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The Arts Report (on state expenditure for the arts and cultural activities) and the Culture Report (on state expenditure for the main cultural institutions) will be combined in 2016.

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Austria/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.2 Overall description of the system

Even though public responsibility is clearly defined in the federal system for some specific cultural fields, public bodies (at any level of government) may take an active role in supporting all arts and cultural activities. In this case, the relations between the various governmental bodies are shaped by informal co-operation as much as by competition (see also chapter 3.3).

Cultural Administration of the Federal Republic

The basis for the administrative structure in the field of culture is the Federal Ministry Act. Since 2014, after alternating ministerial responsibilities in recent decades, arts, culture and cultural heritage were integrated into the Federal Chancellery. The Artsand Culture Division II is under the responsibility of the Minister for Arts and Culture, Constitution and Media. 

The legal basis of arts promotion at federal level is the FederalArts Promotion Act, adopted in 1988, amended in 1997 and 2000 (see chapter 5). Decisions on subsidies for the arts are made upon the (non-binding) recommendations of advisory boards and juries, consisting of experts from the various branches of the arts; they give advice to the departments of art and culture of the Federal Chancellery.There are advisory boards for visual arts, architecture & design, photography, video & media arts, performing arts, music, film, literature, translation, publishing affairs, literature for young people, interdisciplinary art projects and cultural initiatives.

There are expert juries for awarding various prizes, grants and subsidies.


  • Grand Austrian State Prize (Großer Österreichischen Staatspreis);
  • Austrian State Award (ÖsterreichischerStaatspreis) in the categories: Architecture (awarded biennially by the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, BMWFW), Artistic Photography, European Literature, Cultural Journalism, Literary Criticism, Literary Translation, Children's and Youth Literature, Children's Lyrics and Austria's most beautiful books (all of them awarded by the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery); Adolf-Loos State Prize for Design and Oskar-Kokoschka State Prize for Visual Arts (both awarded by BMWFW);
  • Austrian Art Awards (ÖsterreichischerKunstpreis) in the categories: Visual Arts, Photography, Video and Media Arts, Music, Film, Literature, Children's and Youth Literature und "current topics of the year" (AktuelleJahresthemen);
  • Outstanding Artist Awards in the categories: Visual Arts, Photography, Video and Media Arts, Cartoon and Comics, Experimental Trends in Architecture, Experimental Design, Performing Arts, Music, Film, Literature, Children's and Youth Literature and "current topics of the year" (AktuelleJahresthemen);
  • the biennial Architecture Award "The best house" ("Das besteHaus"); and
  • different awards for Visual Arts (Birgit-Jürgenssen-Preis, Modepreis), for Literature and Language (Erich Fried Award, ManèsSperber Award, Ernst Jandl Award) etc.

Scholarship Juries

  • artist-in-residence scholarships for visual arts and photography;
  • scholarships for dance, (Tanzstipendium);
  • scholarships for dramatists / playwrights; and
  • state scholarships for several arts divisions.

The Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery publishes annual reports, the Arts Report (Kunstbericht) and the Culture Report (Kulturbericht). The annual Arts Report is stipulated in the Federal Arts Promotion Act and provides information on state expenditure for the arts and cultural activities. The presentation of the support payments also follows the "LIKUS system" (Länder-Initiative Kultur-Statistik, see chapter 6), which was set up in 1996 to achieve as much transparency and comparability as possible – especially between the expenditures of the Bundesländer and those of the federal level. This system organises the data by sector (e.g. literature; film and photography etc.), rather than by the administrative departments. The annual Culture Report provides information on state expenditure for the main cultural institutions (the Federal Theatres, the Federal Museums, the National Library), heritage protection, foundations (e.g. the Leopold Foundation), cultural education and cooperation between cultural institutions and schools, provenance and restitution and EU and international cultural affairs. Both reports will be compiled in one Arts and Culture Report from 2016.

International cultural policies and cooperation activities are described in the annual Austrian Foreign Policy Yearbook, published by the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. The current tasks, objectives and focuses for 2015 to 2018 are formulated in the "International Culture Concept". 

Cultural Administration of the Federal Provinces (Bundesländer) and Local Authorities

TheBundesländerare active in promoting culture in all relevant fields, based on elements of private law. All Bundesländer governments have at least one department that concerns itself with cultural affairs. A member of the government generally assumes the political responsibility for this department. Occasionally, some cultural competence is reserved for the governor. The legal basis of the promotion of arts and culture are the respective Cultural Promotion Acts (except Vienna), which stipulate the establishment of advisory boards and the publication of a report on the expenditure on the arts and culture.  Subsidy reports are available for all the Bundesländer, except Upper Austria, which publishes a chapter "Art and Kultus" in the general annual promotion report of the country.

Laws on the Promotion of Culture have also been adopted by the federal Bundesländer, with the exception of Vienna (see chapter 3.1); Upper Austria, for example, prepared a new cultural strategy in 2009 and defined its cultural-policy funding priorities. A revision of the 1979 Cultural Promotion Act in Tyrol was agreed in 2010; it is based on an up-do-date and extended concept of culture and it anchors the new cultural trends and developments in law. The province of Tyrol thereby commits itself to the creation of favourable conditions for cultural projects.

The capitals of the Bundesländer, as well as small rural municipalities, allocate considerable resources to cultural promotion, aimed at urban institutions, libraries and adult education facilities, as well as in most cases for the local museums. There has been a trend towards more transparency in municipal cultural support in the last years, for example through cultural development strategies, e.g. the "New Culture Development Plan of the City of Linz" (2013); in 2013, Salzburg also started updating the culture concept from 2001. Reports on support for culture as well as the establishment of advisory are common practices in almost all major cities.

Chapter published: 02-02-2016

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