In recent years, the outsourcing of public services has spread to the direction and management of cultural organisations. Thus, the management of both new and existing cultural services, formerly under direct governmental control, is now gradually being assigned to external companies or groups. This public management delegation of a variety of services to external organisations is part of a wider trend.
In the specific area of culture, the process began with the creation of public contractors (public culture foundations or committees, as well as specialised public companies) to accelerate management processes and provide greater flexibility in subcontracting and management of income. At the same time, many secondary services with little cultural impact were outsourced (catering, security, cleaning and even the marketing of goods or services). As a result of the limits placed on staff costs, the interest in obtaining specialised services at competitive rates, or the erosion of internal structures linking public ownership and public management, more and more services forming part of the cultural administration have been outsourced.
During the first phase of this process, publicly owned cultural organisations subcontracted secondary services with a high degree of cultural content to external providers (almost all museums and exhibition centres now have external educational and monitoring services). This was followed by the definitive transfer of all management tasks. The process now extends as far as community centres, municipal arts centres, galleries and exhibition halls, archaeological sites, concert halls, theatres and even museums.
Various national and regional institutions have also introduced changes in the procedure for appointing directors as to improve the objectivity, professionalism and transparency of candidate selection. At the central level, the pilot experience of the Prado Museum was extended to other institutions, such as the National Library of Spain, the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre or the National Library of Spain.
Firstly, under the framework of the Cultural Institution Modernisation Plan, approved in September 2007, and later on, within the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture, this process of greater autonomy in the management of the country’s principal cultural institutions also sought to promote their financial sustainability through a greater public-private collaboration. The Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia National Museum and Art Centre are “special” public institutions, meaning that, under Spain’s continental legal system, they can engage in transactions governed by “private law”.
Sponsorship and fundraising, linked to the greater autonomy of cultural institutions, also encourages a much greater degree of co-operation with local business circles, and enables local administrators to gain experience with innovative and modern management techniques. A good example in this regard is the Barcelona Contemporary Art Museum (MACBA).
In recent years, volunteerism has spread to all sorts of cultural facilities, using formulas such as associations and foundations of Friends of Museums, which are grouped in the Spanish Federation of Friends of Museums, a non-profit established in 1983. Other examples are the Foundation of Friends of the National Library, a private and non-profit institution created in November 2009, and the Foundation of Friends of the Prado Museum with more than 21 000 members. In this line, the benefactors’ programme of the Prado Museum currently provides around 30% of its internal financing.
According to the data of the Special Eurobarometer 466 on Cultural Heritage (2017), 4% of the Spanish population donates money or other resources to an organisation active in the field of cultural heritage (average EU28 was 7%), and 3% does voluntary work for heritage organisations (average EU28: 5%).