Support and Funding at the Federal Level

The art funding activities of the federal authorities are administered by the Arts and Culture Division of the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service an Sport Austria, which bases its decisions on input from independent advisory councils. In Austria, prime responsibility for the arts and culture resides with the Länder, while the federal level acts only under the subsidiary principle. The Federal Act on Art Funding adopted in 1988 regulates the art funding activities of the federal authorities. The law focuses on contemporary art and projects “of supra-regional interest or of an exemplary nature or of innovative character or that receive support within the context of a uniform funding programme.” In addition, there are a number of indirect support measures of a social or fiscal nature or relating to copyright legislation.

According to the federal art funding act, federal grants can go to artists for their work, for publication, presentation and documentation of works and the preservation of works and documents; funding may also go to institutions serving these objectives. The support may also take the form of providing studio space and art prizes. Art purchases do not constitute a genuine subsidy, because they involve compensation.

Issues of particular importance in the visual arts:

Resale Rights

If a work of art is sold at an auction house or on the art market at a profit, the artists (or their legal successors) should receive a share in the profit (EU directive 2001). The profit share is subject to a staggered regime between 4% and 0.25%, with a maximum compensation of EUR 12,500. As of 2012, the resale right also extends to works of art until 70 years after the artist’s death. In 2018, the EuGH passed the decision in which resale rights are not subject to VAT.

Art Purchases

This is particularly interesting for younger artists. Art purchases are a way for the federal authorities to document their interest in contemporary art production. Purchased works are administered by the federal Artothek and made available to federal offices and other public institutions. Occasionally, works held by the Artothek are loaned out to exhibitions or made available as permanent loans. Since 1981, photographic works have also been included in the purchases, giving rise to the most important national photographic collection in Austria. The collection is stored together with the collection of the Land of Salzburg under the name of Fotogalerie at the Museum der Moderne, and it is regularly part of presentations in Austria or abroad.

Gallery Subsidies

This represents an indirect support for artists, since having their work at a gallery facilitates access to a museum and, thus, heightened public attention. Selected federal and Länder museums receive subsidies for purchasing works by contemporary artists in Austrian galleries. Prerequisite: museums need to top up the subsidies of EUR 36,500 to a total of EUR 54,000 from their own funds.

Scholarships and Grants

The federal authorities grant funds to individuals in the form of working or travel grants designed to enable artists to stay abroad or help them over a phase of financial difficulties. Long-time grants are designed to help artists devote their attention to a project for a longer period. Start-out grants have been made available through calls for application since 2009: they include 10 grants each for the visual arts and architecture/design, five grants each for artistic photography and video and media art. The grant amount is EUR 7,800 for a term of six months.

International Studio Spaces

This is a special form of individual funding: the studios are made available to visual artists, photographers and video and media artists from Austria in combination with a grant upon proposal from a jury. Each year the Federal Ministry sends around 50 artists for a period of three to six months to the Republic’s eighteen foreign art studios. AWAY – a project around residencies illuminates the program since 2016 . (

Video and Media Art Funding

Grants for projects situated outside the bounds of established and academic disciplines and characterised by a high degree of diversity. These grants are given out to institutions such as the Ars Electronica Festival or regional institutions such as the Medienturm association at the Künstlerhaus Graz.


Collecting societies have the task of acting on behalf of authors when it comes to claiming, managing and collecting royalty payments and other compensation. The collecting society for the visual arts is called Bildrecht GmbH. It has partnerships with 30 international copyright societies. Apart from 2800 artists in Austria, it represents about 80,000 artists worldwide. The revenues from licensing and collective rights management are paid out in full to the copyright owners after deduction of administrative costs which amount to an average of 10%. In addition, Bildrecht supports artists who are in financial difficulties and young artists who are not yet established. They also make exhibition space available to the members free of charge. The activities of Bildrecht are subject to annual audits by several institutions.