the same level cooperate. At present, the Sub-secretary of Culture and Sport (Royal Decree 817/2018) is responsible for overseeing inter-ministerial cooperation, particularly, with the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Education and Vocational Training, Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation and Finance.
Traditional inter-ministerial cooperation initiatives include programmes such as “One Per Cent for Culture“, referred to the financing generated by public works (at least 1% of their budget, updated to 1.5% in 2013) that has to finance works of conservation or enrichment of the Spanish cultural heritage or to enhance artistic creativity (Historical Heritage Act, 16/1985 Act). The programme is coordinated by an inter-ministerial Committee composed of the Ministry for Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Development, which undertakes joint actions that promote the conservation and enrichment of Spanish historical heritage.
There are also numerous and diverse inter-ministerial bodies and initiatives, for example:
- In relation to the protection of underwater archaeological heritage, the Ministries of Defence and Culture drew up a general protocol to cooperate and coordinate the protection of underwater archaeological heritage.
- In order to provide full accessibility to spaces, cultural activities and services, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality presented the document A Comprehensive Strategy of culture for all.
- To combat infringements of intellectual property rights, an inter-sector Commission on Intellectual Property was set up, whose members are proposed by the Sub-Secretariat of the Ministries of Justice, Education, Culture and Sport, and Economy and Competitiveness.
In terms of intergovernmental co-operation, the State is constitutionally mandated to arrange for cultural communication among the different regions “in collaboration with them”. To do so, the central government set up a specific unit today titled the Sub-Directorate General for Cultural Cooperation with the Autonomous Communities under the wing of the Directorate-General for Cultural Industries and Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. The unit’s task is to cooperate with the regions in their cultural programmes; to foster interregional communication in the area; to disseminate the wealth and range of the regions’ cultural heritages; and to exchange information about cultural policies. It is also responsible for ensuring that the cultural diversity of Spain’s regions is fully appreciated abroad, a task that the unit carries out in co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Spanish embassies and consulates around the world.
In practice, the mechanisms for coordinating central and regional government activities on cultural matters have operated with different degrees of success. The Plenary session of the Sectoral Conference on Culture was held once in the third legislature (1986-1989), twice in the fourth (1989-1993) and the fifth (1993-1996) legislatures, not once in the sixth and the seventh (1996-2004), eight times in the eighth (2004-2008), nine times in the ninth (2008-2011), seven times in the tenth (December 2011- December 2015), not once in the eleventh (December 2015 – July 2016), once in the twelfth (July 2016 – June 2018), and not once in the recent legislature (from June 2018).
The Culture Plan 2020 of the State Secretariat for Culture, passed in 2017, incorporates, as one of its strategies related to the objective of promoting a social alliance for culture, the reinforcement of cultural cooperation with the Autonomous Communities. Among the specific measures, there is the impetus for the Sectoral Conference on Culture, for supra-regional cultural projects, and the circulation of good practices among territories.
Recovering and preserving the national heritage is the area where the combined action by the different levels of government has proven most fruitful. Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a proliferation of cooperation agreements at different levels of government mainly for major urban developments associated with the construction of prestigious cultural monuments / sites. One example is the Council of St. James, which was created in 2001 as a co-operation entity to facilitate communication between the central administration and the participating Autonomous Communities (Aragon, Asturias, the Basque Country, Cantabria, Castile-Leon, Catalonia, Galicia, La Rioja and Navarre).
Beyond the heritage field, within the framework of the Sectoral Conference of Culture, different working groups composed of representatives of the central administration and Autonomous Communities were established with the aim of promoting communication and cooperation in various aspects related to the cinematography and audiovisual, videogames, musical heritage and more.
As for relations among the regions themselves, the level of information and technical exchange is extremely low, with the exception of the historic communities. Collaboration between Catalonia and the Basque Country has materialised over the years in numerous projects and the exchange of information and experiences on their cultural policies. In late 2007, the Departments of Culture of those communities and of Galicia agreed to create a joint programme and to collaborate regularly in the following fields: cultural heritage, the arts, cultural industries and popular culture.
Similarly, very little progress has been made in inter-regional and national-regional co-ordination to project Spanish culture internationally. The notable exception has been the Ramon Llull Institute, a public body to promote Catalan language and culture abroad.
In terms of co-operation at the municipal level, aside from the abovementioned examples involving central and regional government and the councils of certain cities, mention should also be made of the assistance provided by certain regional governments for local townships. For example, the Island Councils of the Canaries and the Provincial Councils of some regions, mainly the Basque Country and Catalonia, have contributed to the development of inter-municipal cultural activities through museums, libraries, archives and local theatre tours. Municipal culture departments have also worked together with their colleagues responsible for urban development, education or tourism.
Since the Agenda 21 for Culture was approved on 8 May 2004, a growing number of Spanish cities and municipalities have adopted it at local government level. To promote the principles enshrined in the document, the United Cities and Local Governments established a Working Group on Culture, which is chaired by the Councillor for Culture of the Barcelona City Council. The Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces also has a Commission on Culture to provide local governments with useful planning and evaluation tools.
 Examples of agreements signed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport during 2017 can be found here: http://www.mecd.gob.es/dms/mecd/portada-mecd/destacados-sin-pagina/Convenios-MECD-2017.pdf. And here for 2018: http://www.mecd.gob.es/dms/mecd/portada-mecd/destacados-sin-pagina/Convenios-MECD-2018.pdf.