Spain’s leading cultural institutions can be divided into three groups depending on their origins: national institutions, institutions set up by civil society, and institutions that emerged during the period of restored democracy. National institutions have been linked to the central government from the outset and most of them are in Madrid (Prado Museum, Royal Theatre, National Library of Spain, etc.). The second type can usually be traced to the cultural aspirations of the cultural elites at specific moments in history, particularly in those cities having a strong industrial base, for example, Barcelona, Bilbao, Oviedo, etc. Lastly, there are numerous public initiatives undertaken over the last 30 years by various levels of government, such as the construction of several major cultural spaces, the majority outside Madrid, thereby promoting cultural decentralisation. Some of those cultural facilities, promoted before the deep financial crisis without any feasibility study, remain inconclusive or without cultural activity.
National institutions depend nearly entirely on the central government for funding, although boards of governors are allowed considerable leeway in decision-making. A significant number of the other cultural institutions in the country are financed and self-managed under agreements between different levels of government. This inter-institutional co-operation seeks to promote coherence in regional development strategies and, indirectly, encourages greater self-management in the day-to-day running of the institutions.