German Minister: Why we’re giving 1bn Euros to culture, 9bn to Lufthansa

Culture Secretary Monika Grütters attempts an explanation:

Genaues Hingucken hilft, linke Vergleiche von Äpfeln mit Birnen helfen nicht. Bei der Lufthansa geht es um eine Mischung aus rückzahlbaren Krediten und staatlicher Beteiligung, die irgendwann wieder verkauft wird. Mit unseren Hilfen für die Kulturlandschaft ist das überhaupt nicht vergleichbar. Wir ermöglichen damit den Neustart der Künste – und das, obwohl die Kulturhoheit vor allem bei den Ländern liegt. Auf Bundesebene ist es uns jedenfalls gelungen, ein eigenes, klar abgegrenztes Programm zur Bewältigung der Coronakrise zu bekommen. 

Auch bekommt die Kultur im Rettungspaket prozentual deutlich mehr Geld, als der Anteil der Kultur am Bundeshaushalt in normalen Zeiten ist. Darauf bin ich stolz. Darüber hinaus gibt es jede Menge Unterstützung des Bundes auch an anderer Stelle.

Comparisons of apples with pears are unhelpfuk. Lufthansa is about a mixture of repayable loans and a government stake, which will be sold again at some point. This is not comparable with our help for the cultural landscape. We have enabled the arts to restart – although cultural sovereignty lies primarily with the federal states. At the federal level, we have managed to get their own, clearly defined program for coping with the corona crisis . 

The culture in the rescue package also receives significantly more money in percentage terms than the share of culture in the federal budget in normal times. I’m proud of that. There is also plenty of federal support elsewhere.

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    • It’s almost like Lufthansa employs 10,000s of voters in Germany. No good will come of letting the rude mechanicals have vote.

  • Really well deserved! The cultural and creative industries in Germany are on No. 2 directly after the car industry. So they are bigger than the chemical industry, energy industry, financial services sector, etc. Many jobs are involved.

  • The crux of the German federal government’s argument appears to lie in the implication that the arts organisations receiving federal support are not subject to the sort of ‘quid pro quo’ entailed by the loan- and share- based support afforded to Lufthansa. Maybe there is some truth in that, insofar as accountability of state-supported arts organisations in Germany appears to be primarily towards state (Land-) and municipal governments, rather than federal (Bundes-).

    But this does not change the fact that the level of support to Lufthansa is utterly perverse — given the climate emergency, it is utterly insane to support commercial airlines at all. Rather than seizing the golden opportunity to allow free-market capitalism to shrink the aviation sector decisively, governments are intervening to prop-up the very sectors that threaten to exacerbate a far more serious crisis than the covid-19 pandemic. Given that the German federal government claims that it intends to sell some of its shares in Lufthansa in the future, its commercial interest in ensuring the airline is profitable in the short-term is stronger than ever. This begs the question: can it be trusted to legislate for environmental imperatives, rather than to favour Lufthansa’s commercial interests?

  • After Lufthansa cancelled those flights in April for which I had tickets, they still refused to refund my money citing their huge losses, so apparently Nine Billion Euro is not nearly enough for them, and I do feel their pain. Or mine.

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