Portugal/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and debates  

4.2.1 Conceptual issues of policies for the arts

The constraints on the public funding of culture, specifically the recurring reduced Ministry of Culture budget, became the central cultural policy issue (see  chapter 6). This trend was already in motion before the 2008 global financial crisis and clearly has been even more apparent since then. As a predictable consequence, the Ministry's own activity was adjusted and contained through measures such as the merging or closing of some of its departments and the suspension or delay of specific programmes. The very existence of a Ministry of Culture and its replacement by a Secretary of State begun to be debated, meaning, at least as a symbolic measure, a regression to the mid-1990s as far as cultural policy is concerned. With the Nineteenth Government (June 2011) this replacement became effective.

Alongside the impact of financial constraints on cultural policy, some possible articulations with other public policies have come to the fore in recent years, namely the Economy and Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of Culture promoted a study on The Cultural and Creative Sector in Portugal which was presented in 2009 (drawing, at the national level, on important aspects from the 2006 KEA "The Economy of Culture in Europe" report for the European Commission). Although it has not resulted directly in new measures or programmes, it created a somewhat new public awareness for the economic importance of cultural activities (see  chapter 4.2.3). As elsewhere, the ensuing debate was two-fold: some concerns were also voiced by cultural agents expressing some doubts about the meaning of "the creative sector" and concerns about the loss of specific perspectives on the core cultural and artistic sectors.

A joint strategy by the Foreign Affairs and Culture Ministries was advanced through a protocol signed in late 2010, which reinforced Camões Institute's attributions and competences regarding the international promotion of Portuguese culture. This protocol might prove to be of some importance in the near future given that, even though Camões Institute's administration is shared by both Ministries, it was not always possible to find a common orientation in the past. A major priority defined by this protocol is to expand the diffusion of information about Portuguese cultural productions and artists through the Camões Institute's cultural centres' global network.

Chapter published: 13-07-2011