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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


8. Creativity and Culture

8.2 Administration and governance

On this page
  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectorial cooperation


Main actors

As culture in Germany is the responsibility of the federal states, there is no national ministry of culture. The federal government’s (Bundesregierung) culture policy is coordinated by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (Staatsministerin für Kultur und Medien), who reports directly to the Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzlerin). The Commissioner’s role includes ensuring the provision of funding to nationally relevant cultural institutions and projects. The Commissioner’s reach is limited given that the Federal Government lacks genuine power in the field of culture. Instead, responsibility for cultural policy lies to some extent with the federal states (Länder), which have cultural sovereignty or “Kulturhoheit”, but mainly with local communities (Kommunen). The Länder each maintain a competent ministry to this end; at the local level, the municipalities exercise this function via their respective cultural authority (Kulturamt).  

Child and youth services at national (Bund) and federal state (Länder) level

The federal government and the federal states have the power to make suggestions and provide funding in the field of child and youth services. The supreme federal agency in this field (Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth [Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ]) makes general suggestions on the development of child and youth services and specific suggestions on individual areas with independent conferences, publications on specialist issues, statements and responses to parliamentary enquiries. With respect to current issues in child and youth services, in each legislative period the BMFSFJ commissions expert reports on the services provided by child and youth services (child and youth reports [Kinder- und Jugendberichte]). The Federal Youth Advisory Board (Bundesjugendkuratorium) is an expert panel that provides advice on all relevant youth policy issues, for example in the form of statements. Working groups for the various areas covered by the work of child and youth services exist at federal (national) level in which the BMFSFJ works together with child and youth service organisations. The Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes) co-finances the national infrastructure of child and youth services in Germany (mainly associations and professional bodies), funds pilot projects and supports international youth exchange and volunteer programmes.

Representatives of cultural youth education at national level (Bund)

The umbrella associations for cultural education represent the interests of their members – organisations, institutions, associations and individuals active in the field. They advise administrations and policymakers, promote new issues and debates, and offer a platform for political and professional innovations. The most prominent among them are given below:

  • The German Federation for Cultural Youth Education (Bundesvereinigung Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung, BKJ) is the umbrella association for cultural education for children and young people in Germany. It is an alliance of 56 national formal and non-formal educational institutions, professional bodies and state-level umbrella organisations for cultural education. Its member organisations represent various different genres of the arts and culture, as well as cultural education action areas. Its scope extends beyond the child and youth services field and its organisational structures and overlaps in particular with cultural and educational policy.
  • The German Cultural Council (Deutscher Kulturrat e. V.) is the umbrella association of 246 cultural associations and organisations in Germany. It functions as the port of call for policymakers and administrators at national, federal-state (Länder) and European Union level in all cultural policy matters that relate to the German Cultural Council’s departments (Sektionen).  The German Cultural Council also represents the educational mandate of the cultural institutions.  
Child and youth services at state level (Länder)  

The state ministry responsible for youth policy matters (implementation acts to the Child and Youth Services Act [Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz, KJHG], state youth plans [Landesjugendpläne] to finance child and youth services) is the supreme youth authority in each of the 16 federal states (e.g., Brandenburg Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport [Ministerium für Bildung, Jugend und Sport in Brandenburg], North Rhine-Westphalia State Ministry for Family, Children, Refugees and Integration [Ministerium für Kinder, Familie, Flüchtlinge und Integration des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen] or the Bavarian State Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Affairs [Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Familie, Arbeit und Soziales]).

In the federal states (Länder) there are 17 higher-level youth offices (Landesjugendämter), one in each federal state except in North Rhine-Westphalia, where there are two. These youth offices function as supra-regional child and youth service organisations in accordance with Book VIII of the Social Code (SGB VIII). They support the regional child and youth services (youth offices, independent organisations) and serve the interests of children, young people and their families. They focus in particular on establishing and maintaining child- and family-friendly living conditions. In conjunction with all youth welfare organisations. The higher-level youth offices see themselves as liaisons between local youth offices, independent organisations and the ministry responsible for youth on state level. The state-level youth office has a two-part structure made up of administration (Verwaltung) and the state youth services committee (Landesjugendhilfeausschuss). They perform their duties jointly. The mandate of the state-level youth offices is specified in Article 85 (2) of SGB VIII.

Cultural school education at federal state (Länder) level

In Germany, the federal states are responsible for the school system. The responsible state ministry is the supreme education authority. The states set curriculum standards and special regulations – for example on cooperation with external partners – on the basis of the respective state education laws. In many federal states, administrative tasks of the state ministries are delegated to what are known as intermediate authorities (Mittelbehörden) (the competent regional administration deaneries, or Dekanate).

Child and youth services at community level

About 600 towns/cities and districts in Germany operate a youth office (Jugendamt), a local authority as part of local self-government. The youth offices take overall responsibility for local child and youth services. This also includes the obligation to provide medium-term child and youth service plans and to fund activities for children, young people and families in districts of towns and cities and in villages. 

The youth office assists parents and guardians in raising, caring for and educating children and young people. It focusses on preventive, family-based services that help to create positive living conditions for families. Its tasks range from organising high-quality childcare to parent counselling and protecting the best interests of the child, to funding youth work and establishing a child- and family-friendly environment. The youth office is open to anyone who is having problems or in an emergency, especially children and young people.

In accordance with Article 74 of Book VIII of the Social Code (SGB VIII), independent child and youth service organisations are also funded on condition that the organisation fulfils specific obligations, which include meeting the professional requirements for the programme planned, guaranteeing compliance with the principles and standards of quality development and quality assurance in accordance with Article 79a, having charitable status and ensuring that their work supports the objectives of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz). In accordance with Article 78 SGB VIII, public youth offices work on task forces with recognised independent youth service organisations and providers of funded programmes. The aim of the task forces is to ensure that planned measures are coordinated and complementary.


Regardless of the level of public interest in cultural education, to date there has been no systematic monitoring of cultural education for children and young people and no public report at a federal (national) level. No representative, national, qualitative surveys exist on participation by young people in cultural activities. Nor is there any reliable data on cultural education in schools and child and youth services or the sub-area of youth work/cultural youth education. This is partly down to the extent of the responsibilities of the federal states in formal education and the fact that responsibility is mainly at a community level, as well as the participatory structure of the child and youth services system. There are no comprehensive statistics from official sources or socio-scientific surveys for either area.

In 2010 researchers formed a network for cultural education research (Netzwerk Forschung Kulturelle Bildung) in an effort to bring together research activities in this field, promote an interdisciplinary dialogue on theories, challenges and research methods in cultural education, and support young researchers.

General distribution of responsibilities For information on the structure and responsibilities, see “Main actors”.


Cross-sectorial cooperation

Policymakers and administrations at the federal (Bund), state (Länder) and local (Kommune) level frequently call for greater cross-sectoral cooperation in order to bring about more cultural child and youth education. However, implementation depends on the political objectives and opportunities that exist at the time. At federal level, the only possible framework for cross-sectoral cooperation is that of the national youth strategy (nationale Jugendstrategie), the implementation of which is supported by an advisory board (see 8.3). A cross-sectoral working group at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) is composed of representatives of various youth work organisations and providers who, along with Ministry representatives, discuss shared concerns. Cultural child and youth education organisations are also represented here.

Some federal states have adopted concepts to enable cross-sectoral support for cultural child and youth education. Examples include:

  • Baden-Württemberg: In a move to analyse the situation and identify room for improvement, Baden-Württemberg’s government set up an advisory body for cultural education (Fachbeirat für Kulturelle Bildung) on 7 February 2011. It is composed of policymakers, representatives of cultural organisations, independent artists with experience of cultural education and representatives of the cultural field and schools. Led by the Ministry of the Arts (Kunstministerium) and with the involvement of the Ministry of Education (Kultusministerium) and the parliamentary parties in the state parliament (Landtagsfraktionen), the advisory body analysed the status quo and drew up recommendations. Its report, entitled Recommendations on cultural education (Empfehlungen zur kulturellen Bildung), was finalised in November 2013. It identifies objectives and measures relating to the further development of cultural education in educational, arts and cultural institutions and other cultural education providers across the state. In particular, it recommends strengthening local partnerships between schools and cultural institutions. The recommendations are designed to be integrated in current educational and cultural policy decision-making and perspectives. The advisory body has since been given a permanent mandate.
  • Saxony: A state-wide concept for cultural child and youth education for the Free State of Saxony (Landesweite Konzept Kulturelle Kinder- und Jugendbildung für den Freistaat Sachsen) was adopted by the state government in October 2018. It contains concepts and strategies to promote the continued development of cultural child and youth education. Led by the State Ministry of Science and Cultural Affairs of Saxony (Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst), the concept was drawn up by an interministerial working group involving the State Ministries of Education (Staatsministerium für Kultus) and Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (Soziales und Verbraucherschutz) and the Office of the Minister of State for Equality and Integration (Geschäftsbereich der Staatsministerin für Gleichstellung und Integration). The process involved a large number of cultural institutions and organisations, competent umbrella associations and other cultural education partners as well as children and adolescents. Many of their ideas, opinions and suggestions were incorporated in the concept.

A special type of cooperation takes place mainly at a community level. This refers to collaboration between the culture, youth service and school committees, the city council and the relevant administration bodies (youth office, cultural office, school administration office). On 9 November 2012, the Association of German Cities (Deutscher Städtetag) supported this development with its “Munich Statement” (Münchner Erklärung) and advocated the further development of community education landscapes and the “networking of educational stakeholders in communities of responsibility”. This resulted in general community concepts on cultural education being proposed, which were supported and evaluated by the federal states.