Political responsibility for culture at the local level rests with either the city / town councillor or in some smaller municipalities with the mayor. The majority of local government offices, or municipal administrations have cultural departments (often combined with sports, tourism, science and education), which are inter alia responsible for libraries, as well as amateur art, folk culture, traditions and village renewal. Communities with less than 20 000 inhabitants generally have no culture department of their own.
Local level competence includes:
- preservation of the appearance of villages, towns, old town centres
- festivals, especially in provincial capitals such as Bregenz, Salzburg, Linz, Graz (in co-operation with the respective Bundesland and the federal government)
- promotion of urban institutions in the cities (stages, cultural centres, etc.)
- amateur art (amateur theatres, brass bands, folklore groups)
- local museums
- libraries, adult education facilities
In some cities, cultural policy concepts are the basis for policy decisions and developments. The city of Salzburg, for example defined in the Cultural Development Plan II (2015) cultural guidelines and principles, taking into consideration the social and cultural developments over the last years and highlighting the culture policy action framework for the years to come.
In Graz (2003) and Linz (2009) discussions on the sustainability of the European Capital of Culture provided an impetus for further location development.
In Graz a cultural development process was initiated in 2003: the Graz Cultural Dialogue. It is a communication process between artists and those interested in culture, as well as political decision-makers on various special issues, which led to the establishment of a cultural advisory committee (Kulturbeirat), a branch-related specialist advisory system and an annual arts and culture report. The current state of debate and the cultural policy positions are subject of a Living Paper and the evolution of the cultural strategy for the City of Graz will be continued as a work in progress.
The Linz Cultural Development Plan (Kulturentwicklungsplan, KEP) was agreed upon in 2000. From 2011 onwards, a new strategy was worked out in a participative process involving the general public. The new KEP, with guidelines and measures for the cultural future of Linz, was agreed upon in 2013. It considers itself as a binding strategy document, created on an overall basis to ensure the cultural vibrancy of the city for the next 10 to 15 years.