Breaking: Germany spends record 2 billion in culture support

Breaking: Germany spends record 2 billion in culture support


norman lebrecht

November 27, 2020

The British Government led the way with £1.57 billion for culture during Covid.

Now the Bundestag in Berlin has upped its game, adding 170 million euros to it culture spending to hit a new record of 2.1 billion euros.

This includes 84.7 million euros to renovate the Bayreuth Festspielhaus.


That’s a heck of a lot more than King Ludwig would have coughed up.


  • HarryC says:

    Money well spent. Unlike our aircraft carriers …..

  • The 2.1 billion is just the Federal budget in Germany. Most cultural funding comes from the state and municipals levels and totals 12 to 13 billion Euros. For perspective, if the USA spent similar sums per capita, public cultural funding would be around $50 billion. If we had comparable per capita numbers for state owned and operated orchestras it would be 490. There would be 249 full time opera houses.

    • V.Lind says:

      All playing — in healthy times — to 45% capacity.
      I’d say spend some of that theoretical sum on music education, but first the US needs to spend some money — and some imagination — on basic education.

      • They play on average to about 85% capacity. The numbers could be higher, but 85% is the conscious aim since it allows for a balance between popularity and innovative programming. (I have some documentation, but I’m feeling to lazy at the moment to dig it up.)

      • Peter San Diego says:

        The current budget of the US Dept of Education is $68 billion. Of course, it’s operating under the handicap of De Vos as Secretary of Education, but one looks forward to a change soon.

        I agree with the call for more imagination when it comes to basic education; that might even come to including music education as a component of “basic” education!

      • MWnyc says:

        At this point you couldn’t even get the entire U.S. to agree on just what “basic education” is.

      • fflambeau says:

        I don’t agree. The USA has a huge number of universities with top musical programs and they spend lots of money on these programs and students. Germany, in comparison, has far fewer schools and universities (I’m not talking about conservatories, by the way). Nor do I think money spent on remodeling a building to be a real investment in music.

    • El says:

      Having 249 opera houses in America would be a waste of money. There is no demand for that amount of houses here

  • Gustavo says:

    So Bayreuth may at last get an aircon to combat global warming?

    Hot air has often been an issue in Bayreuth…

    • mvarc says:

      One year at Bayreuth I experienced an extreme example of the extraordinary acoustic of the Festspielhaus. At the start of the first interval the man sitting two seats along in the row infront of me asked his neighbour to remove his watch as he could hear it ticking! He was wearing one of the then-new Swatch watches – very elegant designs but with a noticeable second-hand tick – and was extremely annoyed at the request. He was only persuaded to wrap the watch in a handkerchief and stow it in his pocket when others around him joined in the complaint!

      I mention this in relation to the suggestion that air conditioning might be introduced at Bayreuth. I understand that one of the reasons Broadway shows started amplifying musicals with strategically-placed microphones (now replaced by body microphones) was to counter the noise of the newly-introduced air-conditioning systems. It occurs to me that however much they may silence the machines (distance/insulation etc), it may prove very difficult to silence the sound of the significant amount of pumped air that would be needed to cool the building down from the temperatures into the 30s C we have suffered in recent years. We may not even know if Das Rheingold has begun!

  • Jack says:

    And in the US: $0

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    I think it is worth pointing out that the UK government certainly did NOT lead the way! The German government and individual States announced extra emergency funding (in addition to the already remarkable annual Arts funding provided nationally and locally) to support the Arts and Artists, including the self-employed among us, within a month after announcing the first lockdown in early March .

    The UK government, who already offered only very meagre annual support to the Arts in GB compared to Germany, were extremely slow in their response to the needs of UK artists/musicians/performers and the Cultural Arts in general during the first UK lockdown, as anyone who followed the desperate and several weeks long cry for help from UK artists and artistic institutions on social media and in the press last April/May can testify.