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Mother of three children, with a Law degree and a specialization in Direction and Management of Associations and Foundations as well as social and solidarity economy and cooperatives, Maite Esteve is the director of the Catalunya Cultura Foundation and Patron of the Friends of the MNAC Foundation. She has worked her entire professional career in different foundations leading projects related to the field of entrepreneurship, education, and the social economy. One of the main lines of work of the Catalunya Cultura Foundation revolves around the Patronage Law and this is what we talked to her about.
Montse Badia – You run a foundation whose mission is “to promote a new framework for collaboration between the private sector, civil society, and culture, with the aim of promoting the creation of new financing instruments that allow the development and maintenance of projects and activities of a cultural nature.” You often insist on the fact that culture is not an expense but rather an investment in talent and creativity, an economic and social motor. Do you think this message is being accepted or is there still a long way to go?
Maite Esteve – The pandemic has been key to realizing that culture, relating to each other and staying connected and happy, is a vital need that we have as human beings. During the pandemic, health workers have taken care of our health, but culture has taken care of our souls. Even so, this message is still very much needed to make society aware of its power as a social, economic, regional, and intellectual transformer. Unlike Anglo-Saxon or North European countries where culture is considered, without a doubt, an essential good, in countries such as Spain this isn´t so.
However, more and more people and more companies are assimilating this message. The companies that form part of our board of trustees and patronage council, for example, are very clear about this. We work with the conviction that a cultured country is a stronger, more supportive, and socially more advanced and wealthier country. All the companies and institutions that are part of our Foundation work towards the goal of giving culture the value it deserves by helping to make cultural initiatives more solid, by promoting the view of the business world towards the cultural world, and by promoting legislative changes that encourage private investment in culture.
MB – One of the main activities of the Foundation is to promote a patronage law. What law do we have and what do we want to achieve? How does the Foundation work to achieve this goal?
ME – Since its creation, one of the FCC’s lines of work is to promote and foster a new legal and fiscal framework for patronage, both in Catalonia and in Spain, that favors citizen and business commitment to culture. It is essential that both state and regional governments allocate a public budget to culture and to social, environmental, and research sectors, in addition to the support that the private sector gives.
We understand patronage and philanthropy as a tool for creating capital and social wealth, and as a tool that empowers citizens, allowing them to actively participate in community initiatives that benefit society in general. A society and a citizenry committed to their country’s culture is a more civilized, more socially cohesive and more democratic society.
We want to bring together all those interested in promoting patronage. That is why we have created and lead the Platform for Patronage, which creates consensus and involvement of the cultural, social, and research sectors in the development of a tax incentives law for the participation of civil society in activities of public interest. Currently, there are more than 100 entities that share the same vision and strategy regarding the promotion of patronage. The legal/fiscal framework that governs this matter in Spain is Law 49/2002, better known as the Patronage Law, but it has become obsolete due to the ways in which collaborations between corporations and non-profit entities, such as foundations or associations, are carried out. The social and technological changes of the last 20 years have made specific aspects of the current legislation become obstacles to establishing agreements, conventions, or alliances, and are a drag on the development and increase of business and private patronage.
In 2016, the FCC prepared a proposal for a Patronage Law that we presented to established entities and institutions (foundations, federations, associations) of the sectors most directly affected (cultural, social, environmental and research sectors), seeking a consensus and support to promote the proposal. Over the last few years, the FCC has done advocacy work with all parliamentary groups, both in the Congress of Deputies and in the Parliament of Catalonia, to present the proposal in order to make legislative changes. We are currently joining forces with other institutions throughout the state and from all affected areas to promote a proposal that we hope will be published in the BOE.
MB – There are other countries that have adopted this legal form. What are your reference models?
ME – Without a doubt, the legislation that governs this aspect in France, known as the Aillagon Law, has been our reference from the beginning. The FCC is based on the French model which historically has had great government involvement in the field of culture. Since the promotion of cultural patronage by Jean Jacques Aillagon during his tenure as Minister of Culture and Communication allowed the private sector to give a boost to patronage this has created a reference model to follow for both Spain and Catalonia, far from the Anglo-Saxon philanthropy model of the USA and UK with which we cannot identify as much. In 2003, the French senate approved the Loi du Mécénat and initiated a series of public policies to promote cultural and social patronage. The key to success for the development of philanthropy and patronage, beyond tax deduction for donations from companies and individuals, was undoubtedly the creation of a Mission du Mécénat, an institution in charge of promoting and disseminating information about the patronage tax system which interacts with other ministries, and advises public institutions, project leaders, companies, and individuals on patronage matters. This is an institution that promotes patronage and/or cultural sponsorship, and that of its actors, explaining the advantages of commitment to companies and citizens and putting them in contact with the entities and community projects in their area. In this way, motivation is based on both raising awareness with the community as well as by making the contribution and tax benefit visible, being able to reach all municipalities throughout the region, and by making companies and citizens co-responsible with their environment and helping them get involved.
MB –The patronage law contemplates not only culture but also social work and research. Do you think it is important that culture stops being perceived as something autonomous and that it is more interconnected with other areas, such social, scientific, and educational areas?
ME – Absolutely. And this is how it is. Culture, in any of its forms, always has an impact on or is fed by the areas you mention. It is cross-sectional and shares many aspects and ways of working with science, research, and education and, without a doubt, always creates an improvement in people’s quality of life. In fact, the Platform for Patronage has the support not just of the cultural sector but also the research and social sectors, among others. For the last four years we have worked hard to make the current legal framework adapt to the demands for participation of the different sectors of civil society, such as education, research, culture, and the social sector. We are very aware of this interconnection and we cannot imagine it otherwise.
MB –What is the Company Seal of Commitment to Culture and to what extent can it help make companies’ agendas more responsible towards culture?
ME – The Company Seal of Commitment to Culture is a distinction that was created in collaboration with the School of Social Responsibility and Sustainability in the University of Girona with the aim of recognizing companies that support culture. The strategic alliance between culture and business is a guarantee of the sustainability of the culture world. It is a pioneering seal in the sector that offers companies the possibility of being part of an initiative to promote Corporate Cultural Responsibility (RCC) within the company’s CSR in favor of culture, and that endorses its leadership, excellence and commitment.
Companies can support culture in many ways. The easiest is by supporting it directly, but also by participating as much as possible in local cultural actions according to the capacity and volume of their organization. By including a part of RCC to the CSR of their company, where the support for culture is taken into account as a channel and means of social cohesion and improvement of the common good. By promoting good practices and the understanding and appreciation of culture within the same company. And by bringing together and inviting people from the culture world to participate in the company, both in terms of employment and through cultural actions, or by giving away and/or offering cultural events to workers.
MB – Another of your programs is IMPULSA CULTURA, in which you contribute tools and training so that cultural projects can become economically sustainable. I think this program allows you to have a privileged vision of the panorama of cultural creation in Catalonia, of the kind of projects, objectives, disciplines (or hybridizations between disciplines) that exist. What most stands out within the types of projects that you work with? What are the concerns and objectives?
ME – The IMPULSA CULTURA Program (PIC) which trains, supports, and accelerates cultural projects that work to improve their own sustainability is very important for the Foundation. Through PIC we intend to create a strong network of cultural projects that contribute wealth and progress to the country. Dozens of cultural projects pass through the Foundation every year that do an excellent job within the region. These projects all have social impact, full of opportunities and initiatives, but are weighed down by the management and organization of the project itself, defining its value, audiences, organization, and its patronage dossier. The Foundation helps them use tools better known in the world of business organization that may not be so familiar to them but which are absolutely necessary to present the project to a future patron or possible collaborator and/or investor.
It is necessary to highlight the quality of all the projects in terms of cultural aspects, creativity, and innovation, but above all the resilience of those who promote them, those who struggle to survive in the face of adversity, especially in the last two years when circumstances have become so difficult for the culture world. All the projects that have passed through the Foundation make up the IMPULSA Community, almost 200 projects from all over Catalonia with high economic, social, and regional transformational power. Coming together and interacting within a network that the Foundation supports allows them to find forms of collaboration and work that until then had not even been considered. This is one of the lines of action that the Foundation is most proud of, seeing how projects help each other, collaborate, and grow, expanding their chances of success.
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