Spain/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

With the aim of providing a cross-cutting element to the cultural field, there are a number of collegiate bodies in which different levels of the public administration or different areas of the same level cooperate. For instance, the government that emerged from the November 2011 elections re-established the Executive Committee of the Government in Cultural Affairs (Royal Decree 1886/2011), which had been abolished in 2004 by the Socialist government. It is responsible for overseeing inter-ministerial cooperation, particularly, with the Ministries of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Economy and Competitiveness.

Traditional inter-ministerial cooperation initiatives include programmes, such as "One Per Cent for Culture", referred to the financing generated by public works (at least 1% of their budget) that has to finance works of conservation or enrichment of the Spanish Cultural Heritage or to enhance artistic creativity (Historical Heritage Act, 16/1985 Act). The programme is coordinated by an inter-ministerial Committee created in 2004, and composed of the Secretariat of State for Culture, the Ministry of Development and the Secretariat of State for the Environment. The Committee undertakes joint actions that promote the conservation and enrichment of Spanish historical heritage (see chapter 5.3.1 and chapter 5.3.3).

In accordance with the provisions of the National Plan for the Protection of Underwater Archaeological Heritage, in July 2009, the Ministries of Defence and Culture drew up a general protocol to cooperate and coordinate the protection of underwater archaeological heritage. In September 2009, the government created a General Commission for the coordination of almost 900 state libraries. The functions of the Commission include the constitution of a committee in each of the ministries, as well as the establishment of a single point of query for all the library collections. Moreover, at the end of 2011, the new Commission of Archives of the General Administration of the State was created with the aim of coordinating the archival policy of the Ministries and public organisms dependent on this governmental body.

In July 2011, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health, Social Policy and Equality presented the document A Comprehensive Strategy of culture for all, that seeks to provide full accessibility to spaces, cultural activities and services managed by the Ministry of Culture and the National Heritage, to encourage artistic creation of people with disabilities, as well as their activity as direct cultural managers, and to promote research on technologies that facilitate accessibility to cultural content and spaces. In November 2011, an inter-ministerial body (Inclusive Culture Forum) was created for the follow-up of this initiative, which is composed of both Ministries, National Heritage, the largest organisation representing people with disabilities, public and private referral centres and various experts.

In December 2011, to combat infringements of intellectual property rights, an inter-sector Commission on Intellectual Property was set up, whose members are proposed by the Sub-Secretariat of the Ministries of Justice, Education, Culture and Sport, and Economy and Competitiveness.

With the aim of promoting cultural tourism in the country, in October 2013, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, together with the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, signed an agreement to promote Spain as a cultural tourism destination. The agreement which will run until December 2015 establishes the basis of collaboration between the Directorate-General for the Cultural Industries and Book Policy and Turespaña.

In terms of intergovernmental co-operation, the state is constitutionally mandated to arrange for cultural communication among the different regions "in collaboration with them". To do so, the central government set up a specific unit (Sub-Directorate General for Communication with Autonomous Communities, today titled the Sub-Directorate General for Cultural Cooperation with the Autonomous Communities) under the wing of the Directorate-General for Cultural Industries and Book Policy of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. The unit's task is to cooperate with the regions in their cultural programmes; to foster interregional communication in the area; to disseminate the wealth and range of the regions' cultural heritages; and to exchange information about cultural policies. It is also responsible for ensuring that the cultural diversity of Spain's regions is fully appreciated abroad, a task that the unit carries out in co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, and Spanish embassies and consulates around the world.

In practice, the mechanisms for coordinating central and regional government activities on cultural matters have operated with different degrees of success. The Plenary session of the Sectoral Conference on Culture met once in the third legislature (1986-1989), twice in the fourth (1989-1993) and the fifth (1993-1996) legislatures, not once in the sixth and the seventh (1996-2004), eight times in the eighth (2004-2008), nine times in the ninth (2008-2011) and five in the present legislature (2011-).

The General Strategic Plan 2012-2015 of the State Secretariat for Culture incorporates, as one of its five main objectives, the reinforcement of the instruments of communication and cultural cooperation between public administrations and other institutions, to promote an efficient and rational use of cultural resources. Among the specific measures to improve communication and cultural cooperation, in particular with the Autonomous Communities, there is the impetus for the Sectoral Conference on Culture, the Historic Heritage Council, the Council of Library Cooperation, the State Council for Performing Arts and Music, as well as the Council of St James. All of them are organisms coordinated by the central and regional administrations. Moreover, the plan includes new funding mechanisms in support of theatre and circus programming in venues managed by the local administrations, as well as other aids to local authorities for activities that promote cultural communication (see also chapter 8.1.1).

Recovering and preserving the national heritage is the area where the combined action by the different levels of government has proven most fruitful. Spain is the third country in the world with the largest number of individual cultural sites designated "World Heritage Sites" by UNESCO. Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a proliferation of cooperation agreements at different levels of government mainly for major urban developments associated with the construction of prestigious cultural monuments / sites. One example is the Council of St. James, which was created in 2001 as a co-operation entity to facilitate communication between the central administration and the participating Autonomous Communities. The specific objective of this Council is to co-ordinate and collaborate on programmes and activities related to St. James's Way and the celebration of St James' Holy Years. Since September 2009, the Council has had a cooperation committee that manages the world heritage site and ensures collaboration between the central administration and the nine Autonomous Communities over which St. James' Way runs: Aragon, Asturias, the Basque Country, Cantabria, Castile-Leon, Catalonia, Galicia, La Rioja and Navarre. Another example took place in early 2006 when the Ministry of Culture and the autonomous government of Castile-Leon signed an agreement to boost the development of the Ruta de la Plata (the Silver Road) as a quality cultural itinerary. Another example was initiated in July 2006, when the Ministry of Culture and the autonomous governments of Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Valencia and Aragon reached an agreement for the constitution of the Archive of the Crown of Aragon Trust (Royal Decree 1267/2006). In August 2011, a committee was set up to monitor the Recovery Plan for the Cultural Heritage of Lorca. It is composed of representatives from the Ministries of Development and Education, Culture and Sport, the Autonomous Community of Murcia, the Bishopric and the City Council of Lorca. This committee has been responsible for planning the actions to be taken to recover the assets affected by the earthquake. In June 2013, with the aim of channelling archival cooperation, the Archival Cooperation Council was established. It is composed of all Autonomous Communities, ministerial departments, the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, as well as of the University Council. At the end of 2014, as a result of an initiative of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music, a working group involving the state and the Autonomous Communities was established with the goal of bringing together actions aimed at the preservation, cataloguing and dissemination of Spanish musical heritage.

Beyond the heritage field, in 2014, within the framework of the Sectoral Conference of Culture, a working group composed of representatives of the Film and Audiovisual Arts Institute and Autonomous Communities was established with the aim of promoting communication and cooperation in various aspects related to the cinematography and audiovisual field.

As for relations among the regions themselves, the level of information and technical exchange is extremely low, with the exception of the historic communities. Collaboration between Catalonia and the Basque Country has materialised over the years in numerous projects and the exchange of information and experiences on their cultural policies. In late 2007, the Departments of Culture of those communities and of Galicia agreed to create a joint programme and to collaborate regularly in the following fields: cultural heritage, the arts, cultural industries and popular culture. In May 2010, the Autonomous Communities of Castile-Leon, Galicia, La Rioja, Navarra and Aragon signed an agreement to coordinate the activities related to maintenance, conservation, cultural and heritage cooperation, health, and the safety and protection of pilgrims in these five regions through which the St. James' Way crosses.

Similarly, very little progress has been made in inter-regional and national-regional co-ordination to project Spanish culture internationally. Until recently, the notable exception has been the Ramon Llull Institute, a body set up by the Catalan and Balearic governments, with cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, to promote Catalan language and culture abroad. However, in December 2012, the Balearic government announced its willingness to abandon the leadership of the Consortium, largely motivated by the pro-independence orientation of the Catalan government.

In terms of co-operation at the municipal level, aside from the abovementioned examples involving central and regional government and the councils of certain cities, mention should also be made of the assistance provided by certain regional governments for local townships. For example, the Island Councils of the Canaries and the Provincial Councils of some regions, mainly the Basque Country and Catalonia, have contributed to the development of inter-municipal cultural activities through museums, libraries, archives and local theatre tours. Municipal culture departments have also worked together with their colleagues responsible for urban development, education or tourism. Beginning in the 1980s, a number of cities started integrated development projects, covering urban development, education, welfare, and tourism and culture (often with the support of European aid programmes for the reconstruction of city centres and in Barcelona and Cadiz). Since the Agenda 21 for Culture was approved on 8 May 2004, a growing number of Spanish cities and municipalities have adopted it at local government level. To promote the principles enshrined in the document, the United Cities and Local Governments established a Working Group on Culture, which is chaired by the Councillor for Culture of the Barcelona City Council. In 2009, the Guide for the evaluation of local cultural policies was published as a result of collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and a group of experts appointed by the Culture Committee of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces. This publication was a pioneering guide at international level, and the first practical implementation of the Agenda 21 for Culture in the design of tools for planning and assessing cultural policies.


Chapter published: 24-06-2015


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