Target standards for public libraries have been developed and the libraries' subsidy more than tripled.
A pilot project provided funds for 17 innovative cultural projects in 13 locations in Austrian cultural forums abroad.
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Austria/ 4. Current issues in cultural policy development and debate
4.1 Main cultural policy issues and priorities
The points of emphasis in the art and culture support for the current legislative period are outlined in the government programme for the years 2008-2013. In 2008 the budget for art and culture was EUR 388 million, while in 2009/2010 it was increased by a total of EUR 50 million to EUR 438 million. In comparison to other countries, the budget for art and culture in Austria has been maintained at this level despite the difficult economic situation.
The key aspects and the measures taken so far are characterised as follows:
- support for the new generation and contemporary art: support for young contemporary art through the extension of scholarship programmes in all branches; strengthened measures to raise the international profile of Austrian artists; the budget was raised from EUR 4.5 million to EUR 6 million and 90 Start Scholarships were awarded, which are intended to help young artists in their work and to help them become more involved in the Austrian and international arts scene (62% of these were women).
- improvement of working conditions in the cultural field: continuation of the reform of the social security insurance for artists; since 2011, the new Artists' Social Security Structural Act (KSV-SG) has entered into force, which provides for the establishment of a service centre for artists as the central contact point for self-employed and directly employed artist under the aegis of the Austrian Social Insurance Authority for Business (SVA). A further amendment concerns the possibility of registering an idle period of self-employed activity of artists in order to be able to apply for unemployment benefits if necessary.
- cultural diversity: extension and support of regional art and cultural initiatives and inter-cultural projects;
- support for the Austrian film industry: doubling of the budget for innovative films from EUR 1 million to EUR 2 million, an increase in the funding of the Austrian Film Institute (ÖFI) from EUR 9.6 million (2006) to EUR 16.57 million and 2012 to the current EUR 20 million;
- raising the basic grant to the federal museums and the Austrian National Library by EUR 6 million in 2008 and by a further EUR 8.5 million in 2009;
- cultural participation: fostering of arts and culture in schools; promotion of participation in and access to art and culture through free admission to the federal museums for young people up to the age of 19;
- raising the basic grant to federal theatres by EUR 5 million in 2008 and by a further EUR 3.5 million in 2009;
- measures promoting the qualitative building culture in all fields of public life and fostering the promotion of contemporary architecture;
- The Art Restitution Act was amended in 2009. Previously only "art objects" from the Austrian federal museums and collections were affected. The definition was extended to include "other moveable cultural goods" and "other immediate federal property". The period was extended to the period between 1933 and 1945. As a result, uncertainties can be legally clarified. Since 2009, the Art Restitution Commission made recommendations in 41 cases and the minister complied with all of them;
- implementation of a new comprehensive concept for public libraries; a "working group on public libraries" established by the Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture 2009/10 drew up a strategy that promotes the nationwide implementation of new support guidelines. Target standards for public libraries were developed and the libraries' subsidy was more than tripled, to EUR 500 000, and an Association of Austrian Libraries (BVÖ) has been established as the central service point for public libraries. A public-library-map, first developed in 2013, illustrates the coverage rate of public libraries in Austria and shows the current achievement of the objectives.
- gender budgeting; since January 2009, the Constitutional Law has obliged the government, the provinces and the municipalities "to strive for the actual equality of women and men in budgeting". Since 2007, the Arts Report has assessed financial payments on gender-related criteria and given a gender-specific description of commissions and juries active in the arts section.
- protection of historic buildings and monuments and of the cultural heritage: continuation of digitalisation; an amendment to the Historic Buildings and Monuments Protection Act is being investigated;
- responsibility to the victims of Nazism: finalising the concluding payments on the basis of the Restitutions Fund Act;
- establishment of the Wiesenthal Institute;
- renovation of the Austrian Pavilion at the Auschwitz memorial. The concept for a comprehensive redesign of the exhibition has been ready since April 2010. Austria provided EUR 6 million, which flow through the National Fund to the International Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, founded by Poland. Austria thereby wishes to make a contribution to ensuring that one of the most important international memorial sites to the crimes of the Shoah remains for posterity.
Chapter published: 10-12-2013