Ministry of Culture

Ministry of Culture
   Established in 1977 by the centre-right UCD administration to take over some of the functions discharged by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information and Tourism during the Franco regime, the Ministry of Culture continued as a separate entity under the socialist PSOE government from 1982, but was merged into the Ministry of Education and Culture as part of the reorganization of Ministries under the centre-right PP in May 1996.
   The Ministry performs two major and interrelated functions, that of exercising financial control over its portion (in the region of 0.4 percent) of the state budget, and of contributing to the formulation and implementation of government policy on cultural matters. On the financial front it dispenses grants of public monies to a wide range of cultural institutions such as national and state museums, the autonomous Prado Museum and Queen Sofía Museum, the National Library (see also libraries), the Auditorio Nacional de Música, the National Orchestras, the Royal Theatre and various other theatres and concert halls; to the upkeep of cathedrals; to the Spanish film industry (see also film and cinema), and to the Institute of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Goods, the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts and the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music. As a result of increased devolution, however, the autonomous regions and municipal authorities are emerging as major funders of the arts, and this trend is set to continue with central government happy to transfer to them responsibility for buildings and events from which they derive tourist revenue.
   With regard to policy, the 1980s and 1990s saw the creation of central agencies, such as the Centre for Exhibitions and Artistic Promotion, the formulation of plans, such as the Architectural Plan for the Renovation of State Museums, and the introduction of important legislation, especially the 1985 Law of Spanish National Heritage, which made it illegal to alter, sell or export without permission sites and objects listed on the General Register of Heritage Sites and Objects.
   The merger with Education in 1996 was attended with considerable controversy. Academics, writers and other prominent figures connected with cultural activity saw it as an indication of lack of commitment to culture on the part of the government. Moreover, the public statements of the Education Minister, Esperanza Aguirre, particularly about the teaching of history from a "national" perspective, were regarded in those autonomous communities which had a distinctive regional culture as a return to the unitary, centralist vision of Spain which had been dominant under the Franco regime.
   See also: arts funding; arts policy
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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