The legal basis of arts promotion at federal level is the Federal Arts Promotion Act, adopted in 1988. Decisions on subsidies for the arts are made upon the (non-binding) recommendations of advisory boards and juries, consisting of experts from the various branches of the arts. In order to create as much transparency as possible, the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Chancellery publishes the annual Federal Art and Culture Report. It provides information on state expenditure for the arts and cultural activities and for the main cultural institutions, heritage protection, foundations, cultural education and cooperation between cultural institutions and schools, provenance and restitution as well as EU and international cultural affairs. The presentation of the support payments follows the LIKUS system (Länder-Initiative Kultur-Statistik), which organises the data by arts sectors. It was set up in 1996 to achieve transparency and comparability, especially between the expenditures of the Bundesländer and those of the federal level.
There are support departments at all levels of the administration that sponsor artistic creation in every sector. The Federal Chancellery is responsible for federal funding programmes for all segments of contemporary art: performing art, fine art, music, literature, film, new media, photography, architecture and design as well as cultural initiatives. Owing to subsidarity, it is above all the federal provinces and municipalities that are responsible for the support of art and culture.