cultural institutions and movements

cultural institutions and movements
   As with other aspects of Spanish life, cultural institutions and movements have shown increasing complexity and diversification since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975. Francoist culture, characterized by Castilian-centred nationalism and an identification of Spanishness with National Catholicism, was an attempt to express the ideology of the faction which had emerged victorious from the Civil War. Cultural and intellectual life was controlled by a rigorous censorship, which encouraged a "culture of evasion", the uncritical acceptance of optimistic views of current reality purveyed through the cinema (see also film and cinema), sentimental popular literature, and spectator sports, especially 132 cultural institutions and movements football. The attempt to impose cultural homogeneity, however, was undermined by the survival of some elements of intellectual independence among certain élites, and the continued vitality of Basque, Catalan and Galician cultures.
   The other factor which defeated the regime's attempts to create an official culture was lack of resources, but this situation changed radically with the restoration of democracy, particularly after the victory of the socialist PSOE in the elections of 1982. Already in 1977 the UCD administration had set up a new Ministry of Culture, which took over some of the functions previously exercised by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information and Tourism. In the 1980s, the new Ministry assumed an increasingly pro-active role in revitalizing Spanish cultural institutions, and preserving the national heritage more effectively. The Law of Spanish National Heritage (1985) set up a General Register of Heritage Sites and Objects, and made it an offence to alter, sell or export without permission any art object or site listed in this register. The arts budget was increased by around 70 percent between 1982 and 1989, and though there were cutbacks in the 1990s, considerable advances were made. Museums and art galleries were among the major beneficiaries of government spending, and the results were seen in the modernization and expansion of existing buildings, and the enhance-ment of national art collections by a programme of acquisition of contemporary works. Generous support was given to the film industry, which also enjoyed a measure of protection under the "screen quota" system (see also cinema law). New concert halls were built, notably the Auditorio Nacional de Música (National Concert Hall, 1984–90), and the refurbished Royal Theatre was re-opened in its original character as an opera house in October 1997. In the same month, the spectacular results achieved through private finance were exemplified in the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which not only provides an outstanding venue for the display of contemporary art, but is itself a strikingly modern architectural statement.
   The budget of the Ministry of Culture was reduced in the 1990s as more and more activity was undertaken by the governments of the various autonomous communities, though the central authorities continued to be involved in supporting regional projects, such as the refurbishment of regional theatres, and the construction of new concert halls. New music festivals have been inaugurated in Alicante and Cuenca, and few regions are now without their own orchestras. Public art galleries have been opened, notably the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (Valencia Institute of Modern Art). In parallel with, but independently of these developments at official level, the popular "culture of evasion" continued to flourish, helped by an increasingly active publishing industry which flooded the market with new books and magazines, usually categorized as kiosk literature. Nevertheless, the interest of the wider public in more challenging cultural manifestations such as art exhibitions has burgeoned. The International Festival of Contemporary Art held in Madrid in 1983 attracted huge numbers of visitors. A survey carried out by the Ministry of Culture in 1985 indicated that 20 percent of all Spaniards over the age of fourteen visit an art gallery at least once a fortnight. A major exhibition of Velázquez's paintings in the Prado Museum in 1990 attracted a total of half a million people. Figures produced for 1995 show that reading (55 percent) and listening to music (70 percent) are the favourite leisure activities of more people than watch spectator sports or go to discos (25 percent each). In addition to this expansion of what came to be called la demands cultural ("cultural demand"), there were various alternative movements, with a strong current of non-conformity, which derived largely from the heady experience of freedom after the stifling climate of the Franco years. The most symptomatic of these was the Madrid-based phenomenon called la Movida, an untranslatable term which carries connotations of excitement, experimentation and excess, akin to the climate of the "swinging London" of the 1960s. From about 1980, discos, bars and clubs proliferated, and new punk bands and independent record companies sprang up to feed the taste of a youth clientele in reaction against the rock music of the 1970s. The cinema also provided an outlet for the movement, one of its most representative figures being the director Pedro Almodóvar.
   Almodóvar is also a link to the other main alternative movement, gay culture. The first Gay Pride march was held in Barcelona in the same month as the first democratic elections since the Civil War (June 1977), though it was not until 1995 that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation was made an offence under the new Penal Code. As with la Movida, music plays a central role in gay culture, not only in the large number of gay bars and clubs which have sprung up in major cities since the late 1970s, but also in some aspects of the Nova cançó, notably in the work of Lluís Llach. While it would be untrue to say that the Franco regime stifled cultural endeavour completely, it is clear that since 1975 a new balance has been struck between élite cultures and the cultures of previously neglected groups such as gay people, the young and the inhabitants of peripheral regions.
   See also: film and cinema; flamenco; language and national identity; music; novel; performing arts; poetry; theatre; visual arts
   Further reading
   - Graham, H. and Labanyi, J. (eds) (1995) Spanish Cultural Studies, an Introduction: The Struggle for Modernity, Oxford: Oxford University Press ( see part IV, chapters 18–22, for an authoritative account by various specialist authors of the cultural changes since 1975).
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapters 23 and 24 offer an excellent overview of the development of cultural life since 1975).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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