The importance of cultural associations in Germany is just as great as their diversity. They range from small local or neighbourhood sponsors of cultural activities to museum associations that run their own institutions. Cultural institutions in smaller municipalities are frequently organised as associations and depend on the voluntary engagement of their members. This refers to the activities of libraries, monument protection, local culture and the running of local museums, historical museums, culture clubs and arts galleries.
Despite the tremendous diversity, all cultural associations have one thing in common: they are the ideal breeding ground for civic commitment and involvement. The larger ones are prime examples of how volunteers and professionals can work hand in hand. Cultural associations thus form an indispensable structural framework for the sponsorship of cultural activities in the Federal Republic of Germany.
According to the Volunteer Survey of 2014 (conducted every 5 years), about 43.6 percent of the resident population of Germany aged 14 and older are volunteers, 9.0 % in the field of culture and music (compared to 5.2 % in 2009).
The socio-cultural centres play a very important role, in particular they provide low-threshold access to culture. There are more than 700 socio-cultural centres in Germany. The majority of the sociocultural centres are members of the Federal Association of Socio-Cultural Centres (Bundesvereinigung Soziokultureller Zentren BuSZ) via the regional associations. According to the latest survey of the Federal Association of Socio-Cultural Centres, which collected data for the 2017 financial year and was published in 2019, and the Socio-Cultural and Cultural Education Divisional Report, more than 80,000 individual events, 227,000 continuous courses and 33,000 open courses were offered by the 566 socio-cultural centres organised in the BuSZ.
The range of offers include cross-divisional
event work as well as educational and political work, district work, child and
youth work, intercultural work, work with senior citizens and other special
target groups. In addition to its own events, the premises of the member
institutions of the BuSZ were used for around 9,600 external events in 2017. The
diverse events of the socio-cultural institutions in the BuSZ led to around
12.6 million visits in 2017. The activities of the centres reach people of all
age groups: about one fifth of the users are under 20 and over 60 years of age,
14 % of the users are migrants. Civic involvement is also very pronounced
around the socio-cultural centres: of the 27,500 or so people working in
socio-cultural institutions, around 16,200 are volunteers and voluntary
workers, which corresponds to 59 % of all actors. The total income of the
centres amounted to EUR 230 million. In 2017, slightly more than half of the
income (58 %) came from the various funding sources (27 % from the
municipalities, 18 % from the federal states, 5 % from federal funds and other
funds from the EU, foundations and other sponsors), while 42 % was made up of own
 Bundesvereinigung Soziokultureller Zentren e.V. (2019): Was braucht? Soziokulturelle Zentren in Zahlen, Berlin: Self-published.
 Bundesamt für Statistik (2020): Spartenbericht Soziokultur und Kulturelle Bildung, Wiesbaden: Self-published.