In a Year of Unprecedented Financial Strain, Germany Has Approved a €2.1 Billion Culture Budget—Its Largest Ever

The country added an additional €155 million to its budget over last year.

Monika Grütters, Germany's minister for culture. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa via Getty Images.
Monika Grütters, Germany's minister for culture. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa via Getty Images.

Germany has announced a substantial increase to its funding for culture in 2021 as its seeks to resuscitate its cultural sector after what will soon be a year marred by cancellations, lockdowns, and reduced visitor numbers.

A parliament committee approved a nationwide budget of €2.1 billion ($2.5 billion) for culture in 2021, an increase of €155 million ($185 million) over the previous year. It still needs approval from the upper house in the parliament, but is expected to be ratified on January 1, 2021.

“We invest in Germany’s cultural infrastructure and thus direct our gaze towards the future,” said culture minister Monika Grüttters in a statement. “This strong commitment by parliament to culture and media is a major signal in these difficult times.”

More than 100 projects will receive funding. Nearly €85 million will go toward renovating the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, a theater for Richard Wagner’s operas. Another €76 million is set aside for renovations of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation’s buildings, to help with the Berlin organization’s “reform process” after a major government-commissioned report this fall recommended for drastic changes.

In addition, a total of €1.75 million will fund projects addressing Germany’s colonial history, in addition to €1.5 million set aside for the German Lost Art Foundation, which offers grants to institutions conducting provenance research into Nazi-looted art, colonial-era acquisitions, as well as art confiscated from within the former German Democratic Republic.

The German city of Chemnitz will receive €25 million to assist with its programming as it plans for its role as the European capital of culture in 2025.

Germany’s museums and cultural venues have spent much of the year in lockdown. After reopening in late spring, they were closed again at the beginning of November, a move which was extended last week until at least December 22. France and the UK have released plans to come out of lockdown next month.

The nation is nearly on par with the European Union’s recently announced budget for culture: €2.8 billion to be distributed in the next seven years. The UK’s current package for 2021 includes £320 million ($426 million) for its arts institutions.

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