Germany Bumps Up Culture Spending by 7 Percent to $2.4 Billion, Citing Link Between Arts and Democracy

The budget represents a 7 percent rise over last year's.

Claudia Roth, the new culture minister, will oversee the ongoing Neustart Kultur program. Photo: Ying Tang/NurPhoto.

Germany’s new culture minister, Claudia Roth, has announced a 2022 budget of €2.3 billion ($2.4 billion). The figure is an increase of €148 million ($156 million), or 7 percent, over last year’s budget, and the additional funds will be distributed to a variety of causes and organizations, especially those focused on colonialism and climate change.

Roth said, “With the 2022 budget, the members of the Bundestag are specifically strengthening the arts, culture, and media in the face of the unprecedented crises of our time….Now more than ever, we need the open spaces for discourse and the diverse food for thought provided by art and culture.”

Germany gave substantial support to artists and the arts during the pandemic, and as things recalibrate within a new normal, the government is looking to boost creative industries beyond survival and help them thrive.

“We will invest the additional funds wisely, in the expansion of a diverse and sustainable cultural sector, in strengthening the social position of artists and overall, in the future of our valuable culture of democracy,” Roth added.

Among the line items detailed in the announcement are €5.1 million ($5.4 million) for ‘measures against right-wing extremism and racism’ and €6.5 million ($6.8 million) for addressing the ongoing effects of colonialism and the government’s Global South program of investment.

Climate is front and center. The cultural and media sector will be given €5 million ($5 million) and an additional €5 million ($5 million) towards these industries adapting more climate-conscious business practices.

Specific organizations to receive funding will be the Jewish Museum in Berlin, which will get €4.5 million ($5 million), and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, allocated €14.9 million ($16 million). There will be added funding provided for festival group QueerScope, the Federal Youth Ballet, and the Music Association for Choir and Orchestra. Cinephiles will be thrilled with the €10 million ($10.5 million) earmarked for the preservation of cinemas, particularly in rural areas.

The German cultural budget has grown steadily since 2005, and ministers have consistently drawn a parallel between investment in culture and democracy. To that end, €1.7 million ($1.8 million) will go toward artistic projects to commemorate recent attacks in Germany.

The budget adds €60 million ($63 million) to extend Neustart Kulture (Newstart Culture), a network of programs to support cinemas, museums, theaters, venues, and creatives, through June 2023. A further €66m ($70 million) has been set aside for preserving historical and ‘culturally significant’ monuments in Germany.

Once the budget is approved, it will go into effect retroactively as of January 1, 2022.

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