Germany has a large and diverse theatre landscape – divided into 3 sectors. These include: the state and municipal theatres, commercially run musical and entertainment stages and a high density of independent theatres, dance companies and performance groups. There are historical reasons for the high density of theatres in Germany: before the founding of the nation state in 1871, there were a large number of city-states, small states and principalities, whose residence cities each maintained their own court and state theatres. In the 19th century, theatre became the central form of self-understanding for the emancipating bourgeoisie, and numerous municipal theatres were established. As early as the 1920s, new, open theatre forms emerged (certainly in an avoidance from bourgeois theatre aesthetics), in the 1960s these developments were taken up in the western federal states and numerous independent theatres were established.
The central actors at association level are the German Stage Association (Deutscher Bühnenverein), the Federal Association of Independent Performing Arts (Bundesverband der Freien Darstellende Künste) and the Association of German Amateur Theatres (Bund Deutscher Amateurtheater). The German Stage Association pursues the goal of “maintaining, promoting and cultivating the diversity of the theatre and orchestra landscape and its cultural offerings”. It is an interest and employer association of (publicly funded) theatres and orchestras. The Federation Association of Independent Performing Arts is the umbrella organisation of the 16 regional associations and three associated associations and represents the interests of its more than 2,300 members on a national level. Whether theatres and dance houses, collectives or individual actors: In total, the Federal Association of Independent Performing Arts represents around 25,000 theatre and dance professionals in Germany. The Association of German Amateur Theatres, founded in 1892, represents the German amateur theatre. The basis of its cultural and educational activities is formed by some 2,400 amateur theatres, including more than 500 children’s and youth groups and 75 senior citizens’ ensembles.
The German Stage Association regularly publishes theatre statistics and workshop statistics. The theatre statistics provide an overview of the most important data of publicly funded and private theatres, orchestras and festival companies in Germany. Each individual company is presented with details of events and visitors, personnel, income and expenditure, and prices. The workshop statistics contain information on the plays of a season, including the number of performances, the frequency of productions and the number of visitors.
The most recent theatre statistics of the German Stage Association, published in 2019, contains the data for the 2017/2018 season. All in all 142 state theatres, municipal theatres and regional stages as well as 128 orchestras (including theatre orchestras), 199 private theatres and 85 festivals reported their income and expenditure, personnel data, attendance figures and events in 2017/2018. There were a total of 65,356 performances. Including publicly funded theatres, festivals, private theatres, independent symphony orchestras and radio orchestras, around 34.7 million spectators (previous year approx. 35.5 million) visited the venues in 2017/2018.
The Federal Association of Independent Performing Artsalso regularly presents the results of its member survey, most recently in 2016. Approximately one third of the members are production groups without their own performance venue or individual artists, about one quarter are groups or production groups with their own performance venue. The predominant legal form is self-employment or freelance work. In the independent performing arts, an average of 3.7 new productions are created each year and performed 54.7 times over time. The independent scene is strongly oriented towards networking; cooperations, guest performances and co-productions are among its typical forms of work. With 15,2000 events for children and young people, 52% of the theatre offering for this target group is provided by the liberal performing arts (for comparison: 13,760 by the public theatres).
The structures of funding and also structures of employment for the
theatres differ very considerably in relation to the sectors: While publicly
funded state and municipal theatres generally receive institutional funding
from the respective host countries or municipalities, funding for the liberal
performing arts is predominantly project funding.
 Deutscher Bühnenverein: Theaterstatistik 2017/2018. Die wichtigsten Wirtschaftsdaten der Theater, Orchester und Festspiele, 53. Ausgabe, Köln: Self-published.
 Bundesverband Frei Darstellende Künste / Rosendahl, Matthias / Scholl, Dominik / Heering, Martin (2016): Freie Darstellende Künste in Deutschland: Daten, Analysen und Portraits, Berlin: Self-published.
 For the funding structures including further information on goals, funding levels etc. see: Blumenreich, Ulrike (2016): Aktuelle Förderstrukturen der freien Darstellenden Künste in Deutschland, Ergebnisse der Befragung von Kommunen und Ländern, Berlin: Self-published.