From the governmental point of view, at the triumph of the Revolution, the cultural functions were carried out by the Directorate of Culture of the Ministry of Education, and the development of cultural management fell on the staff of private institutions and voluntary associations.
With the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959, Cuban society experienced deep changes in all its structures. At that time, emblematic cultural institutions for the country's culture were created, such as the Cuban Institute of Art and Film Industry (ICAIC), founded just 83 days after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, which showed the new government's concern for artistic culture; Casa de las Americas, in April 1959, to develop and expand socio-cultural relations with the brother nations of America.
The National Council of Culture was established in 1961 as the first independent government institution for the development of the country's cultural policy.
A wide process of democratization of culture took place and important moments were highlighted since 1961 with the successful and transcendental Literacy Campaign, which made almost a million people literate, and the creation of the National Printing House, which started the publication of the work of the great masters of universal literature and for that purpose started with the massive print run of 100,000 copies in four volumes of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, the first Cuban edition of this title.
The National School of Art was also inaugurated in 1962, marking the beginning of the extraordinary expansion of artistic education, as one of the most transcendental and beautiful works of the Cuban Revolution expressed in the development and prestige achieved by art in Cuba. Another important institution created during these years, specifically in 1967, was the Cuban Book Institute, responsible for the policy for the development and promotion of books and literature.
These constitute the antecedents of the emergence of the Ministry of Culture, which was created as part of the process of institutionalization of the offices of the Central Administration of the Cuban State, which took place in 1976.
Creation of MINCULT
Based on the Thesis of Artistic and Literary Culture in 1975 Party Congress, the claim was affirmed that opened the doors to the idea of founding this Ministry, which is created within the process of institutionalization of the Central State Administration Offices of the Republic of Cuba, with the task of directing, guiding, supervising, controlling and executing, within the scope of their competence, the application of the cultural policy of the State and the Cuban Government, as well as guaranteeing the defense, preservation and enrichment of the cultural heritage of the nation.
Act No. 1323, November 30, 1976 on the Organization of the Central State Administration established the Ministry of Culture, which was subsequently repealed by Decree-Laws No. 67 and No. 147, up to No. 272, which is currently valid.
According to Agreement 4024 of the Council of Ministers dated May 11, 2001, the following objective and specific functions and regulations were provisionally approved until the new legislation is adopted.
- To direct, guide, promote and supervise and implement the country's cultural policy, in close and systematic connection with the intellectual and artistic movement.
- To encourage, monitor and evaluate the consistent implementation of the policy of disseminating and promoting art and literature.
- Directing, supervising and evaluating the policy of studying, preserving and restoring the nation's cultural heritage.
- Promote a broad socio-cultural movement in the country for the development of a comprehensive general culture among our people.
- Promote the formation of aesthetic values in society, with emphasis on children, adolescents and youth; contributing to the creation of social ethics.
- To direct and supervise the policy and processes of artistic formation, that of cultural promoters and the preparation of art instructors.
- Directing and supervising the policy of national and international promotion of art and culture and cultural manifestations coming from abroad.
- Directing, controlling and implementing the policy on production and marketing of cultural goods and services in the country.
- To direct and control the policy related to the author right.
The agreement also approved eleven directorates and three departments that make up the central level of the agency, with the position of first deputy minister and four deputy ministers, with a staff of 183 workers, 23 of them in leading positions. Similarly, the Provincial and Municipal Directorates of Culture were established, which are responsible for the application of cultural policy to these offices. A stage of development was opened that generated the creation of a broad institutional network in the country, integrating the various channels through which the spiritual and intellectual life of the nation flowed, which, during more than 15 years of the revolutionary process, had been dealing with the existing professional and popular modalities of artistic, literary and technological expression and reproduction.
It is worth remembering that the fundamental principles governing the cultural life of the country had been announced as early as 1961, when in the National Cuban Library "José Martí", Fidel Castro spoke to the intellectuals and his words became the basis of the cultural policy of the Revolution.
In order to achieve its objectives, it was essential to create strong cultural institutions, with their own authority and personality, in order to give them all the hierarchy and authority to function.
By Agreement No. 2322, January 23, 1989 of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, the creation of the remaining Institutes and Councils was authorized (it should be recalled that three of them already existed); those that remained organized on April 1,1989 as the basic structure of the institutional system of culture. These would be: the Music Institute (ICM) and the already founded Cuban Institute of Art and Film Industry (ICAIC) and Cuban Book Institute (ICL); the National Council of Plastic Arts (CNAP) and the National Council of Performing Arts (CNAE), the National Heritage Council (CNAP) and the already mentioned National Council of Culture Houses (CNCC).
To assume the direction of the new Ministry, a person with sufficient intellectual, moral and political authority was needed, and the person chosen by the direction of the Revolution was Dr. Armando Hart Dávalos.
The decision had a remarkable significance, and was well perceived in the world of culture, as it was a representative figure of the Cuban Revolution and with high prestige. Moreover, he arrived with an authority not only personal, but also of his work and life, capable of facing and liquidating the fissures that limited and impeded the cultural work in the country, opening a new path that also relied to some extent on that cultural tradition of the Cuban people.
From the first moment, Hart and his main collaborators were convinced that it was necessary to preserve the value of the history of our culture, to qualitatively raise what came from the contributions born in the 60s, and to transform with height what had been twisted in the 70s, as a result of rigid guiding extremisms that confused cultural expressions with political ideology and advertising.
The mission was to forge a climate of trust for artistic and literary creation, of credibility and security; to approach and convince artists and intellectuals until they were placed in the center of society, as well as to create a prepared audience and put them in contact with the Cuban artistic community.
The weapon used by the Minister to gain the trust of artists and intellectuals was to lead with consensus. He built an office based on the permanent presence of artists and intellectuals in the discussion and projection of decisive issues of cultural policy.
This is how he surrounded himself with people he trusted, and admired for their artistic and intellectual merits; figures such as Julio García Espinosa, Antonio Núñez Jiménez, María Luis Bravo, Mirtha Aguirre, Graziella Pogolotti, Roberto Fernández Retamar, without forgetting to mention Graciela Rodríguez (Chela), who always had as her motto the usefulness of plural thought; For this reason, they considered it essential to form Advisory Councils that would feed their own definitions and decisions, as well as those of the rest of the leaders and officials, who in a demanding and flexible manner knew how to articulate themselves with the company of creators.
Witnesses of the time agree that, at that time, no one knew they were doing something that was not only for the moment, but for years to come. They managed to prepare buildings for the cultural institutions, the municipal museums and the art galleries were created. It was the moment and not another to put Culture in its rightful place.
After the Ministry was established, the first law to be passed was the Heritage Law in 1977, to protect and safeguard the memory of the Cuban nation; the second was the Monuments Law.
As the years went by, part of the artistic development was interrupted by the arrival of the special period. There was little money, need for resources, but free art education was maintained in the country and the operation of the Houses of Culture.
As in other spheres of society, in Culture there was a sudden deterioration of cultural institutions. It was then that a business system was created to pay for the nation's cultural processes that were becoming complex both at home and abroad. Likewise, the foundations became a weapon of Socialism and the Revolution: the Alejo Carpentier Foundation, the New Latin American Cinema Foundation, the Nature and Man Foundation and the Caguayo Foundation, among others, were created.
Without a doubt, the Ministry of Culture is not only the result of a government decision. Rather, it was born as the logical outcome of an evolution in the practice and design of the corresponding sectorial management. It did not emerge as a bureaucratic organism, but rather as a necessity to apply the cultural policy of the Revolution, which in addition to complying with guidelines, works to satisfy the artists and to contribute to the elevation of the integral general culture of our people.