Ministry axes hand-picked directors
19 November 2007, Madrid - In a sector where personal contacts are seen as an individual's greatest assets, the message "no more hand-picked appointments" could come as something of a shock.
19 November 2007
Madrid - In a sector where personal contacts are seen as an individual's greatest assets, the message "no more hand-picked appointments" could come as something of a shock.
The Culture Ministry, however, has announced that from now on all of its subordinate institutions will follow a strict code to select their leaders.
"It is quite a novelty. It will no longer be the ministers, but the world of culture itself that selects its own people," said the himself recently appointed culture minister, César Antonio Molina last week.
The Code of Good Practices is part of a broader modernization plan for cultural institutions that has already been approved by the Cabinet.
Until now, however, it was little more than a declaration of goodwill. According to Molina, this code will now rule over all decisions regarding appointments to management positions at state-run cultural institutions.
The code establishes that projects, rather than people, must be selected by expert committees made up of specialists in the given field.
A trial run at Madrid's Reina Sofía Contemporary Art Museum, where the director is currently being selected following code rules, has met with so much enthusiasm that all future vacancies at other state cultural bodies will be filled the same way.
Molina explained that the aim is "to try to shield cultural institutions from abrupt political changes." Next in line after the Reina Sofía is the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM), which needs to find a new director for the National Auditorium, due to open its doors again in late January following extensive refurbishing work.
The ultimate goal is to open up Spanish cultural centers to competent international managers.
"In Spain we are still living in an autarchy, but in a globalized world we should open up to the best managers from abroad, in the same way as some Spaniards are already heading foreign institutions," said the minister.
The code of ethics for the INAEM is being drawn up by a committee of 15 experts. Both the appointees and their projects will undergo an evaluation and if they are found wanting, "the contracts will be canceled," said Juan Carlos Marset, director of INAEM.
"We need to start thinking that maybe artists are not the ideal candidates to run institutions - that maybe we need people with management sense," he added.
"Spain has a democratic deficit when it comes to participation in state-run sectors. We need more open systems like this one."
[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ JESÚS RUIZ MANTILLA 2007]
Subject: Spanish news