We have been sent an official English version of a letter sent to Chancellor Merkel by the Conference of German Music Directors. They are not happy with the shutdown.
Dear Chancellor Dr. Merkel, Minister of State for Culture Prof. h.c. Grütters,
For the second time this year, Germany’s cultural landscape has been silenced. In contrast to March, however, theatres and concert halls have since been proven to be safer than most of the nation’s facilities and are excellently equipped to conform to the health and safety requirements of the current pandemic. Nevertheless, the entire cultural sector has once again been promptly axed. Yet as long as our children and grandchildren are sitting in crowded school buses, trains and poorly ventilated classrooms and whilst domestic flights are being subsidized to the tune of billions, we find it more than difficult to believe in the effectiveness of these measures. Moreover, despite your lipservice, a bitter suspicion is encroaching upon us that the value of culture has been so lowered these past months that your first solution to rising infection rates seems to be:”If it’s art, then we can do without it!”
Seemingly regarded by you as mere providers of leisure and entertainment, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to our musicians, our audiences and also to society as a whole. The solidarity demanded can only be afforded by all if parts of our society are not robbed of their livelihood. Especially in the field of culture there are now countless self-employed, freelancers, employees and those in mixed forms of employment who are once again on the verge of financial ruin through no fault of their own. This has occurred in spite of the fact that there have been many months to find adequate solutions for these groups of people.
For many, your newly imposed silencing of culture is also a loss of identity. Money alone cannot fill this void. As the pandemic progresses, we demand evidence-based decisions from our politicians for the cultural sector. We call for music schools nationwide to be left open in November and in this respect to be put on an equal footing with schools. This would be an opportunity for politicians to show how important cultural education is for our society. We request cancellation fees amounting to 75 percent of the negotiated fee or the average monthly wage for freelancers.
Let us work together to find viable solutions. Solutions which protect people and at the same time preserve the cultural nation of Germany.
It’s not what you say, but how you say it – or in German, “Der Ton macht die Musik” (literally “the sound makes the music”) – that’s what we’re all about!
GMD and Chief Conductors’ Conference
Prof. Marcus Bosch (V.)
Prof. Dr. Peter Gülke
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Haenchen