Cultural governance in Germany

Objetivos clave de la medida:

The protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions constitutes the foundation of the cultural policies of the Federal Government, Länder and municipalities and local governments. Germany was among the initiators of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, so that these principles would also take root internationally. Through a constitutionally-enshrined cultural federalism, the Länder are primarily responsible for cultural affairs. Along with the municipalities and local governments, they are responsible for supporting the arts and culture with constitutional authority (cultural sovereignty). The Federal Government has selected areas of competence stipulated by the Grundgesetz (the Basic Law, Germany’s constitution) or which arise from its obligation to represent the state as a whole. In addition, within the framework of its legislative powers, the Federal Government seeks to ensure that all legislation takes the impact on culture and cultural expressions into account (Kulturverträglichkeit). Federal structures developed over time promote and support understanding for the concept of the diversity of cultural expressions and the participation of civil society actors at all levels.

Característica principal de la medida:


Cultural promotion is acknowledged both as public support as well as an investment in the future. The overarching cultural policy goal is thereby to facilitate access to the arts and culture for all citizens. Underrepresented target groups and international cultural exchange are given special attention. The entire spectrum of cultural expressions, from their creation to their reception, is promoted financially and non-financially. Cultural promotion is funded from the corresponding budgets of the Federal Government, Länder and municipalities and local governments. Additional funding bodies include public and private foundations. Particularly noteworthy are the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) and the Cultural Foundation of the Länder (Kulturstiftung der Länder). The German Federal Cultural Foundation, based in Halle/Salle, was founded in 2002. It promotes innovative contemporary arts and cultural projects and programmes that also operate on an international level. Based on a competitive application process, it also supports projects from all artistic disciplines. On application, the Foundation also provides financial and administrative support for several cultural promotion funds – the Art Fund Foundation (Stiftung Kunstfonds), the Fund for Performing Arts (Fonds Darstellende Künste), the German Literature Fund (Deutscher Literaturfonds), the German Translators Fund (Deutscher Übersetzerfonds) and the Socio-cultural Fund (Fonds Soziokultur) as well as cultural beacons (Kulturelle Leuchttürme) such as documenta Kassel, the annual Theatre Convention (Theatertreffen), the triennial Dance Congress and the Donaueschinger Festival for Contemporary Music. The Cultural Foundation of the Länder, founded in 1988, helps German museums, libraries and archives to acquire significant works of art and cultural goods. Besides its financial contribution to important acquisitions, the Foundation provides comprehensive expert advice and helps secure experts and funders. Since its founding, the Länder have invested more than EUR 150 million (USD 200 million) in the acquisition of outstanding works representing German cultural heritage through the Foundation. In addition, the Foundation is engaged in cultural policy issues, launching the cultural education initiative “Children to the Olympus” in 2004. This education initiative promotes ideas on cooperation among children, adolescents and culture, encourages new concepts for the collaboration between culture and schools and supports cultural education networks. Applications for project grants and fellowships are evaluated by independent committees and juries with a balanced and diverse composition.

Legal framework

The protection of culture enjoys constitutional status within the Länder. The German Basic Law protects artistic freedom. In addition, there are many laws at Federal and Länder level that protect culture and the free development of the arts (e.g. the monuments and historical buildings acts, the archive acts, the Act on the Return of Cultural Objects, the Act to Prevent the Exodus of German Cultural Property, the Copyright Act, the Act on the German National Library, the Artists’ Social Insurance Act, the Act on Fixed Retail Prices for Books, public broadcasting and media acts at Länder level, acts on the promotion of children and young people with an explicit reference to cultural education). Furthermore, many other laws touch on culture or affect the free development of the arts, such as, for example, tax relief for cultural products and services, charities, donations and foundations. At federal level, a cultural impact assessment (Kulturverträglichkeitsprüfung) is carried out for all draft legislation with a bearing on culture or media policy in order to examine the impact on culture and cultural expressions.


In addition to providing an adequate legal framework for the arts, culture and media, a range of instruments promote the full spectrum of cultural expressions, from artistic creation and dissemination to cultural participation and awareness-raising. In 2007, public expenditure on culture and the arts reached around 8.5 billion (USD 12.5 billion), which represents 1.67% of total public spending. Of this, 44.4% was apportioned by the municipalities and local governments, 43% by the Länder and 12.6% by the Federal Government. Lay culture and customs also receive support through public financing.

The intercultural opening of cultural institutions

In 2011, the Länder, through the Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz), adopted the guidelines on “Intercultural Culture Work”. These recommend that when allocating resources, those responsible for cultural policy at Länder and municipal level, local governments and in cultural institutions should take into account the actual socio-economic status of the areas in which cultural institutions are based, responding to the demographic change and heterogeneity of their communities while also facilitating an exchange with civil society-based networks. Good examples of the intercultural opening of cultural institutions are the cultural promotion policies in North Rhine- Westphalia and Berlin: Traditional cultural establishments in North Rhine-Westphalia are receiving support from 2009 to 2013 for their intercultural focus. Furthermore, Landsponsored productions and exhibitions at well-known institutions were assisted by professionals to obtain a patron-oriented intercultural profile. Additionally, since 2008, the Land-initiated and financed agency “” has provided impulses for people with immigrant backgrounds to get more involved in cultural life. In Berlin, the cross-cutting goal of fostering the intercultural opening of cultural institutions has also been pursued, for example through the event series “Be Berlin, Be Diverse”.

Planning cultural environments – new developments

In 2009, the German Association of Cities (Deutscher Städtetag) recommended that the municipalities and local governments give special attention to local cultural infrastructure and thereby also take into account the provisions of the UNESCO Convention. Examples of the development of cultural environments include the cultural environment act (Kulturraumgesetz) in Saxony, the draft act on the promotion and development of culture, art and cultural education in North Rhine-Westphalia and the cultural convention (Kulturkonvent) in Saxony-Anhalt, as well as at municipal the local government level, the initiative “Future Concept: Culture” of Peine district in Lower Saxony.