sábado, 18 de mayo de 2013

El gobierno y la cultura: ¿cómo es su relación?

Me hace mucha gracia rememorar textos que he escrito hace ya tiempo.... Y aunque me de algo de verguenza, hoy os quiero presentar un pequeño artículo en inglés que escribí en 2010 sobre la relación entre el gobierno y la cultura en nuestro país. Sé que ya han pasado algunos años, pero varios puntos siguen todavía de actualidad. Espero que guste.... 

******************
The Spanish Constitution establishes that culture is a right of all citizens and the State has the obligation to guarantee its democratisation [1]. As a result, the State has become the main agent responsible for fostering and disseminating culture. In relation to contemporary art, the State has identified two courses of action: the promotion and the support of production. Nevertheless, the study Cultural policies in the Spanish State (1985-2005) established that the government has developed more promotional actions than initiatives for supporting the production aside from occasional subsidies and awards [2]. Contemporary art has been used as a marketing tool with the sole purpose of promoting the modern image of Spain and increasing tourism.

Regarding the promotion of art in Spain, public authorities have built numerous museums. In fact, Spain had 1,455 museums in 2008 (122 dedicated to contemporary art) according to the most recent statistics published by the Ministry of Culture [3]. Nevertheless, politicians have been more concerned about creating famous landmarks to attract tourists than on developing the content of museums to educate society. In fact, some museums have been planned without considering the budget needed for the creation of the collections or the design of the curatorial programmes. The centre La Paneira, for instance, was opened in Lleida (Catalonia) in 2003 without even having a director [4]. However, this lack of planning is not the only challenge faced by the museums. These institutions also suffer from the continuous interventionism of politicians in the main management decisions. One of the most recent cases has been that of the MuVIM [5]. This museum inaugurated the exhibition Fragments of a year-2009 which exhibited 91 photographs. Ten of them were images related to a corruption case which involved politicians of the region and were removed by the regional government leading to the dismissal of its director (Ramón de la Calle) [6]. This shows how politicised the cultural sector is in Spain. However, the political interventionism is mainly visible in the appointments of the management teams. It is well-known in Spain that when the political party in power changes, the directors of cultural institutions also change and the new ones are selected by the new government. Apart from the fact that sometimes the chosen candidate is not the right person, the constant changes in directors lead to inconsistency that affects projects and strategies because the different teams do not coordinate their activities. In numerous instances, there are no transitional processes to allow the last museum project to be completed, thereby wasting the money and time invested by previous directors. 

The lack of budgets, the lack of autonomy and the lack of long-term strategies restrict the modernization and the renovation of these museums. Moreover, the changes in teams, budgets and strategies also affect the acquisitions of these centres as well as the programmes created to educate the Spanish audience about contemporary art (affecting indirectly the social demand for artworks).

Regarding promotion abroad, government organisations (like the Ministry of Culture or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and public entities (like the Instituto Cervantes, SEACEX or Fundación Carolina) develop initiatives to bring Spanish art closer to international audiences. Firstly, they support the presence of artists, curators and galleries in international biennales, exhibitions and fairs by granting subsidies to cover the travel costs or the exhibition stands. The regional governments, for instance, spent more than 5,226,000 million in subsidies in 2009 [7]. Furthermore, government and public institutions also organise Spanish art exhibitions in foreign cities. But despite these initiatives, the investments of the public sector on the international promotion of the arts have not been successful. The Spanish contemporary art scene continues to be unknown outside the country and only a few Spanish artists enjoy international recognition. The lack of success of the public organisations in promoting abroad is due to several factors.

Firstly, the existence of many organisations with similar aims but with different structures, the scarce budgets (distributed among all the institutions) and the lack of coordination between the offices lead to the diversification of strengths, budgets and objectives. Due to this diversification, the different organisations and institutions are incapable of competing in the international market since they create numerous initiatives but these have little international repercussion. Moreover, the majority of these organisations do not cover potential areas for the Spanish market. The study Lights and Shadows of the Cultural Action Abroad states that the work of the majority of the entities is mainly focused on Europe and Latin-America [8]. Promotional activity in other areas like Asia or North-America is still limited and has been undertaken in few cities. Due to this, potential areas with strong art markets like the USA or the Arab countries have just limited information (or no information at all) about the Spanish emerging art scene, which in turn affects demand. Finally, the majority of these organisations are controlled by civil servants instead of art professionals. For instance, the Instituto Cervantes (Spanish version of the British Council) has a board of trustees made up of the Prime Minister, the Culture Minister, the Foreign Minister and the President of the Board of Directors among others [9]. The constant changes in the political party that lead to changes in the management teams do not help to create long-term strategies and continued actions.

To fight against the politicisation of the cultural sector, associations like the Association of Museum Directors or the Art Galleries Society have demanded the public authorities to improve the functional and structural organisation of cultural infrastructures. They have defended the creation of a selection process for directors who would be unaffected by political change and the better distribution of the public budget. Thanks to their lobbying, good initiatives have been created. The Parliament, for instance, approved the document A Guide of Good Practice for Contemporary Museums and Art Centres in Spain in 2006, which aims to depoliticise the museums and improve their management. However, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to professionalise the cultural sector in Spain, achieve its total independency from political changes and optimise the existing resources.



[1] The 1978 Constitution

[2] Badia, T. and Marzo, J.L. (2006) Las Políticas Culturales en el Estado Español (1985-2005), p. 26.

[3] Ministerio de Cultura (2008). Estadísticas de museos y colecciones monográficas en 2008, MCU. Available in http://www.mcu.es/estadisticas/MC/EM/2008/Metodologia.html

[4] Vozmediano, E. and Hontoria, J.  “Lujos y miserias de los centros autonómicos”, El Mundo, “El Cultural”, 11/09/2003.

[5] Museu Valencià de la Illustració and Modernitat

[6] Terrasa, R. “El director del MuVIM dimite por dignidad y asegura que la censura viene desde arriba”, El Mundo, 08/03/2010.

[7] “Más de 5 millones de euros en ayudas a la internacionalización de las galerías y artistas españoles”, Arteinformado, 31/05/2010.

[8] Noya, J. (2003) Luces y sombras de la acción cultural exterior, Madrid: Real Instituto Elcano de Estudios Internacionales y Estratégicos, p. 5-6.

[9] More information in www.institutocervantes.com

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario