The financing of culture in the Federal Republic of Germany rests on several pillars. In keeping with the subsidiarity principle, culture – and thus the public financing thereof – is first and foremost the responsibility of the citizens and their local communities. Only when the scope or nature of a cultural policy task is beyond the community’s resources does the state step in as a sponsor. The municipalities thus bear the lion’s share of the cost of financing public cultural activities and institutions, followed by the federal states (Länder). Due to its limited competence in the field of cultural policy, the Federal Government provides only a small share of the total support for culture in Germany (see chapter 6.2). Impossible to quantify through financial statistics – but by no means insignificant – are the funds stemming from other policy fields, especially job promotion. In Germany’s western federal states (Länder), the overwhelming majority of these funds were allocated to third sector sponsors of cultural activities and institutions, even prior to unification. In the eastern federal states (Länder), they have taken on great importance in the course of the past ten years for all cultural institutions.
However, the municipalities, the federal states (Länder) and the Federal Government operate on the basis of rather different definitions of the term “culture”. To give an example: scientific museums and libraries are included in “culture” within the statistics on the municipality level by Deutscher Städtetag,whereas they are excluded at the level of the federal states (Länder) by the Kultusministerkonferenz or at the federal level by the Federal Office for Statistics. Another challenging aspect for comparisons is different calculation methods: the principle of gross expenditures by the Deutscher Städtetag and the net expenditures by the Kultusministerkonferenz. As a result, public cultural expenditure statistics often varied considerably, in some cases by billions of EUR.
A partial harmonisation was achieved when the Federal Office for Statistics co-operated with statistical offices of some federal states (Länder) to produce the second Cultural Finance Report, published in 2003. For the first time, the offices for statistics of the federal, federal states (Länder) and municipality level agreed on a generally admitted term of “culture”, which is oriented towards the definitions of EUROSTAT and UNESCO in order to facilitate comparisons at international level. Since then, the following issues were measured by the offices for statistics for “cultural issues”: theatre, music, scientific and other museums, scientific and other libraries, archives, heritage issues, cultural administration, academies of Arts and foreign cultural policy (see Table 4). Furthermore, “cultural related issues” include radio and television broadcasters and media companies, adult education centres and church affairs. Moreover, the principle of basic funds has been chosen to constitute the expenditure.
The following cultural finance reports – 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 – maintained the described concept of culture and the expenditure principles. Following the recommendation of the Enquete Commission, the federal governments and those of the federals states instructed the Federal Statistical Office to set up a national uniform cultural statistics that should be developed from 2014 to 2016. The discussions around a standardisation of cultural statistics were also taken up by the Enquete-Kommission of the German Bundestag(Federal Parliament) on Culture in Germany, which submitted, in its final report, a suggestion on the harmonisation of cultural statistics. In 2008, this suggestion was discussed and at least partly introduced. Following the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry, the Federal Government and the federal states (Länder) have commissioned the Federal Statistical Office in 2012 to establish a nationwide uniform cultural statistics system, the concept for which has been developed for 2014 to 2016. The project was extended from 2017 to 2022 under the title Nationwide Cultural Statistics.
In order to provide greater transparency on public spending on culture, some federal states (Länder) and municipalities published reports on culture offering statistical data as well as presentations of the development of the cultural sectors through public funding – e.g. Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Colonia, Wuppertal and Ulm.
The source of the data presented here are the monitoring reports on cultural funding (Kulturfinanzbe-richte). Since 2000, they have been published by the Federal and State Statistical Offices, initially every three years and since 2006 every two years. The work of the statistical offices in the field of cultural statistics is accompanied by a Working Group on Cultural Statistics consisting of representatives of the German Association of Cities and Towns (Deutscher Städtetag), the Conference of Ministers of Culture (KMK), the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), two federal state ministries of culture and other experts. The most recent version of the Cultural Finance Report – the Cultural Finance Report 2018 – was published in December 2018. It contains the actual data up to 2011, for the years 2012 to 2015 the provisional actual figures and, in addition, for the federal and state levels, for 2016 the provisional actual figures and for 2017 and 2018 the target figures.
According to the Culture Finance Report 2018, the public sector (federal, state and local governments) spent a total of 10.4 billion EUR on culture in 2015 (according to finance statistics, defined according to the basic funding concept). The municipalities provided a budget of 4.7 billion EUR (44.9 % of total public expenditure on culture), while the federal states provided 4.2 billion EUR (40.3 %). The Federal Government contributed a further 1.5 billion EUR (14.8 %) to public cultural funding.
In relation to Germany’s economic power, public spending on culture reached a share of 0.34 % of gross domestic product in 2015. Overall, public budgets allocated 1.73 % of their total budget to culture. Public spending on culture per capita 2015 was 126.77 EUR.
According to the Culture Finance Reports, total public expenditure on culture increased according to the basic budget as follows: 7.98 billion EUR (2005), 9.36 billion EUR (2010), 9.39 billion EUR (2011), 9.44 billion EUR (2012), 9.84 billion EUR (2013), 10.24 billion EUR (2014) to 10.41 billion EUR (2015). Per capita expenditure also increased from 98.20 EUR (2005), 116.65 EUR (2010) to 116.84 EUR (2011), 117.23 EUR (2012), 121.80 EUR (2013), 126.12 EUR (2014) and 126.77 EUR (2015). In contrast, there is no continuous increase in the share of gross domestic product accounted for by cultural expenditure, which changed from 0.35 (2005), to 0.36 (2010), 0.35 (2011), 0.34 (2012), 0.35 (2013 and 2014), 0.34 (2015). A similar development can be seen in the share of public cultural expenditure in the total budget. This changed from 1.60 (20105), to 1.68 (2010 and 2011), 1.66 (2012), 1.67 (2013), 1.72 (2014) and 1.73 (2015).
In addition to public expenditure on culture (which includes theatre and music, libraries, museums, monument protection and preservation, cultural foreign affairs, other cultural activities, public art colleges and the administration for cultural affairs), the public sector will also be responsible for cultural-related activities (i.e. adult education centres, other further education, church affairs and radio and television) with 2.0 billion EUR in 2015. The federal states contributed 1.1 billion EUR (53.2 %), the federal level 0.57 billion euros (28.6 %) and the municipalities 0.361 billion EUR (18.2 %).
In addition, the preliminary actual figures for 2016 and 2017 and the target figures for 2018 are still available for the federal and state levels. Federal cultural expenditure in 2016 was 1.636 billion EUR, in 2017 1.940 billion EUR (provisional actual figures) and in 2018 2.203 billion EUR (target figures), that of the federal states was 4.393 billion EUR in 2016, 4.465 billion EUR in 2017 (provisional actual figures) and 4.711 billion EUR in 2018 (target figures).