Abstract: Volunteering plays a central role in cultural and arts education in rural areas in Germany. However, a decrease in the number of volunteers in structurally weak regions can be observed in recent years. This poses existential challenges for cultural and arts education. The promotion of social networks and regional cooperation, as well as a sense of place, can counteract this decline. This article aims to explore how sense of place influence cooperation and thus social networks between actors of different institutions in the context of cultural and arts education in rural areas. A total of 34 interviews and egocentric network maps were conducted with different local actors (e.g., volunteers in the theatre association, mayors, etc.) in four municipalities. The data were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Our results show that, through active participation in cultural events and associations, new cooperation is created and maintained, which also expands the social network. This active participation can be positively influenced by the existing attachment to the region and cultural places.
Keywords: cooperation; cultural and arts education; qualitative research; sense of place; social networks