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Spain Gives Teens Culture Vouchers on Their 18th Birthdays

Skateboarder outside MACBA in Barcelona

Spanish citizens who turn 18 years of age in 2022 will be given a culture voucher to the value of €400 to spend on anything they like so long as it has a cultural value. The scheme, which is now up and running throughout Spain, was announced by the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, last autumn. He said that 18 year-olds would be able to use their so-called culture pass to buy books, concerts tickets and even trips to the cinema up to the voucher’s maximum value.

Cultural Boost

Sánchez made the announcement while speaking at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Ljubjana in October. At the time, the prime minister claimed that the move would help to improve young people’s access to cultural institutions in the country. However, the measure was not simply introduced to assist with a wider cultural appreciation among Spanish teenagers. According to Sánchez, the idea has also been adopted to try and assist the struggling Spanish cultural sector. Like many countries, the museum, gallery and cultural industries have suffered a great deal during the Covid-19 pandemic with many institutions sustaining severe financial losses.

That said, some see the move as part of a wider series of reforms that the Spanish government is introducing to help younger people in the country. After all, Sánchez’s announcement came just a few days after his government has also announced it planned to launch a new housing scheme for 18 to 35 that would give middle-income earners in that age group a monthly subsidy of €250 they could deduct from their rental payments. Indeed, both the housing announcement and the cultural voucher scheme were put together as a part of the Spanish government’s budget proposals for 2022. Although agreed in principle when Sánchez announced both measures, they still needed to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet. This was in some doubt in some quarters – perhaps accounting for the prime ministerial move that meant he announced the changes prior to them being accepted. Nevertheless, the budget has since been approved for both programmes and is now being rolled out across the country as 17 year-olds start to reach their birthdays.

A Wider Plan

Spain is not alone in making hundreds of euros available to its younger citizens, however. The Spanish government’s decision to back cultural institutions follows similar legislation in other European countries. For example, in both Italy and France there have been schemes for young people to be able to access cultural institutions. The Italians distributed €500 among its young population while the French government set aside €300 bonuses for its youngster to spend however they pleased on culture.

According to a post she made on social media, Ione Belarra said that the so-called culture pass had been the idea of the government’s junior coalition party, Unidas Podemos. Belarra, who serves as the Spanish minister of Social Rights, claimed that her party that was responsible for the scheme. Tweeting to her thousands of followers, Belerra said that the budget that had been agreed upon by cabinet members included a youth culture pass but only after ‘a proposal by Unidas Podemos’ had been accepted by the other coalition parties.

Impulse For Culture

The vice-president leader of Unidas Podemos, Yolanda Diaz, echoed Balarra’s sentiments. Diaz said that supporting the arts as well as the future of young people was an essential condition for her party’s support of the overall budget proposals. “We must act as an impulse for culture,” she said. According to reports in the Spanish press, the country’s ministry for culture and sport has taken charge of the scheme. It is expected that the cost of delivering it over the coming budget period will be in the region of €200 million. Calculated on the basis that about 500,000 young people will become eligible for a pass across the country, this sum could constitute a significant boost for many cultural institutions in Spain so long as what they have to offer is of interest to younger demographics.

About the author – Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.

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