April 18, 2021

The new Code of Good Practice aims to limit the mandate of museum directors to 10 years | Culture

The new Code of Good Practice aims to limit the mandate of museum directors to 10 years | Culture

12 years ago the plastic arts sector hit the table to denounce the bad practices that are committed with public money in museums and exhibition centers. Now, that Code of Good Practices ratified by the Ministry of Culture – with the current Vice President Carmen Calvo at the head of the portfolio – initiates a comprehensive reform, which will be debated this Thursday and whose results will be delivered in the coming months to José Guirao, Minister of Culture.

"There has been a lack of political commitment to assume the code and apply it," explains Jorge Díaz, secretary of the Institute of Contemporary Art (IAC). There have been many appointments since 2007 and has it been met? The president of the IAC, Isabel Durán, wants to be positive and believes that "with good intentions, new practices are also generated." "The renovation of the Prado and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum are negative examples. But now they are evident when they fail, "he adds.

The association of museum directors does not agree with the limitation of ten years in charge of the charge

Díaz explains to EL PAÍS that in the new document they want to limit the management contracts. "They should be more restricted," he says. This point would prevent charges of 15 years, for example, how Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Reina Sofia Museum, until 2023. "We want there to be a maximum of renewal, a limitation of years to the front, no more than 10 years. Although at this point there is no unanimity in the sectoral table, "he says. This aspect is being debated in the center of the table and will be decided this Thursday between the associations that have come together to make the sector grow in political influence. The group of museum directors does not accept this limitation. In favor of the restriction are the consortium of gallerists, the union of artists, the federation of cultural managers, the Institute of Contemporary Art (IAC), as well as Women of Visual Arts (MAV).

More woman

Another big change with respect to the 2007 document is the irruption of women as a center of action and protection. Curiously, the previous code was approved the same year as the Equality Act, but the arts forgot about them. Now settle the debt. "In the drafting of the document will avoid using the male gender as representative of the whole," can be read in the draft, which makes mention of the incorporation of gender equality in the structures of institutions, "essential for good practices."

For María José Magaña, president of the association of Women in the Visual Arts (MAV), it is a pending issue to be resolved so that in the boards, juries, programming and in the purchase of works, equality is an insurmountable requirement. He hopes to finalize the final document with a system of quotas like the one that works in the aid to the production of films. In this way, museums with public aid should attend the purchase of women artists and not prioritize men artists exclusively.

MAV wants that museums with public aid have quotas for the purchase of works of women artists

More pressure

Both Isabel Durán and Jorge Díaz, from the IAC, point out that in these twelve years progress has been made in the pressure to enforce a document that is not binding and that lacked specifying aspects such as transparency. They demand clear accounts in the selection processes of any position. In this sense, they openly question the participation in the designs of the center of those companies to which the doors are opened, with the hope that they will contribute a quantity of money, which they do not complete. "We want it to be a real and assessable consideration, that we can know it. If someone contributes 150,000 euros on a budget of 50 million euros, you have to think what charge is offered. The economic employers must comply with the reason for their invitation, "says Díaz.

In the configuration and mission of the board there seems to be unanimity: there is an urgent need to increase experts in them, in addition to guaranteeing equality between men and women. So it is proposed that there be 30% of representatives of the administration, 50% of experts or scientists and 20% of civil society "who have made a significant contribution to the museum". In the previous Code it was not detailed how to protect the artist and now it is a priority, especially after the approval of the Statute of the Artist.

More complaints

How can a Code of Good Practice be binding? "It is impossible, but it has become a tool that nobody discusses anymore. We need more transparency in museums to control democratic processes ", says Durán. The phase of the complaint needs to be strengthened much more, but for this they need to pay lawyers "so that the complaints reach the courts and do not remain in the sun." They say they need money to be more effective, not to generate more bureaucracy. "The plastic arts need to be professionalized, like the cinema", adds the president of the IAC.

They claim that the artistic direction of the rooms dependent on public administrations should be the responsibility of a person of professional scope, "in no case can be totally or partially outsourced the management of any museum, center or publicly owned room to the private sector" . This is a direct reference to the CAC of Malaga, which they describe as "the perfect example of bad practices in a museum".


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