The agendas of international cultural cooperation are distributed over various ministries in Austria. The main actors are the Cultural Policy Department of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and Department II/10 “European and international cultural policy” of the Arts and Culture Division within the Federal Chancellery. The Federal Ministries of Education, Science and Research, of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, for Digital and Economic Affairs and for Sustainability and Tourism are also involved in this area; as is the Federal Ministry of Finance, which provides state guarantees for major international museum exhibitions and the Federal Ministry of Justice, concerning copyright and other intellectual property rights issues.
The Cultural Policy Department (Section V) of the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs (BMEIA) consists of four divisions. They are responsible for basic and legal issues, cultural agreements, coordination, the cultural budget and evaluation (Dep. V.1); the organisation of cultural and scientific events abroad (Dep. V.2), scientific-technical and dialogue between cultures and religions (Dep. V.3), and for multilateral cultural policies and sports affairs. The main tasks of international cultural policy are outlined in the Auslandskulturkonzept.
International cultural policy is an important instrument of Austrian foreign policy and aims to position Austria as future-oriented state and focuses on the dissemination of contemporary aspects of cultural and scientific work in Austria. Austria is to be shown as an innovative, creative nation whose achievements in art, culture and science are built upon great traditions, a basis for further innovations. Geographically, Austrian international cultural policy is currently focusing on the neighbouring countries, the Western Balkans and Southeast Europe. Thematic priorities for 2015 to 2018 included film and new media, architecture, dance, women in the arts and sciences and intercultural dialogue.
The Cultural Policy Department of the BMEIA is in charge of a number of Austrian cultural facilities abroad, such as:
- a total of 30 Cultural Fora (in Beijing, Belgrade, Berlin, Bern, Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels, Cairo, Istanbul, Kiev, Ljubljana, London, Madrid, Mexico, Milan, Moscow, New York, New Delhi, Ottawa, Paris, Prague, Rome, Sarajevo, Teheran, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington and Zagreb)
- 82 embassies, 26 of them with a Cultural Forum
- 11 general consulates, 4 of them with a Cultural Forum
- 280 honorary consulates
- 65 Austrian Libraries in 25 countries, most of them in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Region and Central Asia
- 10 branches of the Austria Institute, offering German language courses in Belgrade, Bratislava, Brno, Budapest, Krakow, Warsaw, Ljubljana, Rome, Wrocław and Istanbul
Most of the operative budget for international cultural policy is distributed to the cultural forums, which is used for their own annual budget. The programme planning is agreed with the respective ambassador and the responsible department in the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.
Cultural protocols or programmes, with a term of three or four years, regulate the main types of bilateral cultural cooperation, specify the framework conditions and also include agreements on the exchange of experts, cultural activities, groups of artists, ensembles and dance companies. The general and financial provisions are subject to the agreements and protocols negotiated.
Austria has signed agreements on cultural co-operation with a total of 32 states, including 17 EU member states. In addition to these cultural agreements, further agreements on co-operation in the scientific and technical fields have been signed with 19 states. Informal co-operation in the fields of culture and science has developed with seven partner states without requiring any underlying written agreement.