Germany’s culture minister and chief conductor set up fund for struggling musicians

Germany’s culture minister and chief conductor set up fund for struggling musicians


norman lebrecht

March 25, 2020

Monika Grütters, the culture minister, has joined Kirill Petrenko, chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic and Bavarian State Opera, at the head of a foundation to raise funds for freelance musicians across the country.

photo (c) Ritterhaus

press release:

German Minister of State for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters and Chief Conductor of the
Berliner Philharmoniker and General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper Kirill Petrenko
Assume Patronage of the Fund-Raising Drive of the German Orchestra Foundation
The German Minister of State for Culture and the Media Monika Grütters and Kirill Petrenko, Chief
Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker and General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper in
Munich, have jointly assumed the patronage of the national fund-raising drive of the German Orchestra
Foundation (#MusikerNothilfe).
The musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker are participating substantially and, together with their chief
conductor, appeal for contributions to this campaign.
Monika Grütters said: »For the many freelance musicians in orchestras and ensembles, the cancellations
of their concerts and projects result in losses of income which are a threat to their livelihood. Because
solidarity is more necessary than ever in this situation, I am deeply grateful to Kirill Petrenko for
immediately supporting the incentive of the German Orchestra Association and its Orchestra Foundation
with his generous contribution to an emergency aid fund for musicians. I hope that his example will set a
precedent, also in other sectors. Therefore, I have gladly assumed the patronage of the initiative of the
Orchestra Foundation. In order to stimulate cultural life in Germany as quickly as possible after this crisis,
in addition to the unprecedented emergency measures of the federal government, we also particularly
need the commitment of civil society and the solidarity of the strong with the weaker. I am convinced that
if we who love music collaborate in this way, we will have the best chance that our musical culture will
not suffer irreparable damage.«
On behalf of the entire Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, Andrea Zietzschmann, General Manager of
the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation, Chief Conductor Kirill Petrenko and Orchestra Board Member
Alexander Bader said: »With this campaign, everyone who has the privilege of a fixed salary or greater
reserves at the moment can support those whose livelihood is threatened as a result of the current
dramatic situation. Together we appeal to you to contribute. Help us preserve the cultural life we all know
and love!«
With the emergency aid fund the Foundation, which after ten days has already collected more than
420,000 euros, will help needy freelancers who currently find themselves in a social crisis. A sum of up
to 500 euros will paid out to those affected before Easter, until the government assistance is distributed.
The donation account is:
Deutsche Orchester-Stiftung – Reference: Nothilfefonds
IBAN: DE35 1004 0000 0114 1514 05


  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    It is not clear if this assistance is also available to non-German artists who had contracts with German opera houses or concert halls which were rendered void due to force majeure.

    Another idea would be to offer ticket holders eligible for refunds the choice to direct the price of their tickets into a fund to be distributed to artists not on full-time salary. In terms of equitable distribution to those in most need, top fee divi and maestri would be ineligible for such assistance.

    • Tom Hase says:

      It is available also for non-German artists. The only necessary condition is that one must have had income in Germany over the last year for which one has paid social security and needs documentation of these social security payments. The application form is here:

      Note however, that the fund does not even try to fully cover freelance artists. It is only there to provide emergency funding to stop people from starving. Accordingly, the maximum grant is 500 Euro. Since there are already more than 2000 applications (and the fund currently has 850.000 Euros), it is clear that not every applicants can receive 500 Euros immediately. Some tough decisions will have to be made.

      The criteria for who will be funded are not quite transparent. From the description I would assume that low income applicants will be treated with preference.

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        But the 500 euros is an emergency stopgap, to cover until, I think, 1 April, when regular and more substantial payments are to start for people who apply for help.

        • Tom Hase says:

          While there have been vague promises by the government not to let freelance artists starve, there is no clear commitment whether more substantial payments will happen, let alone as quickly as by April 1st.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            As I suspected, I misremembered the date. It’s a 500 euro stopgap until Easter, when the government funds are supposed to start. “Betroffenen soll noch vor Ostern ein Betrag von bis zu 500 Euro als Überbrückung ausgezahlt werden, bis dann staatliche Hilfen fließen,” according to Grütters.

            The news reports I’ve read also mention the possibility of suspending GVL contributions. For people who write music, such as myself, or appear in broadcasts, me again, GEMA and GVL have provided various levels of support, as have some of the provinces (states), such as the one I live in, Nordrhein-Westfalen.

  • Gustavo says:

    There is no 1.5 m gap between the two.

    • Christopher Clift says:

      If you are referring to the photograph, You really are a tosser!

      • Gustavo says:

        Yes, I am referring to the photo and today’s message from the German president stating that spatial distancing is “the order of the day”.

  • Robert Rÿker says:

    Bravo. This is a marvelous gesture.