8.1 General context
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The Spanish Constitution of 1978 (Constitución de 1978) establishes in its article 44.1 that "the public authorities will promote and protect access to culture, to which everyone has the right." According to the article 46, Spanish citizens are also obliged to preserve their historical and cultural heritage and any attacks on it might be penalized by criminal law.
According to the survey of cultural habits and practices in Spain 2018-2019 carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Sport (Ministerio de Cultura y Deporte) young people have the highest cultural participation rates in virtually all cultural fields: they visited more museums and monuments, attended more stage and musical shows, read more, went to libraries more often and engaged in more active cultural practices compared to older citizens. This very high participation rate is inversely correlated with age. Also the educational level is one of the most decisive variables for cultural participation, with those with higher educational attainment being significantly more likely to engage in cultural activities.
Additionally one of the issues hindering youth access to culture are the costs associated with participating in cultural activities. Given that the resources available to the youth are scarce, going to the theatre, exhibition or a concert implies expenditure not affordable for all income groups. Thus, for many young people, some cultural practices require particular level of commitment.
Cultural heritage: The cultural heritage is no longer limited to monuments and collections of objects that are part of the material cultural heritage. Nowadays, it also includes oral traditions, performing arts, social customs, rituals, festive acts, knowledge and practices related to nature and the universe, and knowledge and techniques linked to traditional crafts that are part of the intangible cultural heritage.
Access to culture: As previously mentioned, access to culture is unambiguously endorsed by the Spanish Constitution in the article 44.1, where it is conceptualised as a universal right. It is also one of the main components of the Ministry of Culture and Sport Cultural Plan 2020 (Plan Cultura 2020). In fact, universal access to culture is mentioned directly in the first and third objectives of the plan and integrated in its strategy 3.7: “Improvement of social access to cultural heritage”.
Although a strong emphasis is given by public authorities in the field of education and culture to the notion of cultural access, it is less present in a wide-range of other policies. Moreover, in Spain, the frequency of participation in cultural or sport activities is five points lower than the EU average (source: Eurostat). Nevertheless, it is important to note that among young people (aged between 16 and 29) said participation increases significantly and is only two points below the European average.