In addition to government bodies and actors, there is a host of actors involved in supporting different forms of cultural work and cultural programmes such as: radio and television broadcasters, business-sector institutions, various groups in society (churches, unions, and associations), civic organisations and initiatives, clubs and private individuals.
This extensive network of intermediaries between the state and the culture scene complements public-sector activity and is indispensable for a vibrant and progressive cultural life in Germany. Pluralism of sponsors and vehicles of culture is a structural and important element of the system which is also indicated in the Constitutionand the laws governing Germany’s cultural sector. The various forms of commercial cultural activities likewise play an important role in the nation’s cultural life.
As a rule, there is no organised form of co-operation or coordination of cultural activities between “the state” and this diverse network of non-governmental actors. There are, however, more and more instances where public cultural affairs administrations at the Federal, Land and local level are cooperating with intermediaries (arms-length bodies) in order to implement their support programmes or to generate sponsorship for cultural institutions.
In Germany there is a National Network for Civil Society (Bundesnetzwerk Bürgerschaftliches Engagement BBE), linking organisations and associations from the third sector (non-profit organisations) and civil society, from business and work life and federal and community institutions. It was founded by the National Council of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV 2001) in 2002. Meanwhile, the BBEhas 270 member organisations representing millions of members. The BBEpromotes civic involvement in all social areas and forms (e.g., in social work and health care, sports, cultural activities, the environment, education and academic life, politics and business).
In the cultural (political) field there are numerous nationwide associations as strong actors of civil society.
The Association for Cultural Policy (Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft) and the German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat) are to be emphasized as cross-divisional associations. The Association of Cultural Policy is a network of around 1,500 people and organisations interested and committed to cultural policy, including in the fields of cultural policy and administration, cultural practice, science, art, cultural education and training, socio-culture and journalism. It is committed to a publicly responsible, democratic cultural policy that is actively shaped at all political levels, which ensures cultural diversity and artistic freedom and enables as many people as possible to have access to art and culture. The German Cultural Council is the umbrella organisation of the federal cultural associations. It is supported by eight sections (Music, Performing Arts and Dance, Literature, Visual Arts, Monument Culture, Design, Media, Sociocultural and Cultural Education), which are divided according to professional aspects and are in turn made up of a total of 258 federal associations. Its aim is to introduce cross-disciplinary issues into the cultural policy debate at all levels throughout Germany.
In addition, there are a number of sector-specific cultural associations, such as German Library Association (Deutscher Bibliotheksverband), Federal Association of Visual Artists (Bundesverband der Bildenden Künstlerinnen und Künstler), Federal Association for Cultural Child and Youth Education (Bundesvereinigung Kultureller Kinder- und Jugendbildung), Federal Association of Youth Art Schools and Cultural Pedagogical Institutions (Bundesverband der Jugendkunstschulen und Kulturpädaogogischer Einrichtungen), Federal Association of Liberal Performing Arts (Bundesverband Freier Darstellender Künste), Federal Association of Socio-Cultural Centres (Bundesvereinigung Soziokultureller Zentren), German Stage Association (Deutscher Bühnenverein), German Museums Association (Deutscher Museumsbund).
In addition, there are other associations of actors from the economy, churches, trade unions, etc.