The free access policy is a people's livelihood policy that promotes the protection of citizens cultural rights and interests and improvement of social and cultural welfare in the form of state financial subsidies for public cultural venues. In 2011, the public libraries, art galleries, and cultural centers (stations) began to fully implement the free access policy. With the continuous promotion of policies, free access has become a crucial measure in the construction of China's public cultural service system.
At present, academic research on the free access policy is mainly focused on the issue of funding guarantees. They insist that lack of funding guarantees and incomplete mechanisms are two major problems in funding guarantees, and also propose to increase fiscal protection and actively explore suggestions of diversifying expenditure sources system such as government subsidies, social sponsorships, and individual donations and so on. These suggestions are of great value in improving and optimizing the free access funding guarantee mechanism. But the existing research also have some deficiencies like lack of scientific theoretical support and some countermeasures lack of practical operability. And the research mainly focuses on the initial stage of policy implementation. With the continuous policy implementation, relevant research has become less and less.This paper believes that as an ongoing public policy, we must utilize policy process theory to review and rethink the policy periodically, and propose specific and operational recommendations.
This article takes public libraries as an example,and uses official data published by the Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry of Culture, as well as data from Wuhan University's “Culture Frontline” in July August 2016 with 178 municipal, county level public libraries in 31 provinces across the country, and the ongoing observation of 10 Wuhan University National Public Cultural Policy Research and Experimental Bases. The paper applies the qualitative and quantitative research methods under the framework of cultural rights theory and policy process theory to review and reflect the free access policy.
The results indicate that more than 3 100 public libraries in the country have all achieved free accessing and played an important role in ensuring the basic cultural rights and interests of citizens. However,it also revealed some problems such as the constant amount of financial subsidies cannot meet the growth of cultural supply and service after free accessing up, the fund sharing mechanism has not been fully implemented, the subsidy standards designed according to administrative levels are hard to take care of the needs of public libraries of different sizes and the lack of supervision and assessment mechanisms.The reasons for these problems and the lack of timely policy adjustments are related to the unclear division of expenditure responsibilities between the central government and the local authority, and the policy costs are higher than the policy benefits. At last, this paper proposes to improve the classification of funding standards, establish and improve the dynamic adjustment mechanism for funding guarantees, innovate the financial security methods,establish performance evaluation systems and other policy recommendations.
Because it is hard to get the financial data of public libraries completely, there are certain limitations in the analysis of the financial subsidies. However, this article draws lessons from the policy process theory and uses a large amount of empirical survey data to make up the deficiency of scientific theories and data support. As a comprehensive systematic evaluation of the free access policy and corresponding countermeasures, this research has important practical significance for the promotion and optimization of this policy. 2 tabs. 27 refs.