Periodic Report Germany

Executive summary

The protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions constitutes the foundation of the cultural policies of the Federal Government, the Länder, and municipalities and local governments and are thus structurally imbedded in Germany’s system for promoting culture. Germany was among the initiators of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, so that these principles would also take root internationally. Through a constitutionally-enshrined cultural federalism, the Länder are responsible for cultural affairs (cultural sovereignty). Under Germany's constitution, the Länder, along with the municipalities and local governments, are responsible for supporting the arts and culture. The Federal Government has selected areas of competence stipulated by the Grundgesetz (the Basic Law, Germany’s constitution) or which arise from its obligation to represent the state as a whole. In addition, within the framework of its legislative powers, the Federal Government examines the impact of all new draft legislation on culture and cultural expressions into account (Kulturverträglichkeit).

Germany’s overarching cultural policy goal is to guarantee the free development of the arts and to facilitate access to arts and culture for all citizens. Underrepresented target groups and international cultural exchange are given special attention. The cross-cutting task of cultural education is considered a high priority by the Federal Government, the Länder and the municipalities and local governments. Germany today is home to many artists who are rooted both in German and in other cultures. They are bridge builders who contribute to intercultural dialogue. Numerous nongovernmental organisations, foundations, networks, artist associations and various intermediary organisations autonomously implement cooperation measures in Germany and abroad.

In addition to ensuring a favourable legal framework for the arts, culture and media, there is a wide range of programmes to promote the full spectrum of cultural expressions, from artistic creation and dissemination to cultural participation and awareness-raising. Cultural promotion is thereby acknowledged both as public support as well as an investment in the future. In 2007, public expenditure on promoting culture and the arts reached EUR 8.5 billion (USD 12.5 billion), a sum representing 1.67% of total public spending. Of this, 44.4% was apportioned by municipalities and local governments, 43% by the Länder and 12.6% by the Federal Government. Additional financing came from public and private foundations. Out of the various financing and support measures, the following have been selected as exemplary for their relevance for cultural diversity. In the field of music, the “creole” music competition (“creole” Wettbewerb) since 2006, the New Music Network (Netzwerk Neue Musik, 2008-2011) and the Music Initiative (Initiative Musik) for rock, pop and jazz since 2007 promote the diversity of cultural expressions as well as the work of individual artists. Germany is one of the countries with the highest number of translations from other languages in the world. In 2008, TRADUKI, the network for books and literature from South- East Europe, was founded with the goal of strengthening European and interregional information exchange through a translation programme.  

Along with measures at both Federal and Länder level to promote films, the German Federal Film Fund has provided an additional EUR 60 million (USD 88.5 million) each year since 2007. In order to preserve the diversity of the German film landscape, the Federal Government and the Länder have been funding the digitisation of smaller and less financially viable cinemas since 2011. Since 2003, the Berlinale Talent Campus has provided a forum for up–and-coming filmmakers, which has given rise to a vibrant worldwide network. The cultural and creative industries are among the fastest growing sectors in Germany with some 244,000 enterprises, a workforce of over one million and a turnover of around EUR 137 billion (USD 183 billion) in 2010. They make a great contribution to the diversity of Germany’s cultural landscape. 

Support for international cooperation in the arts, music, theatre, dance, literature and film sectors is a significant part of Germany’s cultural relations and education policy. In 2010, financial resources totalling EUR 1.513 billion (USD 2 billion) were made available by the Federal Government for cultural relations and education policy measures. Advanced training programmes for publishers and publishing professionals from the Arab world run by the Frankfurt Book Fair in conjunction with the Goethe-Institut since 2006 have been particularly successful. Also noteworthy are, Deutsche Welle’s online dialogue platform with the Arab world since 2003, and its Farsi-language online forum, launched in 2010. Over 240 million people around the world access Deutsche Welle via satellite and the Internet.  

The German Council for Sustainable Development included ‘cultural diversity and education for sustainable development’ along with ‘consumption and lifestyles in the context of a sustainable economy’ within its areas of focus for the first time during the period 2010-2013. In 2008/2009, the Federal Government and the Länder explored the working area ‘culture and development’. With its Culture and Development initiative launched in 2008, the Goethe- Institut uses consulting and education programmes to promote institutions and stakeholders from culture and the media, primarily in developing countries. This strengthens the integration of culture as the fourth pillar of sustainable development strategies.  

Artist mobility and exchange are promoted through artist residencies and fellowships from the municipalities, the Länder, the Federal Government and foundations. Within the context of the Berlinale, the World Cinema Fund (WCF) emerged as a link between feature films and co-production and distribution support, thus facilitating market access for creative artists from developing and emerging countries. The Frankfurt Book Fair’s invitation programme makes it easier for publishers from developing and emerging countries to access the market.  

With regard to the implementation of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, one of the challenges for cultural policy in Germany, particularly at Länder level, is to ensure the compatibility between public support schemes and competition regulations. It is therefore necessary to continually make all responsible actors aware of the Convention and to support its implementation through coherent and interministerial action.

Policy measures for the promotion of cultural diversity create a valuable basis for long-term partnerships and networks.