Localizing cultural infrastructures

Rural cultural development through flagship infrastructure?

If commentators have already stated a profound crisis in the provision of rural social and cultural infrastructures before the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation is even more tense after curfews have resulted in further restrictions on services. To meet these challenges, the German government and most of the federal states have launched policies and temporary funding programmes to strengthen socio-cultural infrastructures especially in rural areas. These schemes usually provide support to promote the most ‘creative ideas’ for a vibrant local culture, to stimulate multi-actor networks and to initiate ‘progressive’ reorganisation of remaining infrastructures. In contrast to such project-based, competitive and impermanent approaches to cultural governance the establishment of new amenities is a rarity. However, as individual examples of concert halls and art museums show, there are recent efforts to offer cultural services through flagship facilities also in rural areas.

Using the example of the TauberPhilharmonie, a concert and event hall that opened in 2019 in the small rural town of Weikersheim in southern Germany, we aim at mapping and evaluating shifting discourses and networks of establishing and running such infrastructures. We specifically focus on:

  • Location choice and funding of cultural lighthouse projects in rural areas
  • The insitution's regional socio-cultural impact
  • Dimensions of embeddesness



Mager, C.; Wagner, M. (2023): Sicherung der Daseinsvorsorge durch kulturelle Großprojekte? Kulturelle Entwicklung im ländlichen Raum am Beispiel der TauberPhilharmonie. Deutscher Kongress für Geographie 2023 "Planetary Futures", Frankfurt am Main, 22. September 2023. 

Mager, C.; Wagner, M. (2023): Rural cultural development through flagship infrastructure? The TauberPhilharmonie concert hall and the provision of public services of general interest. „Rural Geographies in Transition“, 3rd European Rural Geographies Conference, Groningen (Niederlande), 28. Juni 2023.

Mager, C.; Wagner, M. (2021): Geographies of everyday cultural (in)justice: mapping cultural infrastructures in rural areas in Germany. Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), Seattle (USA), Online-Konferenz, 07. bis 11. April 2021.

TauberPhilharmonie_web.jpg M. Wagner
TauberPhilharmonie concert and event hall in rural Weikersheim, southern Germany


Dr. Christoph Mager
Institut für Geographie und Geoökologie
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Kaiserstr. 12, 76131 Karlsruhe
Fon: +49(0)721 608 43838


M.Sc. Madeleine Wagner
Institut für Geographie und Geoökologie
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)
Kaiserstr. 12, 76131 Karlsruhe

Fon: +49(0)721 608 43488


Site under construction

Festivals as infrastructures in public space

Festival M. Müller-Gmelin
Festival flags
Festival M. Müller-Gmelin
Festival im Karlsruher Tollhaus

Urban planning and the multi-scalar challenges of locating cultural infrastructures

In the last 40 years, alternative cultural institutions have been founded in many cities as a local response to the social and urban crises of the post-war years. Originally started as grassroots movements, these institutions now play an important role in the local cultural landscape of many cities. The infrastructures provide accessible and permanent spaces for conviviality, cultural empowerment and the negotiation of community concerns.

Using the example of the Karlstorbahnhof, a socio-cultural centre in the of Heidelberg, Germany, we seek to understand the evolving ways political and social relations are formed, negotiated and challenged through cultural infrastructures. By analysing newspaper coverage, policy documents and interviews with stakeholders from urban planning, city administration, community work and resident populations, we map and evaluate shifting planning discourses and forms of embeddedness in the processes of de- and re-localisation.



Mager, C.; Wagner, M. (2022): A "motor" for the neighbourhood? Urban planning and the challenges of relocating cultural infrastructures. In: Urban Planning 7(4), 470-485.

Mager, C. (2000): Kommunale Kulturpolitik und lokale Kulturarbeit. Dynamik und Entwicklungen des soziokulturellen Zentrums ‚Karlstorbahnhof‘ in Heidelberg. In: Journal der Heidelberger Geographischen Gesellschaft (HGG-Journal) 15, 164-183.


Der Karlstorbahnhof in der Heidelberger Altstadt, 2001 U. Förster
Das Kulturhaus Karlstorbahnhof in der Heidelberger Altstadt, 2001
M. Wagner
Der neue Standort des Karlstorbahnhofs: Arbeiten zum Umbau der ehemalige Kutschenhalle auf dem Gelände der Campbell Baracks in der Heidelberger Südstadt

Locational patterns of cultural infrastructures

Data on cultural institutions in Germany are characterised by a high degree of heterogeneity in terms of availability and analytical comparability. Against the backdrop of ongoing discussions about equitable socio-spatial services of general interest, there is a lack of quantifiable and qualifiable bases that go beyond the provision of technical facilities to focus on those offerings that make everyday social life possible, including educational and cultural facilities. Our aim is to comprehensively map and analyse the location structures of cultural infrastructures in Germany.



Mager, C., Wagner, M. (2022): Kulturelle Infrastrukturen in deutschen Klein- und Mittelstädten. Eine Typisierung der Standortgemeinschaften von Einrichtungen der kulturellen Daseinsvorsorge. In: Raumforschung und Raumordnung | Spatial Planning and Research 80(4), 379-396.

Wagner, M., Mager, C. (2021): Kleine Städte, k(l)eine kulturelle Ausstattung? In: Nationalatlas aktuell 15 [10.2021] 6.

Mager, C.; Freytag, T.; Hoyler, M. (2018): Soziokulturelle Einrichtungen in Deutschland – zeitliche Dynamik und räumliche Muster. In: Nationalatlas aktuell 12 [08.2018] 4.

Mager, C. (2017): Was liegt wo und weshalb? Standortstrukturen kultureller Einrichtungen in der Peripherie. In: KM Magazin - Kultur und Management im Dialog, Nr. 126 (September 2017), 7-10.

Mager, C. (2014): Alternative kulturelle Einrichtungen in deutschen Städten und Gemeinden – ein Beitrag zur Kritik ökonomischer Perspektiven auf Kreativräume. In: Raumforschung und Raumordnung 72(4), 477-489.

Freytag, T.; Hoyler, M.; Mager, C. (2002): Soziokultur und ihre Zentren. In: Institut für Länderkunde (Hrsg.): Nationalatlas Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Band 6: Bildung und Kultur. Heidel­berg, Berlin: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag. 118-119.