Germany has released a new bailout package of €130 billion, including €1 billion set aside for the culture industry.
The funds, which will be made available this year and next year, will be distributed between cinemas, music clubs, memorials, museums, theaters, and festivals. €250 million will go to help cultural institutions reopen with new hygiene protocols, such as updated ventilation systems and new socially-distanced visitation arrangements. Some €30 million has been earmarked for galleries, cultural centers, and publishing. The package, called New Start, also decreases the tax rate on art by 3 percent.
“[W]e are supporting the new start of cultural life in Germany and setting the course for the future,” said culture minister Monika Grütters in a statement today. “For us, the preservation and safeguarding of Germany’s cultural infrastructure is the key to creating work opportunities for artists and creative people throughout the country again.”
The funds will primarily benefit facilities that are not already supported by public funding, which would include independently-owned businesses and privately-funded arts organizations.
The program also aims to get creatives back to work, especially those who have been temporarily furloughed, by designating up to €450 million toward re-employment efforts.
However, the Association of Visual Artists in Berlin says the aid does not go far enough, particularly in its support for freelancers. “Freelance artists, like all other solo freelancers affected by the corona crisis, are neither supported, for example through order or purchase programs, nor receive bridging grants, which the economic stimulus package naturally provides for other sectors,” organization said in a statement.
Noting that the new round of cultural support totals just .7 percent of the total €130 billion, the group is calling for a “New Deal” for art, including large-scale acquisitions and commissioning programs.
“The lion’s share of the costs resulting from the pandemic in the cultural sector will be left to the federal states alone—which will then lack these funds elsewhere. And the economic stimulus package leaves the artists* and cultural workers alone all the more,” the statement says.
Olaf Zimmermann, managing director of the German Cultural Council, has pushed back on the criticism: “Culture has simply not been forgotten, as has been claimed time and again in recent weeks, but is an important part of the federal government’s economic stimulus program.”