COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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Austria/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.3 Inter-ministerial or intergovernmental co-operation

Examples of inter-ministerial cooperation are on the issues of the creative industries (see chapter 4.2.3), cultural tourism ( chapter 4.2.2), cultural diversity ( chapter 4.2.4), architectural policies ( chapter 4.3) and intercultural dialogue (see chapter 4.2.7).

The study "ZursozialenLage der Künstler und Künstlerinnen in Österreich" (On the social situation of artists in Austria, Schelepa, Wetzel, Wohlfahrt, Mostetschnig, ed L&R Social Research, 2008, commissioned by the former Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture revealed a dramatic level of poverty and came to the conclusion that the already precarious income situation of artists had worsened in comparison to studies from earlier years. Inter-ministerial working groups (IMAGs) have been founded in cooperation with experts from the Federal Ministries of Labour, Family and Youth, Health, Foreign Affairs and Women's Affairs and representatives of the scene, interest-groups (IGs), trade union and social-partnership representatives. These IMAGs have been working on the issues of social security for artistic, cultural and media workers, employment law, unemployment insurance law, social security, women in the arts, support for the arts, copyright and taxation measures and mobility in order to improve the social situation of artists in Austria.

The first result was the establishment of the Social Insurance Authority (SVA) Service Centre for Artists, opened in 2011, where affairs of social security and labour-market services are consolidated. Another improvement is the possibility of registering an idle period in self-employment in order to improve compatibility of general social security with unemployment insurance. Apart from this, a new actors' law was passed as well as a mentoring programme for and by women for the improvement of the social situation of women artists. An artists' guide on mobility questions for foreign creators of culture and events organisers in Austria has been published in 2012 and is available online at http://www.artistmobility.at/home.html.

Despite these measures, the interest groups and the KulturratÖsterreich (Austrian Cultural Council) have not seen any substantial improvement for artists so far. Particular criticism is made of the inadequate insurance for artists in the case of unemployment and the preconditions for claiming benefit from the Artists' Social Security Fund (KSVF): anyone who does not earn the required minimum income from artistic work has no right to support. The recognition by the KSVF of what passes as artistic work is also limited: e.g. no teaching activities, for example if a musician also works as a music teacher.

In the framework of the establishment of a National Cultural Diversity Contact Point in 2010 (see chapter 3.4.3), as called for from the ratifying member states by UNESCO in the course of the implementation of the UNESCO agreement on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural forms of expression, an expert commission was set up composed of representatives of the former Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, the Ministries for Foreign Affairs, Economy, Family Affairs and the department for media affairs in the Federal Chancellery, representatives of the federal provinces, interest groups (IGs), NGOs and independent experts. The task of this expert commission is to facilitate the exchange of information and opinion on the agreement as well as consulting on the focuses and priorities of its implementation, which are to take place through the national contact point. The national contact point takes care of the tasks envisaged in the agreement and in the implementation guidelines. Nationally, these are information and advice, coordination and incorporation of all actors as a "clearing office", awareness raising and publicity work as well as taking care of the ARGE Cultural Diversity. Internationally it functions as the interface with other national contact points as well as between the organs of the agreement and Austrian civil society, makes a contribution to drawing up Austrian positions and prepares the report for UNESCO, which is to be drawn up every four years; the "Austrian Report 2012 on Measures to Protect and Promote the Diversity of Cultural Expressions" has been submitted to UNESCO.

Annual intergovernmental information meetings (Landeskulturreferentenkonferenz) are held between the nine Bundesländer and the federal government, where important cultural projects or events are discussed. On request, informal, inter-ministerial meetings are organised between the various ministries and administrators.

Alongside Vienna and the provincial capitals, practically all cities and towns with more than 10 000 inhabitants are members of the Austrian Association of Cities and Towns; cultural agendas are dealt with by the association's cultural committee. Alongside the Association of Austrian Municipalities, which represents the smaller towns, the Association of Austrian Cities is the discussion partner for the government at national and provincial level.


Chapter published: 02-02-2016

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