Germany’s federal government has announced that it will increase its culture and media budget by more than € 120 million ($ 140 million) by 2021, bringing the ministry’s total budget to € 1.94 billion ($ 2.26 billion).
The plans were announced as part of a draft state budget for next year, which the cabinet approved this week. Amid the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, this year’s budget increase of 6.6 percent is refreshing good news for the culture industry.
Culture Minister Monika Grütters said that such a strong budget for the final year before Germany’s elections underscored the country’s commitment to culture, especially on top of its existing multibillion-dollar coronavirus rescue program.
“Especially in times of crisis, culture is the foundation of our social cohesion,” Grütters said in a statement. “Art, culture and media make us aware time and time again of our great privilege to live in a country with freedom of press, culture and opinion, where controversial debate is possible, desired and can be sustained. The protection of this freedom remains the highest principle of federal cultural policy. “
The German government’s cultural budget has grown by about 60 percent since Grütters took office in 2013, and 85 percent since German Chancellor Angela Merkel came to power in 2005.
The minister said that the additional funds would be used to support projects that strengthen “the understanding of democracy and the historical assessment of our society”. In particular, the budget includes a total of € 6.2 million ($ 7.2 million) allocated to revising and modernizing permanent exhibitions at the country’s two main historical museums, the German History Museum in Berlin and the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn.
The draft budget also offers more than € 26 million a boost for cultural projects in the country’s lignite mining region amid Germany’s transition from the era of coal-fired power plants. This includes providing support to the Dessau-Wörlitz Cultural Foundation to implement its master plan for the UNESCO world heritage site, Garden Kingdom.
The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation will also receive a much higher grant, with around € 14.5 million ($ 16.8 million) expected to maintain much of its property, and modernize its infrastructure, although the amount depends on the State of Berlin approving a co-financing plan. .
The draft budget also seeks to expand original research by providing an additional € 1.5 million ($ 1.7 million) to the Center for the Loss of German Cultural Heritage in Magdeburg, and € 4 million ($ 4.6 million) to the Federal Arts Administration, which manages government art. collect, and research objects confiscated as a result of Nazi persecution.
Additional funds will also be used for heritage sites, the media sector and the film. A spokesman for the State Minister for Culture and Media told Artnet News that the draft budget now needs to be approved by the German parliament, which is expected to be completed in late November or early December.
Although the draft budget does not include additional resources related to the coronavirus crisis, Germany has taken the lead in assisting its cultural industry through the € 1 billion “Neustart Culture” (Restart Culture) program, which comes from the 2020 budget. The ministry spokesman added that because every the German states also have cultural autonomy, there are many additional local bailouts for the industry.
“These programs are very complex and growing,” he said, adding that it is impossible to say how much Germany has spent saving its cultural sector.
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