6. Cultural participation and consumption
Last update: February, 2022
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. Appropriate cultural support measures – in the fields of museum, theatre and arts education – are therefore being undertaken at all policy levels.
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 transcultural, inclusive and dialogue-oriented initiatives.
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 2012 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; in the meantime, there is a Bundesverband Kulturloge e.V. (http://www.kulturloge.de/), in which about 50 Kulturlogen from 10 German states have joined together.
Last update: February, 2022
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 3: Cultural consumption and participation in Germany
|Activities heavily subsidised by the state||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
|Opera performances *||2019/2020: |
2.42 Mio. visits
3.84 Mio. visits
| 2017/2018: |
3,76 Mio. visits
|Dance *||2019/2020: |
1.053 Mio. visits
1.676 Mio. visits
|2017/2018: 1.608 Mio. visits|
|Operetta *||2019/2020: |
0.313 Mio. visits
0.487 Mio. visits
|2017/2018: 0.433 Mio. visits|
3.724 Mio. visits
5.081 Mio. visits
|2017/2018: 5.431 Mio. visits|
|Orchestras *||2019/2020: |
3.885 Mio. visits
5.579 Mio. visits
|2017/2018: 5.093 Mio. visits|
|Libraries (only public ones) **||2021: 57.4 Mio. visits / 249 Mio. Loans||2020: 71.9 Mio. visits / 261.8 Loans||2019: 125.5 Mio. visits / 339.1 Mio. Loans|
|Museums ***|| 2019:|
|2018: 111662229 visits||2017: 114375732 visits|
|Socio-cultural centres ****||2017: 12.566 Mio. visits||2015: 10.890 Mio. visits||2013: 10.475 Mio. visits|
|Cinemas *****|| 2020: 38 |
|2019: 119 Mio. visits||2017: 122 Mio. visits|
|First edition books *****||2020: 69200||2019: 70000||2017: 72499|
|Daily newspapers sold *****|| 2020: per|
publication day 12.5 million copies of 320 daily newspapers
|2017: per publication day: 14.7 million copies of 327 daily newspapers||NA|
|Access to the Internet *****||2021: 95 %||2017: 91 %||2003: 43 %|
| Internet activities for cultural purposes of Internet users ***** -Reading news, newspapers, magazines|
-Listen to music via Internet radio or online streaming services
-Watch videos from commercial online providers
* German Stage Association: Theatre statistics 2019/ 2020 and German Stage Association: Theatre statistics 2017/2018
** German library statistics: 2021. 2020, 2019. It should be noted that due to the COVID 19 pandemic, libraries were closed for two periods during the Lockdwons, both in 2020 and 2021.
*** Institute of Museum Research: Statistical Survey of Museums in the Federal Republic of Germany: Issue 75 (2019), Issue 73 (2018), Issue 72 (2017)
**** Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder (2020): Spartenbericht Soziokultur und Kulturelle Bildung.
***** Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder (2022): Kulturindikatoren kompakt and Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder (2019): Kulturindikatoren kompakt
Last update: February, 2022
Table 4: Household cultural expenditure by expenditure purpose, in euros 2015, 2016 and 2017
|I. Books and press||357||366||359|
|II. recreational and cultural services||769||744||737|
|Visit cinema, theatre, music, circus. events||138||128||129|
|Visit museums, zoological and botanical gardens||41||37||38|
|III. audiovisual Equipment and data carriers||299||300||297|
|Sound and image reception,-recording and playback devices||69||64||64|
|Photo, film and optical equipment||28||31||27|
|Data processing, equipment and software||140||138||134|
|Sound, image and other Data carrier||62||67||72|
Table 5: Household cultural expenditure by expenditure purpose, in % for 2015, 2016 and 2017
|I. Books and press||11,6||11,8||11,6|
|II. recreational and cultural services||24,8||24,1||24,4|
|Visit cinema, theatre, music, circus. events||4,4||4,1||4,2|
|Visit museums, zoological and botanical gardens||1,3||1,2||1,3|
|III. audiovisual Equipment and data carriers||9,6||9,7||9,8|
|Sound and image reception,-recording and playback devices||2,2||2,1||2,1|
|Photo, film and optical equipment||0,9||1,0||0,9|
|Data processing, equipment and software||4,5||4,4||4,4|
|Sound, image and other Data carrier||2,0||2,2||2,4|
Sources: Statistical Offices of the Federation and the Länder (2020): Culture Finance Report 2020 and own calculations
Last update: February, 2022
Cultural life in Germany is characterised by the activities of a large number of associations and other groups based on voluntary commitment. They range from small local or district-based cultural organisations to museum associations that run their own facilities. Especially in smaller communities, many cultural institutions are often organised in the form of associations and are based on the voluntary commitment of their members. This applies to the activities of libraries, the preservation of historical monuments, local history and culture, the sponsorship of local history rooms, history museums, cultural centres and art galleries.
For all their diversity, what they have in common is that they are a place for the development of civic engagement, with the larger ones in particular being exemplary in their intermeshing of voluntary and professional work. The cultural associations thus form an indispensable supporting structure for cultural activities in the Federal Republic of Germany.
According to the 2019 "Freiwilligensurvey" (a survey conducted every five years), 39.7 per cent of the resident population in Germany aged 14 and over are involved in voluntary work (compared to 43.6 per cent in 2014), 8.6 per cent in the field of culture and music (compared to 9.0 per cent in 2014 and 5.2 per cent in 2009).
Volunteer Day is celebrated annually on 15 December.
The socio-cultural centres play a very important role, in particular they enable a low-threshold access to culture. There are more than 700 socio-cultural centres in Germany. The majority of sociocultural centres are members of the Federal Association of Socioculture (Bundesverband Soziokultur, BuSZ) through their regional associations. This publishes the results of its member survey every two years. According to the last survey of the Federal Association, which collected data for the business year 2017, published in 2019 and the sector report Socioculture and Cultural Education , more than 80 000 individual events, 227000 continuous offers (courses) and 33 000 open offers were offered by the 566 sociocultural centres organised in the Federal Association. The range of services offered includes interdisciplinary event work as well as educational and political work, district work, children's and youth work, intercultural work, work with senior citizens and other special target groups. In addition to their 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 resulted in around12.6 million visits in 2017. The activities of the centres reach people of all age groups: about one fifth each is under 20 years old and over 60 years old, 14 percent of the users are migrants. Civic engagement is also very strong around the socio-cultural centres: of the approximately 27,500 people who work in socio-cultural institutions, about 16,200 are volunteers, which corresponds to 59 percent of all actors. The total income of the centres was 230 million euros. In 2017, slightly more than half of the income (58%) came from various funding sources (27% from the municipalities, 18% from the Länder, 5% from federal funds as well as other funds from the EU, foundations and other sponsors), while 42% were own funds.
Against the backdrop of the Corona pandemic, the Federal Association of Socioculture has conducted a special survey, covering the period from April 2020 to April 2021, entitled "3, 2, 1... up! Situation of socio-cultural centres and initiatives, literary and cultural centres and cultural initiatives 2021" has been published. It gives an insight into the personnel and financial situation of the scene under pandemic conditions.