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 (Länder) 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. In addition, the municipal level (municipalities, independent cities and districts) has its own elected representatives (municipal councils or district councils), usually with cultural committees.
The local authorities have joined forces in three central municipal associations: the German Association of Cities and Towns (3,200 municipalities), the German Association of Towns and Municipalities (for municipalities and towns belonging to districts – 11,000 smaller, medium-sized and large municipalities via the 17 state associations) and the German Association of Counties (294 counties). They represent the interests of the districts, cities and municipalities vis-à-vis other political actors. Although they do not have a qualified right to be heard or a right to participate in the shaping of legislation according to Article 28 in the Basic Law, some Länder 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 school and sports departments).
A legally regulated general financial equalisation system between the Länder and municipalities exists in all 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 Cultural Area Act in Saxony is of particular importance here. It was passed in 1993 for ten years, after which it was extended for a limited period. In 2008, the law was extended by at least 86.7 million euros. These are allocated to the five rural and three urban cultural areas for the promotion of regionally and nationally significant cultural institutions and cultural activities. In 2011/2012 it was last amended and the funding of the Saxony State Theatre (Landesbühne Sachsen), until then a free state task, was integrated into the Cultural Areas Act.
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