6. Cultural participation and consumption
Last update: March, 2020
The basic principle governing cultural policy in Germany – a principle that has been enshrined in some of the Land Constitutions – is to enable the greatest possible number of citizens to participate in the country's cultural life. All public cultural policy endeavours and expenditures serve the aim of creating the conditions for free and unfettered participation in cultural life. As in the past, however, some segments of the population are still afraid of trying something new and unfamiliar. Appropriate cultural support measures – in the fields of museum, theatre and arts education – are therefore being undertaken at all policy levels to reduce obstacles to access posed by educational deficiencies.
In the cultural policy debate, a direct link has, for some time, been established between the subject of cultural participation and issues of citizen involvement, of social cohesion etc. These issues are becoming increasingly important in relation to discussions on demographic developments and the growing significance of intercultural, inclusive and dialogue-oriented initiatives. Recently, some initiatives started to promote participation in cultural life, for instance for people with lower incomes or for children and young people.
In recent years, numerous programmes have been set up to promote cultural participation. These relate to (disadvantaged) children and young people, for example. Particularly noteworthy in this context is the programme Culture makes you strong (“Kultur macht stark”) launched by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2013, which supports projects that are explicitly aimed at children and young people in "difficult social situations" (low education, low income or parental unemployment) in order to "also enable these children and young people to have good educational opportunities and participate in society" (see also chapter 5.1). The Kulturrucksack (culture backpack) initiative launched in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2011 also aims to provide young people between the ages of 10 and 14 with free or low-cost access to cultural facilities. Cultural institutions also support this goal, for example by providing free admission for children and young people, as is the case in numerous Berlin museums, in Saxony with free admission for children up to 16 years of age to all public museums, for children and young people up to 18 years of age to all museums of the Rhineland Regional Association, and in many municipal museums in Frankfurt am Main.
Worth mentioning is also the initiative of Kulturlogen (culture lodges). The idea is to enable people with lower incomes to have free access to cultural performances by distributing seats that are provided by theatres and other cultural institutions. The first Kulturloge started in 2009 in Marburg; meanwhile the idea spread to other major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Göttingen, and Gießen but also to rural districts e.g. Lahn-Dill-Kreis.
Last update: March, 2020
Despite the continuously increasing number and variety of cultural and leisure-time activities since the 1970s – especially those made available by the culture and media industries – attendance and participation figures for public cultural institutions have continued to rise over the long term, though they have fluctuated widely and declined in some areas.
Table 2: People who participated in or attended a certain cultural activity during the last 12 months in Germany (in % of the population, over 3 available years)
|Activities heavily subsidised by the state||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Opera performances *||2017/2018: 3.768 Mio. visitors||2016/2017: 3.797 Mio. visitors||2015/2016: 3.882 Mio visitors|
|Dance *||2017/2018: 1.608 Mio. visitors||2016/2017: 1.576 Mio. visitors||2015/2016: 1.630 Mio visitors|
|Operetta *||2017/2018: 0.433 Mio. visitors||2016/2017: 0.423 Mio. visitors||2015/2016: 0.452 Mio. visitors|
|Play||2017/2018: 5.431 Mio. visitors||2016/2017: 5.205 Mio. visitors||2015/2016: 5.362 Mio. visitors|
|Orchestras||2017/2018: 5.093 Mio. visitors||2016/2017: 5.303 Mio. visitors||2015/2016: 5.416 Mio. visitors|
|Libraries (only public ones) **||2018: 120.78 Mio. visits / 339.62 Mio. Loans||2017: 120.49 Mio. visits / 346.03 Loans||2016: 121.16 Mio. visits / 356.84 Mio. Loans|
|Museums ***||2017: 114,375,732 visits||2016: 111,877,085 visits||2015: 114,423,192 visits|
|Cultural centres ****||2017: 12.566 Mio. visits||2015: 10.890 Mio. visits||2013: 10.475 Mio. visits|
|Cinemas *****||2017: 122 Mio. visits|
|First edition books ******||2017: 72.499:|
|Daily newspapers sold ******||2017: per publication day: 14.7 million copies of 327 daily newspapers|
|Access to the Internet ******||2017: 91 %||2003: 43 %|
|Internet activities for cultural purposes of Internet users ****** Reading news, newspapers, magazinesListen to music via Internet radio or online streaming servicesWatch videos from commercial online providers||2017: 71% 2017: 48% 2017: 30%|
* Deutscher Bühnenverein: Theaterstatistiken 2017/2018, 2016/2017 und 2015/20126
** Deutsche Bibliotheksstatistik: 2018, 2017, 2016
*** Institut für Museumsforschung: Statistische Gesamterhebung an den Musen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland: Heft 72 (2017), Heft 71 (2016), Heft 70 (2015)
**** Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (2020): Spartenbericht Soziokultur und Kulturelle Bildung
***** Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (2019): Kulturindikatoren kompakt
****** Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (2018): Kulturfinanzbericht 2018
Table 4: Cultural / artistic - aesthetic activities of 9- to under 25-year-olds by type of activity by age group in percent in Germany
|Musical activities in total||50,0|
|Playing an instrument||34.4|
|Creating electronic music / sample||5.4|
|Rapping / beatboxing||3.0|
|Visual Activities in total||65,9|
|Creating pictures / drawings on the PC||20.8|
|Making videos / films||12.6|
|Making fashion / jewellery||7.5|
|Making pottery / figures / sculptures||3.6|
|Spraying / grafiti||2.3|
|Performing activities in total||25,7|
|Dancing / ballet||16.3|
|Acting / playing theatre||9.2|
|Acrobatics / juggling||3.9|
|Comedy / cabaret||1.0|
|Cultural activities in total||82.0|
Source: Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung: Bildung in Deutschland 2012. In indikatorengestützter Bericht mit einer Analyse zur kulturellen Bildung im Lebenslauf, Bielefeld: Bertelsmann.
Last update: March, 2020
Table 5: Household cultural expenditure by expenditure purpose, 2015 and 2016
|Items (Field/Domain)||Household expenditure per Household (in EUR)||Share of expenditure on selected consumer goods in total private consumption expenditure in %|
|2016||2015||Year 1||Year 2|
|I. Books and Press||372||360||12,0||11,9|
|II. Cultural Services||744||744||24,0||34,6|
|Visits of cinema, theatre, music events, circus and other events||128||129||4,1||4,3|
|Visits of museums, zoological and botanical gardens||37||38||1,2||1,3|
|III. Audiovisual equipment and accessories||348||324||11,2||10,7|
|Television and video equipment, TV aerials||96||96||3,1||3,2|
|Photo, film and optical equipment||36||24||1,2||0,8|
|Data processing equipment and software||144||132||4,7||4,4|
|Sound, image and other data carriers||72||72||2,3||2,4|
Source: Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (2018): Kulturfinanzbericht 2018 own calculations
Last update: March, 2020
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.