At state level, the Sub Directorate-General for Historic Heritage Protection and the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute are the organisms responsible for heritage policies. Both bodies are in charge of protecting cultural heritage, enriching the state-owned collections, promoting international cooperation related to heritage and restoring works of art and archaeological objects owned by the state, other public administrations or the Church. The National Heritage Plans are the instruments for heritage management and are shared by different instances of the public administration with the participation of other public and private institutions. Its aim is the development of shared criteria, methods, and coordinated programs of activities, including actions of preservation, conservation, restoration, research, documentation, training and dissemination. There are currently 14 National Cultural Heritage Plans.
Also noteworthy is the task carried out by National Heritage, an organism attached to the Ministry of the Presidency, responsible for the assets of the Royal Sites (cultural and natural) and Royal Collections, which are currently State ownership derived from the legacy of the Spanish Crown. Among its strategic goals, contained in the Action Plan 2017-2021, are the development of a sponsorship policy, the increase in the total number of visitors and entrance revenues, the conservation of its heritage and the modernisation of the organisation.
In general terms, the current heritage policy is faced with three challenges, namely:
- updating national, regional and local legislation. There are new concepts and law figures to be included (intangible heritage) and there are controversial issues such as the right for private visits associated with the designation of movable and immovable material heritage under special categories (which poses technical problems in terms of access and conservation, as well as conflict of interest or troubles with the right to intimacy of the private owners);
- developing plans to foster comprehension and validation of cultural heritage sites and properties as a tool to promote local cultural identity; and
- differentiating, particularly at the local level, the intrinsic aims of conservation and protection and the extrinsic economic significance vis-à-vis tourism, within an overall regional policy.
Two other issues related to the current debate about Spain’s cultural heritage are its diversity and the limits of its scope. This is part of an ongoing discussion about the term cultural heritage being extended to new fields, such as contemporary history, industrial properties and intangible heritage.
One of the goals of the Ministry of Culture during the past few years has been to improve the management of historical heritage and to allow its integration into the “society of knowledge”. Both aims are incorporated in the Culture Plan 2020 through different initiatives, such as:
- the “Cultura inteligente 2020” [Intelligent Culture 2020] aimed to facilitate the digital transformation of cultural institutions, as well as the standardization, interoperability and reutilization of digital cultural contents;
- the updating of the web portal on assets of the Spanish historical heritage (PH.es);
- the establishment of a new audiovisual platform “Danzamedia” aimed at disseminating and studying the Spanish choreographic creation;
- the establishment of the Information Centre on the Spanish Cultural Heritage, and
- the design of new plans aimed to contribute to the conservation of digital heritage and the digitisation of bibliographic heritage.
More recently, the central government has also encouraged the social accessibility to cultural heritage through initiatives such as Museos más sociales [Museums More Social] (see chapter 2.2) and the development of new publics.