Cultural initiatives are an important part of Austria’s art and cultural landscape. As cultural providers are also active outside of the urban centres, their programmes enable numerous people to participate in art and culture. Within the framework of their events, they offer opportunities for artists to perform and present their work, but they also form creative stimuli through their own art and cultural projects and thus form a popular experimental field for new young trends. In this way, they contribute to a lively and diverse image of Austria as a cultural country. Above all, innovative, time-related and experimental cultural forms and socio-cultural initiatives, in particular art and cultural activities, which develop new themes in the field of contemporary art and culture while taking regional, cultural and social conditions into account, are publicly promoted. IG Kultur, which represents the interests of freelance cultural initiatives and associations, currently has 764 members, some three hundred of them have been annually funded by a special department in the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery, and there are also regional and local funding opportunities. Many people work on a voluntary basis, as the nationwide survey Voluntary Engagement in Austria (2015) shows: 6% of the Austrian population over 15 years are working voluntary in differing forms in the area of art and culture, especially in cultural initiatives. However, the shift from basic funding to project-oriented funding has made continuous work more difficult for small-scale cultural associations.
Amateur arts also play a major role in everyday life in Austria: there are numerous adult education courses in the field of ‘creativity’, provided by the 270 adult education centres. The music school’s system facilitates a nationwide education programme in the field of music. Moreover, there are over 14 500 cultural associations active in the fields of amateur music, theatre and singing in Austria. Although all these establishments promote activities in the sphere of amateur arts, above all in the rural areas, these are neither an object of public debate and discussion, nor have they been surveyed and assessed by academic research.