German culture minister wins 4.26% increase in federal funding

German culture minister wins 4.26% increase in federal funding


norman lebrecht

November 17, 2014

Professor Monika Grütters is proving as clear-sighted as her predecessor in persuading politicians of the need to support the arts. She has won a significant increase from the Bundestag and says it should send ‘a political signal to cultural leaders in states and cities not to accept cuts in culture, even in financially difficult times’.

Carve those words in stone. The budget will grow by 118 million Euros to 1.34 billion.


Among institutions that will receive extra federal funding are the Beethoven House in Bonn, the Pina Bausch Centre in Wuppertal, the Bauhaus Archive and the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

Federal film funding, however, is to be reduced from 60 to 50 million Euros.


  • Chris says:

    “Will grow by 118 million Euros to 1.34 billion”.

    118 million Euros is about the whole budget of the USA’s equivalent of federal art subsidies, the NEA. For a country with four times the population size.

    Good for Germany and thank you German tax payers. Someone should make sure the achievements of our western civilizations survive in the future.

  • william osborne says:

    We should remember that the German Federal Government contributes only 13% of total public arts funding in Germany. The other 87% of government funding comes from the municipal and state levels. Combined total German government arts spending from the Federal, State, and local levels is thus about 11 billion Euros, which comes to $146 per person. The most recent documentation I can find is from 2009. (The numbers are a bit higher now.) See:

    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.

    Even including numbers for private funding, the USA still falls far behind. Philanthropic giving for the arts, culture, and humanities is listed in the 2012 annual report of Giving USA compiled by the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University. (Unfortunately the report has be deleted from their website.)

    It notes that the arts, culture, and humanities received 4% of total philanthropic giving in 2012 for a sum of 13 billion. There was no further break down so we don’t know what went to “culture” (which can include zoos, parks, Boy Scouts, youth festivals, and even swimming pools) nor how much the “humanities” received which relates to education and research. What the arts actually ended up with is not specified, but I would estimate that roughly half went to the arts – or $21 per capita. Added to spending for the arts from the Federal, State, and Municipal levels this comes to about $24.60 per capita.

    By comparison (from the chart listed above published by the EU) Austria spends $324 per capita, Denmark $374, Norway $667, Germany $146, Italy $147, and Netherlands $333. The average for these countries is $331 – 13 times higher than American spending, both public and private. The European data is published by The Council of Europe and is available here:

    Even if we add in a large margin of error for these numbers, the average would still be 10 times higher than in the USA.

    • william osborne says:

      (An addenda to my previous post which is awaiting moderation.) We might also note how public arts funding in Italy is under assault. Between 2009 and 2011 it dropped 19%. In 2009 Italy was spending considerably more per capita than even Germany, but it is now about 8% below Germany. That should not be a reason to close the Rome opera, even if Italy has one of the largest burdens in the world for maintaining historic buildings.

  • David Pickett says:

    Mr. Osborne,

    What is the figure for the UK, please?

    • william osborne says:

      A very difficult question. Determining the numbers for the UK is more complex than for most of the EU. The Council of Europe does not include the UK in its studies, probably because the country is not part of the Maastricht Treaty, and because the Commonwealth countries use a hybrid system of public and private arts funding. The private funding is difficult to track. And since 1994 each of the UK’s four major regions has its own arts council.

      From 2012 to 2015 the English Arts Council invested 1.4 billion pounds in public money from the government, and an estimated 1 billion pounds from the National Lottery in the arts and culture. One would need to determine how much went to “culture” (parks, zoos, swimming pools, humanities, youth organizations, etc.) and how much to the “arts.” For a very rough estimate, perhaps 50% would be a working number. Half of 2.4 billion pounds comes to about $2.19 billion, or $730 million per year over the three year period — a number that has long been typical for England even if the trend is slighty downward. The Council’s sums for public funding thus comes to $13.77 per capita per year. To that would be added local public funding and the sizeable sums contributed through private funding in the UK’s hybrid system. I don’t have numbers for these sums.

      In any case, the numbers are well below the norms for continental Western Europe. London compares well to continental Europe in its number of cultural institutions (e.g. 5 orchestras and 2 opera houses.) It is English the regions that suffer. An example would be the limited offerings for opera in cities like Manchester and Birmingham. Birmingham has a population of over a million. By continental standards it should have a major opera house, but it doesn’t. The Birmingham Opera does interesting and innovative work, but their season is very limited. Perhaps there are readers here who have more details about arts funding in the UK. Please help if you can.

    • william osborne says:

      Another way to judge arts funding is to compare the number of performing arts institutions. The UK has a population of 65 million and Germany 82 million, and yet the relative numbers for opera houses and orchestras are far more disparate. The UK has five opera houses (ENO, ROH, WNO, Opera North, and the SNO) while Germany has 83. (There are smaller companies with short seasons below the radar, but Germany has those too.) The UK has 20 orchestras (I can list them if needed) while Germany has 133. I suppose one conclusion could be that you get what you pay for. The Germans shell out a lot of money for these things. And the Scandinavians are spending twice as much as even the Germans — hence all those Finnish conductors on the international stage and the international success of composers like Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saairaho…

  • Lieven Bertels says:

    Norman, do these figures include spending on cultural heritage (for example restorarion of historic buildings?)

    If they do it seems Australia’s public spending on culture is comparable to many European countries at around $260 USD per capita between Federal, State and Local governments:

    Private giving to arts and culture contributed $107 million USD in the same year ($4.6 USD per capita) and corporate sponsorship around $85 million USD (or $3.7 per capita).

    Arts philanthropy only amounts to 2.3% of all philanthropic donations (and these figures are probably fairly accurate as Australia has a transparent tax deal for donors, a good incentive for people to register their donations).