The nine Bundesländer (federal provinces) in Austria are: Burgenland (BGL), Carinthia (K), Lower Austria (NÖ), Salzburg (SBG), Styria (STMK), Tyrol (T), Upper Austria (OÖ), Vienna (W) and Vorarlberg (VBG).
The Bundesländer are active in promoting culture in all relevant fields, based on elements of private law. All Bundesländer governments have at least one department that concerns with cultural affairs, in some cases they are associated with science, education or sports. 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), most of them were implemented during the 1980s. They stipulate the establishment of advisory boards and the publication of a report on the expenditure on the arts and culture.
General cultural responsibilities of the federal provinces include:
- all legal agendas concerning cultural policy (Kulturhoheit, i.e. cultural sovereignty)
- promotion of cultural activities related to the respective Bundesland, often in cooperation with the federal responsibilities (which have different priorities for promotion)
- promotion of activities to preserve the appearance of villages and towns – maintenance of the old town centres
- promotion of contemporary art
- foundations and funds owned by the Bundesländer
- music schools
- theatres, cinemas, events
- heritage, tradition and folk art
- annual festivals, e.g. Salzburg Festival (SBG), Bregenz Festival (VBG), SteirischerHerbst (STMK), Festival der Regionen (OÖ), Ars Electronica (OÖ), Viennale (W), Wiener Festwochen (W), JazzfestWiesen (BGL), TirolerFestspieleErl (T), Glatt&Verkehrt (NÖ) etc.
Current cultural support acts are in Burgenland since 1980, in Lower Austria since 1996, in the province of Salzburg since 1998, in Carinthia since 2001, in Styria since 2005 and in Vorarlberg since 2009. 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. Upper Austria has had a cultural promotion act since 1987 and started a discussion process in 2007, the outcomes were formulated as cultural concept (2009) and on this basis the cultural-policy funding priorities were defined in the new cultural promotion act in 2011.
In addition to these laws, several Bundesländer – as well as local authorities – set out cultural (development) strategies or guiding principles. Burgenland initiated a debate on culture and the development of guiding principles in 2000, in 2012 the Kulturperspektiven 2020 Leitbild (perspectives for culture mission statement) was amended. Lower Austria presented a culture strategy in 2000 and in 2015 a revised version was developed on a broad basis: the KulturstrategieNeu (new culture strategy) contains the objectives and focal points for the years ahead. About 600 participants were involved in the development of the Kulturentwicklungsplan (KEP) (cultural development plan) of the Land Salzburg. After a year of discussion and development process, the results, the visions, goals and measures were approved by the government of Salzburg 2018. Since June 2019, Upper Austria has been working on a new culture development plan.
Subsidy reports are available for all Bundesländer, except Upper Austria, which publishes a chapter “Art and Kultus” in the general annual promotion report of the country.