July 27, 2021

Public museums the less autonomous, more opaque | Culture

Public museums the less autonomous, more opaque | Culture

Spanish museums are more transparent in promises than in management. The annual report of the Commitment and Transparency Foundation, which for four years has been monitoring the good government and the clarity of the accounts of the museums before the citizens, discovers that the less autonomous institutions are, the less clear they are when rendering their accounts. Through the mirror, the report that will be published next Monday, reveals that the initiative and motivation to publish the economic management is null when they depend on an external public institution (Ministry of Culture, autonomous community or City Council).

"When their management stops being in the hands of the Administrations and they pass, for example, to a foundation they become more transparent, as it happens in the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao", explained Javier Martín Cavanna yesterday, who together with María Fernández Sabau , has tested a selection that represents 22% of the museums of fine arts and contemporary Spanish art. Those who do not have autonomy, neither administrative nor economic, dilute their responsibilities in the Administrations.

Of the 21 most opaque museums, 12 (57%) are integrated institutions in councils of autonomous communities or municipalities. Among the investigated have not included the 16 state museums (neither are the Prado or Reina Sofia, which have another legal regime) that do not reveal budgets, expenses or income on their websites. It is only known that in 2017 they had 2.9 million visits, 5.4% more than in 2016, the highest figure since there are records.

Another conclusion of this report is that most public museums prefer to hide their accounts. "There has been progress in transparency, but slower than expected. There are signs of improvement, which may be isolated, but there has been a change. The biggest difference between Spanish and British museums is that they are more clear about their policies and economic accounts, "says Martín Cavanna. In the museums of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Denmark there is "a strong citizen culture that promotes accountability".

Only 15 of the analyzed museums are "transparent", that is, 25% of the sample. More: only 32% of those analyzed publish a part of the economic information that it generates. The Prado and the Thyssen, assures the report, they publish for the first time the budget of the current year, although they emphasize that it is not updated. The ICO Museum (Official Credit Institute) He has stopped doing it, he is the only one. "The non-publication of the budget, in the case of public institutions, contravenes Article 8 of Law 19/2015, on Transparency, access to public information and good governance," explain the authors of the report.

The standard requires reporting on budgets and the description of the main items. Information that must be current and understandable. They comply with this the National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Valencian Institute of Modern Art, the National Art of Catalonia, the Fine Arts of Bilbao or the Artium de Vitoria. And they call attention to the publication of the codes of good government that only include Thyssen and the Queen Sofia, "Very complete and comprehensive".

The same obligation

The accounts are not only hidden by the public, but also by the private ones. "Large institutions such as Juan March and La Botín have little will to give accounts and decorative patronages. These private foundations understand that they do not have the same obligation as public foundations. This is an outdated conception, because any institution must be accountable for what it has and how the collection is protected, "says Martín Cavanna. All suspend in the decisive sections in the management of institutions.

The need for a board

"Without a committed board it is difficult to promote transparency", they explain in the report to which EL PAÍS has had access. The board is the governing body, with people chosen to ensure that the organization fulfills the purposes of the mission and Martín Cavanna, one of the authors of the report, underlines the limited capacity of Spanish centers to collect private income. "Lack of initiative, if you check the accounts of what the Prado and Reina Sofía collects, it is scandalously little. Lack of incorporating professionals who have knowledge and skills to raise funds. The Prado has a board of 35 people, but for what? "He adds.


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