German Bundestag approves culture budget. Guess how much.

German Bundestag approves culture budget. Guess how much.


norman lebrecht

June 26, 2014

1.29 billion Euros.

You read that right.

Germany is spending US $1.75 billion on arts and culture.

(No question who’s winning this war.)

And the new minister Monika Grütters (left of Chancellor Merkel) says art must take risks and hurt people as well as pleasing them.

Read here.



  • william osborne says:

    Actually, total German government arts spending is about 11 billion Euros. The 1.29 billion Euros mentioned in the article is only the Federal arts budget which is usually about 13% of total government arts spending in Germany. The other 87% of government funding comes from the municipal and state levels.

    Total German government arts spending is thus around 11 billion Euros or 15 billion dollars. That comes to $183 per person. The most recent documentation I can find is here. Open the menu for 2009 to see the most recent German stats. They are considerably higher now:

    In the USA, the federal government, states and localities appropriated a combined $1.14 billion to the arts in FY2013, for a total per capita investment of $3.60. See:

    That’s $183 vs. $3.60. Per capita government arts spending in Germany is thus 51 times higher than in the USA. The results are obvious. Germany, for example, has 47 cities in the top 100 for opera performances per year. The USA, with four times the population, has 3. There are several European countries that spend much more per capita on the arts than even Germany.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      William, thank you for this information. I’d be very curious to find out about US public spending in previous decades. Any suggestions where to look?

  • Anon says:

    Interesting to compare central ‘investment’ (aka spending) with the UK.
    Over a three year period the UK Arts Council are investing £2.4bn = €3bn, or €1bn / year.
    UK population 63mn (so that’s €15.87 / head)
    GER population 80.5mn (so their new budget suggests €16.02 / head)
    Not dissimilar per head.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Very useful comparison. However, the German figures represent federal spending only. Each of the Länder has its own cultural budget, some of them very considerable, others under extreme financial pressure at present. Taken together (see William Osborne’s comment), German arts spending per head is perhaps three times that of the UK’s.

  • Benjamin Immervoll says:

    The comparison with the US is incompetent and makes no sense. In Germany (as in most middle European countries), private sponsorship for the arts brings no tax advantages whatsoever and is therefore virtually non-existant. The arts depend largely on state money. To have a real picture, one would have to compare the budget to the Dutch, French, Austrian, Italian and Swiss cultural budgets. Austria (with a population of 10% of Germany) has a cultural budget of around 450 million Euros, ie around a third – and that is by far not enough to keep up what is going on, let alone start new ventures. What is really needed is a law that makes private sponsorships for the arts (or education for that matter) tax-deductable, as it happens in the US. Compare the privately raised sums per capita and the cultural world will look entirely different.

    • I agree. The best situation for the arts, in this case: music life, is a state garantee that safeguards institutions’ existence (orchestras, opera houses etc.), and private sponsorship to support the extras / special projects / explorative projects.

      There is, however, already quite much private sponsorship going-on in Germany for music institutions and music projects, thanks to the awareness of the importance of the arts and especially – for Germany – classical music. But it is a bit out of sight.

      If music life is fully and exclusively dependent upon state subsidies, the danger is a stagnating conventionality and deadening routine, inviting incompetence, lazyness and corruption. Also it makes music life entirely dependent upon political strive. A good example is Holland, where the arts are almost completely dependent upon state money, generously spent during decennia of leftish governments, and where the shift to the political right has caused very drastic cuts in the subsidies, resulting in collapsing cultural institutions, orchestras forced to fold or to merge, etc. State subsidies are dangerous. During the ‘golden era’ of Dutch state funding, the state fund for new music, for instance, has been operating like a Soviet Union central committee, with receivers of the subsidies in the selection boards who channelled the money into their own pockets, creating a cultural policy cultivating incompetence and fraud. It is easy to get state funding for the arts wrong.

      In spite of all this, Germany and Austria understand themselves as ‘Kulturnation’ and represent as such an old European tradition, reinforcing European cultural identity. This has to be lauded and followed if classical music life is supposed to survive in a world that increasingly looses its roots and sinks into a standardized, trivial and commercial globalization: MacWorld.

  • Gerhard says:

    You write: “No question who’s winning this war.” Who is at war?

  • Khartimi says:

    Read “der Kulturinfarkt” if you read German. A lot of this money goes for miserable Eurotrash that no one wants to see.