An arts council: what for? An historical and bibliographic review of the arm's length principle for current and future international implementation

Publication date:
Marco Antonio Chávez Aguayo

In 2009, the Consell Nacional de la Cultura i de les Arts (National Council for Culture and the Arts, or CoNCA) was founded in Catalonia. Much of the cultural sector, together with a number of political parties had been calling for this arts council to be created since 1999. However, in 2011, the Catalan government, which was made up of a different party to the one that had created the body, changed the law to strip the council of its executive capacities and reduce the number of council members, thereby distancing it from its initial intentions. This organisation − imported from the Anglo-Saxon system, and inspired by the "arm’s length" principle − had not succeeded in surviving the government’s first change of party. It had represented the first organisation of this type not only in Spain but also in the South of Europe, where public administration was organised in a more vertical, centralised manner. For some authors this represented a change of model in the public administration of culture (Bonet, 2011; Villarroya, 2010).