The responsibility for cultural policy at local level has been passed on from the federal states (Länder) to the municipalities. There is no specific legal basis for the competence on cultural policy of the municipalities. They are generally anchored in Article 28, Paragraph II of the Basic Law and are regulated in the various state constitutions in municipal and district laws.
On the municipal level, cultural affairs fall, in most cases, under the responsibility of specific Cultural Commissioners (Kulturdezernenten) with their own administrative structures. They are responsible for programmes, public cultural institutions such as local theatres, libraries, museums or music schools, etc. Municipal and county councils have their own cultural affairs committees.
The local authorities have joined together in 3 local authority umbrella organisations: the German Association of Towns and Cities (3,600 municipalities), the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (for district municipalities and towns – 13,000 small and medium-sized municipalities) and the German Association of Counties (295 counties). They represent the interests of the administrative districts, towns and municipalities vis-à-vis other political actors. Although they do not have a qualified right to be heard or a legislative right of co-determination according to Article 28 of the Basic Law, some federal states have guaranteed them participation in legislative procedures. All municipal umbrella organisations have cultural committees (in the case of the Association of Towns and Municipalities in combination with the departments of schools and sport).
A legally regulated general financial equalisation system between municipalities and districts exists in all federal states (Länder). In addition to the general financial allocations, half of the federal states also have earmarked allocations for cultural tasks, especially for theatre funding, and in some cases also for museums, libraries and music schools. The Act on the Cultural Areas in the Freistaat of Saxony is one important example of particular importance here. It was initially passed in 1993 for a period of 10 years, after which it was extended for a limited period. In 2008, the limitation on the Act was lifted. It is provided with a budget of at least 86.7 million EUR. These are allocated to the 5 rural and 3 urban cultural areas for the promotion of cultural institutions and cultural activities of regional and supra-regional importance. In 2011/2012 it was last amended and the financing of the Saxony State Theatre (Landesbühne Sachsen), until then a task of the Free State, was integrated into the Cultural Areas Act.