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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.5 Developing cultural and creative competences

Last update: 28 November 2023

Acquiring cultural and creative competences through education and training

In Austria, schools are engaged with awakening students' interest into arts and culture and their creative potential. This aim is promoted through structural and institutional support.

Guideline Decree for a holistic-creative learning culture in schools (Ganzheitlich-kreative Lernkultur in den Schulen, BMUKK-10.077/0004-I/4/2009)

The guideline decree for a holistic-creative learning culture in schools has been issued in 2009 and establishes creativity as a teaching principle. Creativity is an interdisciplinary and fundamental principle of the education system that is not limited to certain teaching subjects. It is of great importance to personal, social, cultural and economic circumstances. The development and support of creative abilities are essential factors for the competent coping with future questions.

At any time, school should be a place of curiosity, questioning and learning for teachers and students alike. More than an individual attitude, creativity develops from cooperation and communication and is a key to innovation. Thus, critical distance and the constructive handling of differences and contradictions also promote an open and participatory learning culture. Creativity is also a basic competence for interaction and communication within heterogeneous groups. The promotion of creativity, critical faculties and the ability to work in a team is an important task for the entire education system.

Creativity in schools shall be fostered through a positive and appreciative working environment, team work tasks, presentations, innovation, interlinked learning fields (e.g. environment) and process-oriented, independent learning.


Shaping Democracy and society through Cultural Education

In a democratic and pluralistic society, it is important to help children and young people develop a responsible, self-reflecting, open and community-oriented outlook, and to give them opportunities to actively participate in societal processes. Therefore, the Austrian Academic Service (Agentur für Bildung und Internationalisierung, OEAD) runs the project 'Cultural education with schools' (Kulturvermittlung mit Schulen - previosly called KulturKontakt Austria).

On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport(Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, Öffentlicher Dienst und Sport), the project works at the interface between schools, the arts and culture. Participatory cultural education projects and activities with schools throughout Austria are conceived, accompanied, and supported. The focus lies on encouraging children and young people to actively participate in artistic and cultural processes and to foster their competences.

Cooperations with artists, cultural professionals and artistic and cultural institutions enhance the experience. Engaging in direct encounters with artists gives young people new ways of becoming involved in the arts and culture and fosters participation in societal processes and equal opportunities. Alongside these activities, the OEAD engages in exchange and networking in this field at European level.


  • Promoting the active and broad involvement of children and young people in various forms of contemporary art and culture. This shall also provide a constructive approach in dealing with diversity and differences in society
  • Supporting collective and individual learning and teaching processes of pupils, teachers, artists and cultural educators, also in terms of a new learning culture at schools
  • Ensuring the quality and sustainability of communication between cultural institutions, artists and young people
  • European developments in and discourses on cultural education


  • Advice for teachers, artists, cultural educators and institutions of the arts and culture
  • Financial support for cultural education activities at schools (e.g. programmes for cooperation with artists in the classroom, exposure of apprentices to art and culture, cooperation between schools and cultural institutions)
  • Funding of up to 2,600 workshops per year ("Dialogue Events" programme)
  • Setting impulses in cultural school development

As a state-owned non-profit committed to the common good, the OeAD is funded by public sources. Its total budget for 2019 amounted to € 72 million, most of which were available for scholarship and grant programmes. Its shareholder is the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. KulturKontakt Austria, which ran the programmes 'cultural education in schools' and the 'educational cooperation in the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe' until their integration into the OeAD in 2020, had an annual budget of around € 5.6 million euros.

Austria reads. Meeting point library (Österreich liest. Treffpunkt Bibliothek)

'Austria reads' is the largest literature festival in Austria and is held every year. Austrian libraries  organise a colourful selection of events for every age group: book presentations, literature walks, picture book cinemas, book flea markets, readings and much more. Libraries of all kinds - from small libraries to the national library - offer a diverse programme to whet the appetite for reading.

This initiative is organised by the Austrian library association (Büchereiverband Österreichs, BVÖ) and funded by the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport(Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, Öffentlicher Dienst und Sport). In the framework of this initiative, the first action library slam took place. Well-known Austrian poetry slammers have been invited to moderate the event, at which poets of all genres and age groups were able to prove their talents. Participants could improve their presentation skills and fine-tune their texts.

Cultural and architectural school, Tyrol (Kunst- und Architekturschule, Innsbruck)

In Innsbruck (province of Tyrol), the culture and architecture school (Kunst- und Architekturschule) provides extracurricular workshops for young people and has a special programme for schools and kindergartens. The venue is a place of creativity for young people. The school is jointly funded by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Federal Chancellery, the federal province of Tyrol and the City of Innsbruck.

wienXtra‐medienzentrum for young people and Video and Film Days (video&filmtage)

The wienXtra‐medienzentrum (Viennese Media Centre) invites youth to experiment with media. It offers equipment rental, studio, editing suites, workshops, and advice. The services and facilities are free of charge for young people up to the age of 22. The centre is maintained by the City of Vienna and works in close cooperation with the Youth Department Vienna.

The City of Vienna and the wienXtra youth information center, also organise the Film Days festival. It's a platform to meet people interested in film, to watch movies by young people and to discuss with the movie makers and the audience.

Non-formal learning-grants to associations for developing young people’s creativity

A number of provincial grants support private associations in fostering the creativity of young people and their involvement with arts and culture, such as e.g.:

  • COME ON! (Link in German only)is an initiative by the province of Lower Austria to promote cultural youth initiatives. It aims to promote young artists and cultural workers and to support them in realising their artistic ideas. It disburses around € 300,000 a year.
  • Contemporary culture funding (Förderung im Bereich der Zeitkultur) is provided to associations, institutions, cultural venues and cultural practitioners in the province of Upper Austria who offer a predominantly cultural and artistic annual programme or implement contemporary cultural projects. The programme aims for an enrichment of the cultural offer outside the urban agglomeration areas as well as independent, experimental and contemporary programming and sets a programmatic focus on youth work and outreach.  

  • Lower Austrian Creativity Promotion (Niederösterreichische Kreativitätsförderung) creates an extracurricular free space in which children and young people can develop their creative talents. As a subsidiary of Kultur.Region.Niederösterreich, the Lower Austrian Academy of Creative Arts, the Lower Austrian Academy for the Gifted and the Lower Austrian School of Music and Art have established a tightly knit network of creativity promotion throughout the province, whose range of offers is as broad as the creative potential of young people.

  • Promotion of youth culture (Förderung der Jugendkultur) in the province of Burgenland provides funding for youth initiatives, activities of youth organisations, and projects by young people in all artistic disciplines.

  • Promotion of youth cultural work (Förderung der Jugendkulturarbeit) in the province of Tyrol provides funding for measures, projects and framework conditions that contribute to young people becoming active in the cultural field. Young artists and cultural workers are promoted and supported in realising their innovative artistic ideas. Young people are also supported on their way to (semi-)professionalism. Funding is provided for training measures that contribute to the improvement of cultural activities, provided that they are not offered by formal training providers. The target group for this funding are youths and young adults who want to engage in cultural activities and organisations/associations in the field of extracurricular youth work that take measures to promote culture among young people.

  • Youth project funding (Jugendprojektförderung) in the province of Vorarlberg is directed at private sponsors, private individuals and municipalities. It is a framework of funding, actions, projects and programmes that inter alia promotes cultural activities for children and young people. This includes, for example, the promotion of education in extracurricular youth work.

Media literacy and safe use of new media

Training young people in media literacy and the safe use of new media also helps to develop their cultural and creative competences. The measures thereby taken in Austria are depicted in the Austrian Youth Wiki Chapter 6.8.

Specialised training for professionals in the education, culture and youth fields

Cultural Professionals’ Services for Schools

The cost-free service platform by the OEAD (formerly run by KulturKontakt Austria) provides information and service on how teachers can find cultural professionals located in their area with whom they and their pupils can work in class. Artists of various fields as well as cultural educators can present descriptions of their workshops and other educational services for schools there.

Through this platform, the OEAD provides:

  • A presentation platform for cultural professionals (artists as well as cultural educators) who work in the school environment
  • a networking instrument for teachers and cultural professionals
  • a pool of ideas for cultural education activities for schools
  • a better overview of services offered by cultural professionals for the school context
  • support for cultural professionals in establishing contact with schools
  • projects covering the idea of "Creating democracy and society through cultural education"

Cultural professionals who wish to present themselves and their services for pupils can enter their data into the database. Teachers who wish to integrate services offered by cultural professionals into their class work can search for them on this platform. New contacts can be made and existing relationships intensified.The platform is a continuously growing network and contains educational services offered by cultural professionals of all fields throghout Austria, that are specially designed for pupils of various age groups.

Workshop series 'Culture politics international'

Since 2011, the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport organises the workshop series 'Culture politics international' on cultural-political topics at EU-level. This enables discussions on the newest developments, especially the work of EU-expert groups, with stakeholders from the cultural sector on a regular basis. Most recent topics (2019) were 'Climate Change' (Kultur Politik International: Klimawandel) and 'Arts for Health' (Kultur Politik International: Arts for Health).

Kunsthistorisches Museum and Belvedere Museum: multiplier programmes

The Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (KHM) provides special programmes for potential multipliers. Teacher tours for special exhibitions are offered and one-day seminars on general methods of museum art education for students of the teacher training college Vienna are held. Weekend seminars are provided for teachers and headmasters.

At the Belvedere Museum Wien, regular information tours and training workshops are provided for pedagogues (Pädagog_innen-Info für die Sekundarstufe I+II). Moreover, offers on didactic sections are constantly developed in close collaboration with teachers from various school types.

As federal museums, these institutions receive their their funding through a basic compensation by the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport(Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, Öffentlicher Dienst und Sport). In 2019, according to the Federal Arts and Culture report 2019 (Kunst- und Kulturbericht) the Federal Ministry paid a basic compensation of € 87,062,500 to the Federal Museums, of which the KHM received 23.842 thousand euros and the Belvedere 8.970 thousand euros.

Providing quality access to creative environments

Free admission up to 19 ('Freier Eintritt bis 19')

With the initiative “Freier Eintritt bis 19" (free admission up to 19), the eight Austrian federal museums open their gates to children and young people. Young people have free access to Austria's biggest cultural treasures. According to the Arts and Culture Report 2019 (Kunst- und Kulturbericht 2019), curated by the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport (Bundesministerium für Kunst, Kultur, öffentlicher Dienst und Sport), more than 10 million children and adolescents made use of this offer since its start in 2010. In 2019, 1.312.904 young people of this age group (of which 557.925 or 42% Austrian) were reached with the offer.

MuseumsQuartier Wien (MQ)

With about 70 cultural facilities, the MuseumsQuartier Wien is one of the largest art and culture complexes worldwide. The many courtyards, ­cafés, and shops throughout the complex lend it the additional quality of being an urban living room and an oasis of calm and recreation in the City of Vienna. Historic buildings from the 18th and 19th century and contemporary museums form a unique architectural ensemble and create a special ambiance. At the MQ Wien, the production and experience of art form an inseparable whole with recreation and relaxation.

Q21 is part of the MQ and provides workspace for around 50 initiatives, organizations, agencies and editorial offices working in the cultural sector. This creative space is spread across over 7,000 sqm within the MQ. Several of the Artists-in-Residence are represented with their works in the Q21 exhibition space (frei_raum Q21 exhibition space).

International Heritage Photographic Experience – IHPE

Austria participates at the IHPE, which takes place under the patronage of the Council of Europe. Children and young people up to the age of 20 are invited to post their pictures under the hashtag #ihpe19austria and the motto 'monument' on Instagram.

Steirischer Herbst - Festival of new art

steirischer herbst has re-invented itself many times in its history – an amorphous institution in progress that poses the question as to its conditions and necessities as a very individual platform for new art every year. As a festival, steirischer herbst is special in many respects: by dint of its many voices, its promotion of communication between the various disciplines of art, thanks to the link-up of aesthetic positions and theoretical discourse. Its clear-cut positioning as a festival of production and processes, of facilitation and initiation is special as well – and increasingly necessary in the international politico-cultural situation. The incorporation and networking of both international and regional artists, scenes and contexts is a central issue – steirischer herbst did, after all, emerge from an initiative of local scenes, on the one hand, and has taken productive advantage of its proximity to Slovenia, Croatia and the Central and Eastern European regions (long before the opening of most borders), on the other.‘ In 2020, Steirischer Herbst has overcome the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by holding an innovative online festival entitled Paranoia TV.

Wiener Festwochen

‘Historically, the Wiener Festwochen have defined themselves as a festival for high culture, subculture, and counterculture, combining music theatre, theatre, fine arts, performance, dance, music, installation, discourse, participation, workshops, and new art forms that cannot yet be categorised. Thus, the festival will not pause at genre boundaries.’