Culture is future » Financing and economic models

05.30.2013

When Spanish Culture is No Longer an Exception.

Spanish cultural institutions have lost 70% of their means since 2009. The creative and cultural industries' sector is suffering a serious financial and moral crisis. Indeed, culture is no longer considered as an exception, i.e.: the cultural VAT has passed from 8% to 21%. 

The hammer blows the spanish culture has gotten since 2012 are obviously linked to the 2007 economic crisis, but they've been blasting because of many Rajoy Government's political decisions, among them the dramatic drop of public budgets ( - 17% in 2013), and the raise of the VAT to 21%, the highest in Europe. "We are not talking about a bad management, assure the highest spanish cultural institution's responsibles, but about a conscious operation by with [the government] wants devalue culture".

An alarmingly low public financement

The Huge reduction have concerned first the most important spanish culture symbols: the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum, the Teatro Real and the Grand Teatre del Liceu, but key institutions as the General Direction of Cultural Indusries, the Spanish Libraries network and the Cinema Institude have also been damaged. Such situation would have been unimaginable in 2007. It's something that has never been seen before, and moreover, the Ministry of Culture has been related to the Ministry of Education and Sports.

The situations is extremely tense. When the budgetary reductions were announced for the Madrid Opera house, the Teatro Real, (a drop of 50% of the State Subventions), Gerard Mortier, the artistic director, and Gregorio Marañon, the management director, threatened with resign from the theater because it was so difficult to manage. Finally, the reduction was stabilized around 30%, with will produce a €3m deficit (instead of €12m !). Consequence: production and operating spendings must decrease considerably, and many shows are cancelled.

The 52 State libraries have no euro to buy new books because of the reduction of 60%, while the visits have increased of 11% between 2008 and 2010 (according to a study from the INE in 2011).

And last but not least, in the fine arts sectors the priority consists in conserve the heritage, to the detriment of the present creation. Instead of 5 exhibitions, what was normal, galleries only show 4. Everybody has to  search more and more private and international contributions.

Then, the cultural and creative industries are considered like any other industry. While the cultural sector represents 4% of the Spanish GDP, what is €42.890.88 and produces around 600 000 jobs, in 2011, the government talks about "some products of entertainment as shows, cinema, theater and other tickets" to justify the VAT rise.

Even tough, Spain one of the most impressing heritages, and successes in terms of cultural investment as the Bilbao one, we can regret that culture is no longer a source of learnings everydy should access, and able to contribute to the economic development of a country.

To come: ZOOM about theatre and cinema in Spain.

 

Daniel MacAyza Montes.