Tensiones y desafíos no resueltos en la GC en Chile: Participación e ideología







Participation and ideology. Unresolved tensions and challenges in the public management of culture in Chile.
Dr. Cristian Antoine




I.                   Introduction
The address presents a contextualized vision of the idea of participation in the genesis and implementation of the public policies in culture in Chile. This in favor of the current controversy over the possibility of creating a Ministry of Culture and Patrimony (MinCultP). The new organism will have to subsume in a single portfolio the Division of Libraries, Archives and Museum (from now on, DIBAM in Spanish), an institution created in 1929 who has under its tuition the “patrimonial matters”, and the National Council of Culture and the Arts (from now on CNCA in Spanish), the public organism that was created in 2003 in order to attend to “cultural and artistic” matters.
Although both institutions were called to “coordinate themselves” in virtue of the Law, in practice this has not occurred, provoking a permanent duplicity of functions, atomization of the resources of the State and an absence in the leadership of the sector, aspects that were left in evidence after the earthquake that occurred on February of 2010.
The idea of creating a Ministry has awakened a certain resistance in the artistic and cultural Chilean circles. Those opposing the initiative sustain their refusal affirmed in the principal that the current state or things guarantees the “participation” of the citizens in the determination of cultural matters and, that a Ministry, centralized, bureaucratic, and regulating, would put it in discussion.
The argument of the government points to the underlining of criteria such as the efficiency in the action of the state and the better taking advantage of the resources.
The address identifies and discusses the relevance of the variable “participation” as one of the jointed axes of the speech in favor of a Ministry of Culture. Starting from a recompilation of primary and secondary sources, also identifies some of the dominant criteria by part of the concerned actors and analyses the new scenario that for the variable of “participation” entails the recent approbation in Chile of a new legislative framework for the sector.
In an effort to testimony for the permanent presence of the Chilean State in the determination of the cultural matters of the nation, the central milestones of the actions of the state in cultural matters are briefly compiled, although the analysis centers itself from 2003 a date that culminated in the process of installation of the CNCA.
This historic perspective allows the revelation of the hesitations of the first democratic governments to define which would be, as it turns out, the specific modality that would assume the state institutionalization of culture in Chile, as well as laying in evidence the lack of existing consensus over the same, aspect that we believe has prolonged itself to this day.
II.- The intervention of the State in cultural matters in Chile. Sketching of a historic development.
It must first be clarified that historiographic perspective is not the most popular of approaches among the specialists in Cultural Policies. For the Chilean case, the systematic approaches are even scarcer.
Among the possible points of view for the analysis of cultural policies, one of the variables that nonetheless produces more consensus among the experts, is the search through them of the mechanisms that stimulate the “participation” of the citizens in the becoming of the cultural and artistic matter of the Nation.
Nevertheless, while some authors have held that the cultural policies have stimulated the political participation and the empowerment of the public Latin-American public (Molina, 2008; Rojas Alcayaga, 2008), other specialists, observing the Chilean case (Garrido Ferrari & Avalos Valdebenito, 2011), allude to the existence of a distance between the discursive level of the citizenry and the concrete reality of the citizen’s participation in the public management of culture.
What stands true is that we lack the visions of a group over the evolution of the idea of participation in the Chilean cultural policies. We also do not have at our disposal the views that allow comparison, with greater perspective, of the central aspects of that process in the context of the disciplinary development of the topic, in the Latin-American plane as well as its projection to the societies of western democratic cut.
The Chilean State has been a permanent decisive actor in the formulation of cultural policies throughout the last quarter of a century. With some joint inflections, it has also been a factor of powerful influx, especially in the financing of the activities and the promotion of these through a series of institutions of its dependence with incidence in the development of the sector. To that space of organic (structures and apparatus) and judicial (laws and regulations) presence of the State in culture the term “cultural institutionality” (Agustin Squella, 2006) was defined halfway through the 90’s.
III. The current cultural institutionalism of Chile.
The State of Chile has historically manifested an active attitude in matters of cultural policies, assuming in the course of history a protagonist role in the cultural development.
Bar (2006) has held that the new cultural institutionalism was created in a particular moment in the history of Chile, coinciding with the recuperation of democracy and, because of it, in the midst of a series of judicial, historic, economic, social and political conditions that are necessary in order to understand its genesis (Bar, 2006).
Among the highlights are the recognition of culture as an obligation of the State, an aspect that had been established in the Constitutional Policy of 1980 and the strong impulse given to culture on behalf of the first governments of the Concertación governing coalition, the political alliance of the liberal socialism that defeated Pinochet in the ballot boxes in 1989 and governed the country until March of 2010.
The left wing party in general and the Chilean socialism in particular, have also manifested a preferential attention for the cultural matters of the nation (Arriagada, 2007; Bowen Silva 2008; Lihn, 1971). For some observers (Astaburuga Ossa, 2009; Gamelin & Vasquez, 2010; Priestland, 2010), it derives essentially from its doctrinal adscription to Gramscism as a form of interlocution between politics and culture.
“This relationship (bases its origins in) the political history prior to 1990: on one side, the narrow bonds of socialist president Salvador Allende with the world of culture as a leader of the utopias in the 60’s and the early 70’s and as a counterpoint, the cultural monotony of the military government of Augusto Pinochet” (Bar, 2006).
A new condition is the due consideration of the economic development of the country. Javier Stanziola (2002) has demonstrated how at the start of the decade of the 90’s the incidence of the Chilean economic policies incurred in its cultural development. In effect, “the efforts of privatization [in the two rounds of privatization at the start of the 70’s and halfway through the 80’s]…have had a significant effect in the manner in which the cultural goods and services are produced and provisioned in Chile” (Stanziola 2002).
The fourth condition announced by Bar points to also recognize a role to the changes produced by the technological development of the last two decades and the phenomenon of globalization. This has generated an explosive acceleration in communications and a growing interchange between cultures, bringing important challenges along with it.
In effect, close to assuming, in March of 1990, the government of President Patricio Aylwin (1990-1994), the first head of state convoked a Presidential Commission in order to attend the confection of a diagnostic of the Chilean cultural reality. The commission was presided by sociologist Manuel Antonio Garretón, and had as a fundamental mission the elaboration of a proposal for the creation of a new cultural institutionalism in the country.
The labor concluded with the proposal of the creation of a Council of the Culture, conceived as an autonomous public service and decentralized, directly dependant of the President of the Republic and whose maximum authority would have the rank of minister.
The Commission identified five central problems of the organic Chilean culture: the administrative dispersion, the shortage of resources, the lack of policies and an adequate judicial framework, the deficient formation of the human resources involved and the in-coordination with other relevant agents. It was then considered that a new institutionalism had to concentrate the functions that in cultural matters carried out diverse repartitions of the State, strengthen the cultural development linking the patrimony with the promotion to the arts, offer channels of communication with the State and count with the resources and the capacity of decision necessary to contribute to the development of this matter.
Although the figure of a Minister is considered as the most adequate structure, it was strategically opted for that of a Council, since the creation of the first implied procedures that could be very long and tiring (ARSChile, 2011). The concretion of this new state organism would see itself delayed in more than a decade.
The Garretón Commission equally considered the necessity of increasing the national budget for culture, an aspect that was concreted a little while after with the creation of the National Fund for the Development of the Arts (FONDART in Spanish) (Antoine Faúndez, 2012).
Subsequently, a gathering about public policies, legislation and cultural proposals, carried out in 1996, reiterated the necessity to advance towards the creation of a cultural institutionalism (National, 1996). Despite the existing consensus in the majority of the actors involved, almost a decade passed without achieving a single concrete initiative in that sense.
The most significant changes at the start of the 90’s were given by the approval of some unique laws for the sector (Antoine & Brablec, 2011): Law of National Prizes [Ley de Premios Nacionales]; Law of the Promotion of the Book and Reading [Ley de Fomento del Libro y la Lectura] (N 19.227 of 1993); Law of the Promotion of Chilean Music [Ley de Fomento de la Música Chilena] (N 19.928 of 2004); Law of the Promotion of Audiovisual [Ley de Fomento Audiovisual] (N 19.981 of 2004), and the so called Valdés Law [Ley Valdés] (1992), a norm that anticipates in Chile a system of private sponsorship to the culture and the arts (Antoine, 2008).
With this legislative framework as background its possible to make out that the conditions for a more active participation of the State in the promotion of cultural policies was given since the start of the first decade of the century. Not only was the State legislating for the sector, but also the public expense was increasing year by year. As a matter of fact, the public investment in culture had increased from approximately 13 million dollars in 1991, to 40 million in 1999.
The government of President Eduardo Frei Ruiz Tagle (1994-2000), created a new Presidential Advising Commission in artistic and cultural matters. Under the coordination of Milán Ivelic, critic of the arts and an academic, the instance was constituted in 1997 and culminated his work with the redaction of a report where he sentenced that Chile was “in debt with the culture”.
It was of special consideration for the Ivelic Commission, to recommend once again the creation of a National Council of Culture and the Arts.
Nonetheless the idea of a Council was not only postponed but also substantially modified by the Government of Frei, who preferred in 1998 to patronize a project of Law that left out the figure of Council for the creation of a new National Directorate of Culture (Guerra Asenjo, 2003).
Once again it had to be waited until the next change in Government for the installation of the idea of a Council of the Culture to return. In effect, only with the arrival of power of socialist Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) was an advancement in the opportunity to recast into a single organism (the current National Council of Culture) reached, those that in that time period were competitors of the Ministry of Education (Culture Division) and General Secretariat of the Government (Secretariat of Communications and Culture) and Foreign Relations (Directorate of Cultural Affairs), National Council of Television, Council of the Book and Qualifying Committee of Cultural Donations, only to mention the most relevant institutions.
In July of 2003, Law 19.891 created the National Council of Culture and the Arts (CNCA), and the National Fund of Cultural Development and the Arts, closing the established cycle of the cultural policies in Chile (National Council, 2003).
The idea of an entity of coordination of the cultural organizations of the State was not original, however, of the third of the governments of the Concertación Governing Coalition for Democracy. As we have had the occasion to review, placed in operations of a public organism that coordinates the cultural activity of the State to the highest level, was the old aspiration for the political coalition that governed our country till March of 2010. In fact, an organism of similar characteristics already appeared in the program of the government of Patricio Aylwin (1990-1994), at the start of the 90’s, when the necessity of shaping a coordinated instance that allowed conduction with better coherence and effectiveness of policies and actions of the public sector in the cultural field was a highlight.
Coincidentally, the so called Cultural Councils, an instance of socio-political animation that was structurally impulse from the Division of Culture of the Ministry of Education in the first years of democracy (with Ricardo Lagos as minister), inevitably started the conclusions of the debates pointing towards the necessity that the Chilean state created a Ministry of Culture in order to make front to the necessities of the sector (Antoine, 2002).
Once installed the CNCA was defined as an autonomous public service, decentralized and territorially in-concentrated, passing to represent a peculiar model in the institutionalism of the State, because in its constitution it integrated the participation of some organizations of the civil society in the designation of its authorities, giving origin to a directive that designs, implements and evaluates public policies in the area of Culture, presided by a Minister that executes them.
The administration of the socialist president Michelle Bachelet (2006-2010), was determined in an institutionalizing eagerness, in the sense of continuing the creation of organisms and laws that would give institutional and judicial support to the cultural tasks of the Chilean State, but the problem of in-coordination existent between the recently created CNCA and the DIBAM was not taken care of.
The figures also give account of the attention put by the authorities to the artistic and cultural development. Between 2006 and 2010 the budget was tripled, passing from 22 million Chilean pesos to 63 million Chilean pesos.
The investment allowed the financing of six thousand projects, thanks to the policies generated by the National Council of Culture and the Arts (CNCA). The administration of the institution managed the perfecting and betterment of the processes of marshaling assets and the assignment of the resources.
In the plane of the Cultural Policies, the document “Chile Wants more Culture[Chile Quiere mas Cultura]” that summarized the expectations of the country for that period, proposed the definitions of cultural policy between 2005 and 2010 and was a result of a collective effort headed by the national directive of the National Council of Culture and the Arts (CNCA) and its collegiate members, that compromised the participation of the thirteen Regional Councils and the Consultative Committees. As a result the document consecrated as “cultural policy” of the Chilean State, nine ordinate principals, four strategic lines, ten central objectives and 52 specific measures.
Although the evaluation of cultural policies is not a recurrent activity in Chile (Antoine, 2011b), an external study solicited by the CNCA demonstrated that till March of 2010, of all the determined measures in the document, only 23% presented a level of total compliance and another 23% reached a level of high compliance. Spoken in a more direct manner, only 24 measures reached, after five years of implementation, an observable level of compliance. Of the recommendations made to the CNCA by the Directorate of Budget in 2008, only 18% had been complied with to the indicated date.
When assuming government in March of 2010, the administration of Sebastián Piñera had to define the guidelines of the Cultural Policy for the period of 2011-2016. After a rather sui generis process for the definition of public sectorial policies (Andueza & Maldonado, 2011), the CNCA presented at their opportunity the actual compendium that rules the cultural policies of the country organized around three axes, 14 objectives and 120 specific measures, strategies or purposes (of the Culture and he Arts, 2011).
In May of 2011, and at the front of the traditional account that the President of the Republic pays before the country about the state and the general march of the nation, Sebastián Piñera announced the creation of a single Ministry of Culture and Patrimony, seeking with it to end with the current dispersion and uniting in a single organism of the Council of Culture and the Arts, the Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums, and the Council of National Monuments. Also in May of 2011 and a couple of months later from the occurrence of an earthquake of great magnitude that shook the south-central region of the country and that caused huge damages to the cultural patrimony of various regions, a Parliamentary Commission created to verify the level of the damages and propose legal modifications that would assure its reconstruction, concluded in the necessity of the creation of a Ministry of Culture with a Sub-secretariat of Patrimonial Protection endowed with the exclusive competences to coordinate the implementation of a national policy for the sector.
The parliamentary commission pointed out that the current legislation is anachronistic and does not respond to the current notion of the patrimonial culture. Additionally, they warn about the presence of a process of deterioration and destruction of the historic patrimonial culture due to the absence of a policy of State that favors its conservation. Among the presented proposals the idea of creating a new patrimonial institutionalism in charge of implementing a national policy in this matter with a rank of secretary of State is highlighted.(...)


Versión completa disponible en
Antoine, Cristian. "Participação E Ideologia.
Tensões E Desafios Não Resolvidos Na Gestão Da Cultura No Chile." Politicas Culturais en Revista 5, no. 2 (2012): 83 -96.
Foto. Teatro Municipal de Las Condes, Santiago de Chile, foto del autor

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