7. Financing and support
Last update: March, 2020
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).
Last update: March, 2020
Table 6. Public cultural expenditure by level of government, 2015
|Level of government||Total expenditure in billion EUR*||% share of total|
|State (central, federal)||1.5399||14,78 %|
|Regional (provincial, Länder, etc.)||4.1988||40,31 %|
|Local (municipal, incl. counties)||4.6786||44,91 %|
Source: Statistische Ämter des Bundes und der Länder (2018): Kulturfinanzbericht 2018, Wiesbaden
Last update: March, 2020
Table 7: cultural expenditure and cultural related expenditures 2015 in Germany by federal level, federal state level and local level
|Field/Domain/Sub-domain||TOTAL||Federal level||Federal state level||Local level|
|in million EUR||in %||in million EUR||in %||in million EUR||in %||in million EUR||in %|
|Museums and exhibitions||1,9069||18.3||331.7||17.4||618.1||32.4||957.0||50.2|
|Theater and music||3,683.7||35.4||33.7||2.2||1,644.3||39.2||2,005.7||42.9|
|Cultural foreign affairs||552.2||5.3||551.9||35.8||0.3||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Administration for cultural affairs||239.7||2.3||0.0||0.0||176.5||4.2||63.2||1.4|
|Public universities for arts and music||540.1||5.2||0.0||0.0||540.1||12.9||0.0||0.0|
|Other cultural activities||1,4900||14.3||228.0||14.8||563.6||13.4||698.4||14.9|
|Total cultural expenditure||10,4174||100.0||1,5399||100.0||4,1988||100.0||4,6787||100.0|
|Adult education centers||1,037.3||52.2||266.9||47.0||451.8||42.7||318.6||88.0|
|Radio and television||298.4||15.0||295.3||52.0||3.0||0.3||0.0||0.0|
|Total culture related activities expenditure||1,987.3||100.0||568.3||100.0||1,057.1||100.0||361.9||100.0|
Source: Kulturfinanzbericht 2018 and own calculations
The distribution of public expenditure on culture among the eight cultural sectors in 2015 shows that theatre and music accounted for 35.4 %, or more than a third. Another 18.3 % went to financing museums, collections and exhibitions and 14.4 % to libraries.
A comparison of the expenditure structure of the level of governments shows that the focus varies according to the different distribution of tasks.
The municipalities were most involved in financing the theatre and music sector with 42.9 %. Museums, collections and exhibitions accounted for the second largest share of expenditure at 20.5 %, while libraries were in third place with 16.4 %.
The share of funding for theatre and music at the federal state level lies at 39.2 %, which is also significantly higher than the share of funding for museums (14.7 %) and for other cultural activities (13.4 %) and libraries (10.0 %). The structure of cultural expenditure also varied between the federal states. For example, the share of funding for libraries in the federal states ranged from 8.3 % (Thuringia) to 17.8 % (Lower Saxony).
The Federal Government provides the largest share of its culture expenditure on cultural foreign affairs, 35.8%. Expenditure on museums, collections and exhibitions ranked second with 21.5 % and expenditure on libraries third with 20.6 % within federal cultural expenditure.
Public budgets provided a total of 3.7 million EUR for the theatre and music sector. Compared to 2014, public spending increased by 1.6 % and compared to 2005 by 25.5 %. For libraries, public spending in 2015 amounted to 1.5 billion EUR. Compared to 2014, public spending rose by 2.7 %, and compared to 2005, it increased by 26.6 %. In 2015, the federal, state and local governments provided a total of 1.9 billion EUR for museums, collections and exhibitions. Compared to 2014, public expenditure for this area of responsibility decreased by 0.1 %, and compared to 2005, expenditure increased by 31.5 %.
Further information on the individual divisions can be
found in the divisional reports prepared in the project Nationwide Cultural
Statistics. So far, the Divisional Reports Music (Spartenbericht
Musik) (2016), Museums, Libraries and Archives (2017), Building
Culture, Monument Conservation and Preservation (2018) and Film,
Television and Radio (2019) have been published. Further sectoral
reports will follow.
 All sector reports are available via https://www.destatis.de/DE/Themen/Gesellschaft-Umwelt/Bildung-Forschung-Kultur/Kultur/Publikationen/_publikationen-innen-spartenberichte.html (Last access: 12.11.2019).
Last update: March, 2020
The promotion of artistic production and reception is achieved on the one hand by funding the cultural institutions and on the other hand by creating art-friendly conditions. This also includes the provision of basic and advanced artistic training, primarily through 52 music, theatre and art colleges and four federal academies.
The Federal Government's cultural funding focuses on the following areas of responsibility: national, establishing a regulatory framework for the development of art and culture, funding cultural institutions of national interest (e.g. the National Library, the Federal Archives, the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) and projects, preserving and protecting cultural heritage, cultural foreign policy (e.g. Deutsche Welle), fostering historical awareness and promoting Berlin as a capital city (Capital City Funding Agreement).
The area of focus at federal level include cultural integration, protection of cultural assets, the return of Nazi looted art and looted art, the cultural and creative industries, provenance research, reappraisal of the Nazi regime of terror and the SED dictatorship, art in exile, digitalisation of culture and media and currently also the Bauhaus, the Humboldt Forum opening in 2020 and the Beethoven Jubilee 2020.
Other central funding instruments of the federal, state and local governments include specific programmes - in accordance with their responsibilities. Examples of programmes at federal level are: Nationally valuable cultural monuments (since 1950, until 2017 670 cultural monuments with a total volume of approx. 367 million EUR could be preserved and restored), investments for national cultural institutions in East Germany (since 2004, until 2017 approx. 83 million EUR), Initiative Music (since 2007), German Motion Picture Fund (since 2016, until 2018 approx. 36 million EUR), National Prevention Programme against Islamist Extremism (since 2017), Excellent Orchestra Landscape Germany (since 2017, until the end of 2019 approx. 11 million EUR), Preservation of the written cultural heritage (since 2017, until November 2019 approx. 11 million EUR), Youth reminds (since 2019, 2.5 million EUR are available for 2019 and 2020).
At the federal level, support for artists is provided primarily through the self-organised institutions of artists and cultural actors - the Art Fund, the German Literature Fund, the Socio-Cultural Fund, the Performing Arts Fund and the projects supported by the German Music Council. This support includes, for example, nationally significant exhibitions of contemporary art, competitions, scholarships, prizes and other suitable forms.
One of the central actors in federal cultural promotion is the Federal Cultural Foundation (Bundeskulturstiftung). Its task is to promote programmes and projects in an international context. In addition to general project funding, which is not restricted to specific sectors or themes, the Federal Cultural Foundation develops its own programmes, currently for example "hochdrei" to strengthen district libraries and the World-Cinema Fund with support for the production and distribution of films that enrich the cinema landscape in Germany. Other programmes include TRAFO - Models for Culture in Transition, which promotes the "sustainable transformation of publicly funded cultural institutions into lively cultural and meeting places in rural regions" (since 2015, 11 model regions, 2015-2026: 26.5 million EUR). In addition, the Federal Cultural Foundation has set up a Digital Fund to encourage cultural institutions "to make better use of digital services in the areas of art, education and communication for the needs of the respective institutions or to develop them further as models".
Another promotion programme is Architectural Art (Kunst am Bau). This is understood to be an obligation, particularly on the part of the state as the building owner, to use a certain proportion - usually around 1 % - of the construction costs of public buildings for works of art, in line with its building culture requirements. This obligation is laid down by the Federal Government and the federal states in corresponding regulations. Some cities (e.g. Munich and Dresden) have adopted this obligation at the municipal level.
In recent years, special programmes have been set up in some areas. These included numerous programmes at federal, state and municipal level for work with refugees.
Specific anniversaries have also been the occasion for promotion programmes, such as the Reformation Anniversary in 2017, the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus in 2019.
individual art / artist promotion is also particularly important for the
various sectors. Special support for companies, start-ups, self-employed and
freelancers in the cultural and creative industries is provided by the Federal
Government with the Competence Centre for Cultural and Creative Industries. The
centre has eight regional offices where it offers individual services and
 For example, in the guidelines for the execution of federal construction tasks (status: 5.8.2019).
Last update: March, 2020
The promotion of individual artists is primarily the responsibility of the federal states and local authorities. The Federal Government's promotion of artists - in addition to the benefits for the social insurance for artists and indirectly through the funding of cultural institutions - takes place, for example, through the funding of stays abroad by artists living in Germany: in Italy (German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome, Casa Baldi in Olevano Romano, German Study Centre in Venice and Villa Romana in Florence), in France (Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris) and in Turkey (Villa Tarabya in Istanbul). In addition, since the seventies there has been a national acquisitions budget and a collection of contemporary art.
The focus of individual artist promotion is on the municipalities, regions, and federal states. There is a great variety of funding instruments available here: among other things, financial funding for art projects, the purchase of works of art, as well as the awarding of commissions and scholarships, the funding of exhibition and performance spaces, studios and production facilities, the announcement of competitions and sponsorship prizes, and the awarding of publication grants. Support is also provided by municipal art libraries and programmes such as Art in Buildings and Art in Public Spaces, and by business management advice for artists and financial support for business start-ups.
An example of individual support for artists is the funding programme for artists in the Ruhr area, which is open to all artistic professions and disciplines such as the fine arts, literature, music, performing arts, film, media art, architecture or design. It consists of twelve-month scholarships (1,500 euros per month) and a “fire brigade pot” (for small projects and distributions in case of financial shortages). Since its inception in 2016, the programme has supported more than 200 projects to the tune of around 2.1 million EUR with funds from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Last update: March, 2020
Scholarships and prizes are instruments of individual support for artists, which are awarded by public authorities at municipal, state and federal level as well as by private and civil society organisations.
The web portal Kulturpreise Online provides information on cultural funding, especially for individual support for artists in the form of prizes and scholarships.
Culture and art awards are a particularly important funding instrument that has grown in scope and importance in recent decades. In 1978, the Handbook of Cultural Prizes (Handbuch der Kulturpreise) listed 776 prizes and scholarships; by 1985 the number had risen to 1,329; in 1994 the figure was just under 2,000 entries; in 2000 there were 2,400 prizes with 3,100 price units. In the current version (as of April 2019) 2,661 main prize entries with 4,403 price units were listed. Of these 2,661 main prize entries, 405 were in the field of literature, followed by interdisciplinary prizes (391), visual arts (364), music (301), media and journalism (301), film (181), design / photography / arts and crafts (140), architecture / heritage conservation (124), performing arts (120) and other prizes (334). Compared to the prize landscape in 2000, the number of prices increased most in percentage terms in the areas of “other cultural prices”, media and journalism, film, visual arts, architecture and the preservation of historical monuments, whereas the areas of music and performing arts recorded a decrease in prizes.
Some prizes at federal level are mentioned
here as examples: German Film Prize (since 1951, formerly: Federal Film Prize),
Cultural Education Prize (since 2009), German Computer Game Prize (since 2009),
German Music Author Prize (since 2009), Applause - Award for venues with
outstanding live music programmes (since 2013), Culture Opens Worlds (since
2015), Federal Theatre Prize (since 2015), German Bookstore Prize (since 2015),
German Publishing Prize (since 2019). There are also numerous prizes and
scholarships at state and local government level.
 Wiesand, Andreas (2019): Entwicklung der Kultur- und Literaturpreise seit 1978.
Last update: March, 2020
In addition to the support provided via artists associations, funds are made available to bodies such as the German Arts Council, the German Music Council and two Federal associations of visual artists. A portion of these funds are earmarked to assist these associations as well as to support individual projects.
Last update: March, 2020
Cultural institutions, events and projects are also financed by private households, the business community, foundations and other private non-profit organisations, in some areas to a considerable extent. Reliable statistics on private cultural funding are unfortunately not available in Germany. In its Kulturfinanzbe-richt 2018, the Federal Statistical Office provides an estimate for a small section of private cultural financing, namely private expenditure on publicly subsidised cultural institutions in 2015, which amounted to 1.2 billion EUR, or 15.11 EUR per capita. In addition, public and private cultural institutions generate income through patronage and sponsorship. They also benefit from voluntary civil society commitment, the value of which cannot be quantified. Furthermore, this estimate does not take into account cultural institutions that are financed entirely by private means (e.g. musical theatres, rock concerts, circuses and other cultural industry enterprises).
The study Unternehmerische Kulturförderung, published in autumn 2019 by the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft in the BDI, offers an insight into corporate cultural promotion in Germany. The study, which is based on a survey of companies, nevertheless provides insights into the motivation for promoting culture, the cultural sectors supported, models and forms of cultural promotion and promotional instruments – although it also states that there is still no reliable database on the total amount of private expenditure on the promotion of art and culture in Germany.
Only a few of the funding actors report their
data, such as the Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung, a cultural foundation and a
joint venture of all member savings banks of the East German Savings Banks
Association (of the federal states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western
Pomerania, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt). It promotes and initiates cultural
projects in urban and especially rural areas.
 Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI (Hrsg.) / Siebenhaar, Klaus / Müller, Achim (2019): Unternehmerische Kulturförderung in Deutschland, Berlin: Self-published.