According to the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany, the responsibility for legislation relating to cultural affairs and the administration thereof rests with the Länder (this reflects the “cultural sovereignty” of the federal states). In Berlin this is performed by the Senate as the government of the city-state. The constitution of Berlin stipulates that the “Federal State of Berlin shall protect and promote cultural life” (Article 20).
While this expression of political intent does not of itself necessitate the preservation or establishment of any particular cultural institutions, it does provide a clear mandate for the state’s activities in matters of cultural policy. To this end the state government works together with the twelve boroughs of Berlin and diverse sponsors and stakeholders within civil society. In light of Berlin’s important role as the capital of Germany and its historical role as the former capital of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and two dictatorships, the federal government has in recent years emerged as a major player in public sector cultural funding in Berlin.