The victory of the Popular Party in the 2011 elections led to the appointment of a single Minister for the areas of culture, education and sport. The basic lines of action for the period 2011-June 2018 were included in the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015, firstly, and the Culture Plan 2020 of the State Secretariat for Culture, later on.
Both periods were mainly focused on giving new impetus to culture as a right and as an economic engine, and to promoting Spanish culture abroad. Priorities for the period 2017-2020, incorporated in the Culture Plan 2020, were specified in the following five general objectives:
- to promote a cultural offer of quality, articulating a state policy that guarantees the right of access to culture through the improvement of facilities and the technological modernisation of cultural management;
- to update the legal framework of cultural protection;
- to promote a social alliance for culture that encourages participation and the role of civil society in the support and promotion of culture;
- to promote culture as a critical tool to disseminate the “brand” Spain abroad; and
- to facilitate creation, improving the conditions for contemporary creation and intellectual innovation, as key elements for the social development.
These priorities do not differ to a great extent from those of the previous government during its two terms in government (2004-2011), although the context of a severe economic crisis led to further cuts in culture, as well as to greater requirements for effectiveness, efficiency and transparency. In addition to rationality in public spending, the government’s discourse became more centralist and some regions, particularly Catalonia, perceived this as an attack on the cultural plurality of the country.
The new Culture Plan 2020, passed in March 2017, in a less restrictive economic environment, has mainly focussed its first year on the promotion of reading and cinema, with new tax incentives, as well as on the adoption of measures to combat the high rates of piracy.
The unexpected rise to power of the Socialist Party in June 2018 has introduced some changes in policy discourses recognising the cultural diversity of Spain. Among the initiatives announced by the new Ministry (July 2018), we can highlight: the follow-up of the statute of artists’ proposal; a new law for cultural heritage; the defence of the richness of co-official languages and the need of dialogue among them and the reform of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM).
Apart from cultural activity of the central administration, regional and local authorities hold many of the responsibilities for culture in Spain and execute the highest proportion of public expenditure (86% in 2016). The central government is, therefore, left with a limited scope of responsibility in terms of public policy making, though it has considerable weight in underlying policy through its constitutional mandate and its control of culture vis-à-vis foreign policy, not to mention its continued control over the best known and most influential cultural institutions.
The rise of social movements during the economic crisis prompted the establishment of new political parties and electoral alliances that entered into the political spectrum, especially since May 2015 when these coalitions (called “municipalist”) won the local elections in some of the most important capital cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Valencia, Cádiz and A Coruña. Their cultural policy proposals have focused on a democratic regeneration of institutions and the increase of citizen participation in decision-making processes.