On the national level, artistic freedom has been anchored in the Constitution since 1982, apart from the freedom of expression as an independent fundamental right. Thus, it protects any kind of artistic creation from state intervention. Participation and access to critical debates with art and culture are seen as key factors for the high quality of life of a society in Austria.
The Bundesländer also safeguard freedom of art, support cultural education and mediation as well as equal access to and participation in art and culture for everyone. The Bundesländer are responsible for art and culture, the state acts in a subsidiary role and the Kunstförderungsgesetz (1988), as a self-binding law, includes the objectives to promote and convey artistic creation and to improve the general conditions for artists. The guiding principles for the promotion of art and culture by the federal state are outlined in the estimated federal budget (2020), where two main targets were defined: 1. cultural education and mediation, ensuring broad public access to art and culture and 2. guarantee of sustainable and stable framework conditions for contemporary art work. Both goals can hardly be achieved due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of art and cultural institutions.
Many cultural offers are concentrated in Vienna, where nearly a third of the Austrian population lives and many of the major art and culture institutions are located. In order to balance this out, district, suburban and rural culture development are supported by different instruments on regional and local level to improve access to and participation in the arts and culture for broader sections of the population even in outer regions.
Rural areas in Austria are traditionally characterised by a very dense cultural offering. Throughout the year, there are festivals, art and cultural initiatives and events in all regions. These events are low-threshold in access and participation and heavily geared to participation.