Forget Covid. Germany is boosting arts spending by 6.6 percent

Forget Covid. Germany is boosting arts spending by 6.6 percent


norman lebrecht

September 25, 2020

Culture Minister Monika Grütters has won a budget of 1.94 billion euros for the coming year. That is a 6.6% increase year on year.

And not a peep of opposition. Grütters has won the argument that culture in Germany is vital for social cohesion.

Since she became Minister of State for Culture in 2013, federal spending on culture has increased by 60%.



  • Tamino says:

    In times of a declining car industry it is again Vorsprung durch Kultur.

  • FrankW says:

    My wife and I are dedicated subscribers to the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall. What’s not to like about this story?

  • Geezer says:

    Germany did not waste its post war Marshall Plan grant, unlike UK, Germany’s defence spend is tiny compared to UK, Germany did not run its industry into the ground and convert to a Deliveroo service economy. Germany has money to burn with a massive trade surplus and it is the only EM member state benefiting directly from the Euro, no wonder they can shell out on the Arts.

    • christopher storey says:

      Geezer : you seem unaware that a. the United Kingdom received no marshall Plan grant , and even worse, having for more than 2 years borne alone the entire cost of resisting the Germany you seem to admire, we had to repay to the USA the entire cost of Lend Lease, a process which took some 60 years

  • One should understand that Grütters is the Federal Cultural Minister and the 1.94 billion Euro sum is only the Federal arts budget. Only about 10 to 15% of the public arts funding in Germany comes from the Federal level. The rest comes from the state and municipal level. The Federal, state, and municipal funding totals around 12 to 13 billion Euros per year. So the 1.94 billion is only a small part of that.

    I haven’t calculated the exact number of late, but public arts funding in Germany is at least 50 times higher than in the USA. Sadly, private donations in the USA do not come near compensating for this difference. The consequences are immediately apparently when comparing the fine arts offerings in the two countries.

    • V. Lind says:

      Of course private donations cannot make it up. But Americans are pathologically opposed to paying taxes in case someone they deem less deserving than themselves (i.e. someone poor, someone sick, someone of a different race, an immigrant, a person of different politics) gets the tiniest benefit from it.

  • John Rook says:

    Kirill looks as relaxed as ever.

  • Herbert Gussett says:

    Forget covid-19! The most serious pandemic since the 1918 flu in fact even worse. RLM Real Lives Matter! No one will want to sit in a concert hall, theatre or opera house if there is a risk of Cov-19, even with all the safeguards in place.

    International travel is already becoming expensive and difficult with quarantines, testing, facemasks etc. Art can wait, it can all be seen and heard by webstreaming and on the telly/radio.

    The Arts will just have to go tech, think they will be reaching folk who have never heard a note of Bach, Biber, Beethoven, Brahms, etc

  • HugoPreuss says:

    The vast majority of spending on culture is either local or state money. The federal level is not really the go to address, so these 1.94 bn. are in addition to the main sources of funding. Federal cultural activities are meant to set federal highlights and to help out in times of crisis. It is nice to have that money, but the real kudos go to the 16 states and to the cities that support an opera house or a concert orchestra. And lets not forget public radio and their excellent orchestras.

  • Kenneth Griffin says:

    The Germans may value social cohesion, but the UK Government seeks to foster social division. Maybe that’s why they designate the arts as not viable, and act to destroy them?

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Meanwhile here in the UK the £1.57b bailout in July seems to have resulted in the continuing closure of much of the cultural infrastructure with no doubt administrators taking the money but with nothing to show for it. Begs the question, what do billions buy that can actually be seen or heard?

  • Bill says:

    The US spends a paltry 147.9 million on the National Endowment for the Arts budget. The states spend a combined total of about 355 million.

    German orchestras/opera companies don’t have to pay for their employees health insurance. German orchestras/opera companies don’t have to worry about shyster ambulance chasers suing them. German orchestras/opera companies don’t have to carry the amount of liability insurance a US company does to protect themselves from those shyster ambulance chasers. German orchestras/opera companies don’t operate under a federal government that has completely abdicated any responsibility for protecting its citizens from a deadly pandemic.

    Now can people around here understand why the Met was forced to close?

  • MezzoLover says:

    Monika Grütters also led the German government’s rescue and recovery program NEUSTART KULTUR, which has provided one billion euros to cultural institutions and artists whose livelihoods were threatened by COVID-19.

    And her influence reaches well beyond Germany:

    On September 14, she hosted a working meeting in Berlin for her EU counterparts. The main purpose of the meeting was to examine the challenges posed by the pandemic for the entire cultural sector across EU and to discuss ways to “keep culture alive in Europe.” She explained that “health considerations must of course always take precedence, but there are now examples demonstrating that it is possible to resume cultural activities even during the pandemic…if we can now manage to re-mobilize the force of the creative sector and our common cultural heritage, the COVID-19 pandemic could strengthen trust in the European Union and thus also in European solidarity and cohesion.”

    It is called LEADERSHIP, something that is unfortunately in very short supply here in the United States these days.

  • Leonardo Bautista says:

    Bravo Germany!