The consideration of culture as a tool for social inclusion has been one of the central objectives of the government led by the Popular Party. Firstly, the General Strategic Plan 2012-2015, and, at present, the Culture Plan 2020 of the State Secretariat for Culture include the establishment of a state policy that ensures the right of access to culture and underpins citizenship and social inclusion as one of the five general goals for the next years. In its strategy of collaboration and cultural cooperation with private and public actors, particularly with Autonomous Communities, the government seeks to create a favourable environment for the development of a culture of excellence that contributes to social inclusion and territorial cohesion.
According to Museos más sociales [Museums More Social], the “inclusive museum” is the one that promotes social cohesion and combats exclusion, discrimination and inequality. All in all, it works with and for the whole society, without exceptions.
In relation to minority groups, one of the projects undertaken by the central government was the creation of the Roma Cultural Institute Foundation, a state-owned public sector foundation that is associated with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Its creation was authorised by a Council of Ministers held on 9 March 2007 to support the community of gypsies, which has maintained its own identity in Spain since its entrance in the fifteenth century. At present, this community represents around 1.5% of the Spanish population.
The main aim of the Institute is to contribute to harmonious relations between the various groups and cultures present in Spanish culture, paying special attention to equality of opportunity and to combating discrimination on grounds of gender or race. The Institute also supports the development and promotion of gypsy history, culture and language in all its manifestations, and contributes to its dissemination through research, publications and the organisation of academic and cultural events. In 2012, in accordance with European regulations, the government approved the Strategy for the Social Inclusion of the Gypsy Population in Spain 2012-2020, which includes the promotion of culture as a complementary line of action.
Another cultural project in this field is the Network of Spanish Jewish Quarters, a non-profit public association with the goal of protecting all facets of Sephardic heritage in Spain. Its members promote cultural and academic projects, sharing their experiences and organising events in Spain and abroad, and designing policies of sustainable cultural tourism in their cities.
Given their greater proximity to citizens, local governments run most of the programmes aimed at promoting the social inclusion of immigrants and other vulnerable groups: increasing their access to libraries or civic centres; organising festivals, cultural workshops, etc., or participating in folk and traditional arts. For example, the Barcelona city council launched the Culture network for social Inclusion in 2010, which is articulated as a common space of relations between organisations of the social sphere and of the cultural field. It addresses the actions and reflections on culture and social inclusion and published a map of inclusion-oriented cultural projects in 2011.
Beyond institutional initiatives, there are many actions that promote culture and artistic creation as an “instrument” for the social integration of immigrant communities and cultural minorities in Spain. They act as a “bridge” between these groups and the host population. Among their various objectives, the following are most important:
- intensifying the contacts between the associations and the NGOs: as done by the CEPAIM Foundation. Coexistence and Social Cohesion;
- exchanging good practices on intercultural community action: as done by the CEPAIM Foundation. Coexistence and Social Cohesion;
- increasing visibility through public celebrations and cultural events: the annual festival Murcia: three cultures (Arab, Jewish and Christian) organised by the Murcia City Council; Venagua, organised since 1991 by the Columbares Association in Beniajan (Murcia);
- fostering cultural mixture and respect for diversity: Columbares Association promotes the use of artistic and creative activities such as music, theatre, painting, sculpture or photography to facilitate the inclusion of the most socially vulnerable people;
- contributing to inclusive and intercultural education: the Columbares Association in Murcia organises the Diversity Educates project to promote diversity and mutual respect in the classroom and at home; and
- promoting intercultural coexistence and mutual respect for all cultures: since 1992, the Socio-Cultural Association for Cooperation and Development in Colombia and Latin America (ACULCO) coordinates different cultural projects (festivals, workshops, art exhibitions, etc.) that allow interaction between the autochthonous and immigrants; and Foundation Tot Raval (Barcelona) organises, since 2003, the Culture Festival Raval, which shows the various “Ravals” living in the neighbourhood.