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Germany’s culture energy fund prematurely axed

The German federal government has put an end to its cultural energy fund, set up to help institutions and organisers with increased energy bills caused by the war in Ukraine.

The Culture Energy Fund (Kulturfonds Energie) was said to proportionately subsidise “additional energy costs” for eligible recipients between January 1 2023 to April 30 2024. The government initially earmarked €1 billion for the fund, when it was announced in January 2023.

However, the fourth and fifth funding tranches of the fund have been cancelled after the German government imposed a budget freeze on 21 November 2023, though applications filed before that date will be honoured.

“The Energy Cultural Fund was actually messed up from the start”

According to reports from the German industry, many venues did not apply for funding from the Culture Energy Fund because the application process wasn’t worth the payout. Event companies, meanwhile, were not allowed to apply themselves.

The fund also drew criticism for the fact that festivals and open-air events were not eligible because they do not take place in “closed rooms”.

“The Energy Cultural Fund was actually messed up from the start because it ignored the economic realities of our industry and couldn’t help us much,” Johannes Everke, managing director of BDKV, told Musik Woche. “Nevertheless, we were surprised at how quietly it has now been discontinued.”

Everke went on to say the association was “happy that the funding programmes of the BKM, the KulturPass and the festival funding fund do not appear to be negatively affected by the budget freeze”.

 


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German music bodies request culture pass extension

Germany’s Music Industry Forum is calling for the nationwide culture pass to be expanded after more than half a million young people downloaded the app in its first few months.

Since June, 18-year-olds living in the country have been able to access the federal government scheme, which provides them with €200 to spend on 2.2 million products, including concert and theatre tickets, in an effort to strengthen cultural participation.

However, politicians are yet to confirm whether the pilot project will continue next year, leading to the joint appeal by members of the forum – which comprises the BDKV, venue body LiveKomm, music publishers’ organisation DMV, Association of Independent Music Companies (VUT), Society of Music Merchants (SOMM) and recording industry body BVMI.

“The culture pass is a valuable instrument for strengthening the cultural participation of young people, especially if they have not previously been given access to culture,” says a statement from the group. “The culture pass not only provides a low-threshold entry and a wide range of offerings, but also supports social interaction and thus social cohesion. Cultural participation plays an important role in actively committing to our pluralistic society and its democratic values.

“Bookstores, cinemas, concert organisers, theatres, orchestras, museums, record stores and music retailers have been extremely committed to supporting the project right from the start and have already put together an impressive offering for culture pass users in a short space of time.”

“We are firmly convinced of the potential of the culture pass and would find it a devastating signal… to not give the pilot project any opportunity for further development”

It continues: “We are firmly convinced of the potential of the culture pass and would find it a devastating signal – both for young people as well as for the cultural workers and cultural places in our country – to not give the pilot project any opportunity for further development after its promising start.”

Similar initiatives have been rolled out in Spain, France and Italy with the aim of generating new consumption habits, post-pandemic.

“There is always a lot of work behind innovative projects like this – in society, business, sport and culture alike – to make them noticeable in the long term,” adds the German coalition. “This is all the more true if they are intended to be effective across society and across the board. This is exactly what the culture pass is pursuing, which is already part of the political agenda in other European countries.

“In order for this impressive pilot project to become a long-term success, it is now time to give it a real perspective on a political basis and to continue the culture pass in the 2024 federal budget at an undiminished level. This is the only way to ensure that the resources that have been raised so far are used sustainably, that the infrastructure that has been built is continuously developed and that the offer will have its full effect over the long term.”

 


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German trade association backs club campaign

Trade body BDKV has given its backing to demands for a cultural noise regulation to protect Germany’s clubbing landscape.

Noise protection regulations and building regulations are set to be revised in the country under the “ Technical Instructions for Noise” (TA Rausch) law.

Currently, cultural noise – which refers to noise that arises from music venues, operas, theatres and concert halls – is assessed as “commercial and industrial noise”. But LiveKomm, which represents more than 500 music venues in Germany, has presented proposals for a cultural noise regulation alongside the Federal Foundation LiveKultur as part of its #clubsAREculture campaign.

“Cultural sound is an indispensable part of our coexistence,” says Anna Blaich from LiveKultur. “A corresponding regulation underlines the recognition of live culture as a valuable culture worthy of protection and support.”

The BDKV is supporting the call for change, saying that music and sound from clubs and music venues, open air events and festivals “should be measured by its cultural and social added value”, as opposed to being “equated with industrial noise”.

“It is on these stages that many newcomers find their audience and mature into top stars who later fill entire halls”

“The current legal situation according to TA Rausch endangers the basis for cultural-urban life,” says BDKV MD Johannes Everke. “Cities and countries rightly adorn themselves with their cultural life and see the institutions, music clubs and festivals as an important contribution to cultural participation and location attractiveness.

“In addition, these music venues in particular offer essential spaces for promoting young artists… It is on these stages that many newcomers find their audience and mature into top stars who later fill entire halls. Together with LiveKomm, we are therefore pursuing the goal of ensuring that the legal situation and cultural policy reflect these values. We have to resolve the contradiction that society wants a vibrant culture, but not in its own backyard.”

The organisation is also showing solidarity with LiveKomm’s additional demand that music clubs be recognised as cultural venues in building regulation (BauNVO).

“Laws and rules have to arrive in the 21st century, otherwise acceptance will disappear for the system,” adds LiveKomm board member Marc Wohlrabe. “Club culture and cultural noise have no place in what has been the case so far long-standing administrative classifications with sex cinemas and arcades in the BauNVO and as commercial noise in the TA noise.”

 


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German body installs new sustainability officers

German trade association the BDKV has appointed two new sustainability officers to replace the outgoing Mike Keller.

Sarah Lüngen and Katrin Wipper from The Changency – a consultancy for sustainable change in the music industry – will succeed Markthalle Hamburg convention centre MD Keller, who took on the newly-created role at the start of 2023.

BDKV installed a new board, spearheaded by new president Sonia Simmenauer, at the start of the year and identified sustainability as one of the core topics of its work.

“We always understand sustainability in its entire complex spectrum: ecological, social and cultural sustainability are closely interlinked,” says Simmenauer. “Our measures in the spirit of sustainability therefore concern environmental protection, personnel or audience issues, equality and the contribution of culture as a whole to sustainable development.”

“Anyone who does not develop further in terms of sustainability today will soon have a difficult time,” adds BDKV MD Johannes Everke. “Let us look up, for example the EU Green Deal. In the short term, we therefore provide our members with up-to-date information and further training options. In the medium term, we are aiming for a practical sustainability certificate for the concert and event industry.

“The fields of action are numerous and diverse. We would therefore like to thank Mike for the very good work up to this point and look forward to continuing it with our new sustainability partners, the knowledgeable and committed experts from The Changency.”

“Together we can learn from and with each other to become more systemically sustainable and fair as an industry”

The Changency was founded by Lüngen and Wipper back in 2021 and has already created a portfolio of visionary projects – many of them with BDKV members. The Changency creates practical concepts for more sustainability at concerts and festivals, offers individual advice, supports communication campaigns and conducts studies.

“Our vision is to be part of the best party in the city: a party that manages to combine the passion and radiance of culture with a better, fairer way of life for everyone,” says a statement from the duo. “Sustainability that is fun, offers opportunities and shows solutions through creative ideas.

“We stand for motivation instead of resignation and are therefore very happy about the opportunity to shape the present and future of the concert and event industry together with the BDKV and its members. Together we can learn from and with each other to become more systemically sustainable and fair as an industry.”

Everke went on to praise Keller for setting the BDKV off on the right track.

“In eight months, Mike has set the course to make the topic of sustainability more transparent and better known within the association and across the industry and the public,” he says. “This starts with his always open ear and advice for our members and continues with the establishment of regular sustainability online sessions. In addition, his presence for the BDKV at industry-relevant sustainability conferences such as the SECON or Green Culture Conference and of great value for our members.”

Keller adds: “I am very grateful for this opportunity to advance the topic of sustainability with the BDKV. Katrin and Sarah’s continuation is the right decision for the BDKV. My path now continues in this direction. I wish Johannes, the entire BDKV and The Changency team much success in their upcoming tasks. The BDKV will certainly attract a lot of attention in this area.”

 


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Germany’s BDKV forms alliance with awareness org

German trade body BDKV (Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry) has united with awareness association Act Aware to help ensure “fulfilling and safe experiences” for live event attendees.

Act Aware,  which has already worked with festivals such as Reeperbahn, MS Dockville and Deichbrand, supports organisers in the development and implementation of their own awareness concepts.

The new alliance will start with a digital get-together to develop the range of information and advice and provide a code of conduct, together with new contract templates, for BDKV members.

“The greatest possible guarantee of safe spaces for each and every individual are elementary for the enthusiasm and togetherness at live events,” says Sonia Simmenauer, president of the BDKV. “The incomparable feeling of community has always made events and concerts indispensable institutions of our societies and democracies. What that means can be felt today, when the social debate heats up and moments that create identity can be beneficial for society.

“It is all the more important to raise awareness of harassment and abuse, to actively counteract cases and to prevent them from happening, whether in front of or behind the scenes. Act Aware can help us a lot here as an initiative for more awareness at events, and the BDKV forges a logical and powerful alliance with Act Aware.”

“We have now established a new partnership with Act Aware, which, through practical experience, networking and commitment, is a great enrichment for the entire industry”

Since 2020, BDKV members have had the opportunity to receive individual advice and information from the Themis Confidence Center against sexual harassment and violence in the cultural sector.

“In the current social debate about abuse of power in culture, sport, science or business, the BDKV offers its members more and more information and concrete support with their own competence and in some cases long-standing partners such as Themis, Key change or speaking time for you,” says BDKV MD Johannes Everke. “We have now established a new partnership with Act Aware, which, through practical experience, networking and commitment, is a great enrichment for the entire industry and, above all, for all spectators: inside at concerts and live events.”

In June, the BDKV added its support to the Alliance against Sexism coalition, led by family minister Lisa Paus, who proposed changes for the music business including protective areas for women at concerts and the use of “awareness teams” to regularly check what is happening backstage. It also joined the international Keychange gender equality initiative in March this year.

“We look forward to offering an exchange opportunity together with the BDKV, in which the focus is on working together on anti-discriminatory measures,” adds Sarah Bergmann of Act Aware. “Our credo is: Initiate awareness in a process from the inside out! And this societal change can best be implemented if we join forces.”

 


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German trade body backs ‘Alliance against Sexism’

In the wake of sexual misconduct accusations being levelled at Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann, German trade association BDKV has added its support to the Alliance against Sexism.

The Alliance against Sexism coalition is led by family minister Lisa Paus, who has proposed changes for the music business including protective areas for women at concerts and the use of “awareness teams” to regularly check what is happening backstage.

The BDKV is offering to contribute its experiences and measures to the initiative to provide “the greatest possible guarantee of safe spaces for everyone”. The organisation recently launched a new advisory and information service on the topic of sexual abuse, and stresses that it “resolutely opposes harassment and abuse, whether in front of or behind the stage or at the workplace”.

“The industry is taking note of the current debate very carefully,” says Johannes Everke, MD of the BDKV. “In all of this, we do not see any systemic or specific problem across our entire industry. Rather, it is a fundamental societal problem that power structures or power imbalances are repeatedly abused. It is therefore urgently necessary to deal with this and to find ways to prevent it. We will do our part to actively help solve the problems.”

The move comes amid a string of allegations regarding Lindemann’s behaviour, which Rammstein deny.

The Guardian reports that multiple women have come forward to describe a systematic process whereby young female fans were recruited, either on social media or at concerts, to have sex with Lindemann during and after Rammstein shows. The selected women are said to have been given access to a so-called “Row Zero” – a restricted area directly in front of the stage.

The claims followed one fan’s allegation that her drink had been spiked at an afterparty in Vilnius, Lithuania last month.

“The accusations have hit us all very hard and we take them extremely seriously”

Rammstein are currently in the midst of a four-night spell at Munich’s Olympic Stadium as part of their European tour. The German rock band’s management has reportedly hired a law firm to investigate the allegations internally, but no criminal investigation has been launched.

Rammstein said on Twitter: “With regard to the allegations circulating on the internet about Vilnius, we can rule out the possibility that what is being claimed took place in our environment.” In a subsequent Instagram post, the band added they were taking the situation “extremely seriously” but asked not to be prejudged.

“The accusations have hit us all very hard and we take them extremely seriously,” reads the statement. “To our fans we say: It is important to us that you feel comfortable and safe at our shows – in front of and behind the stage. We condemn any kind of assault and ask you: Do not participate in prejudgments of any kind toward those who have made accusations. They have a right to their point of view. But we, the band, also have a right — not to be prejudged either.”

The Rammstein Stadium Tour is due to run until August, with shows later this month planned in Slovakia, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal.

Gadget ABC, promoter of the group’s 17-18 June concerts in Bern, tells Blick: “As always, we are working in coordination with the authorities, the venue and other partners on various measures to ensure the safety of all concert visitors and employees. Among other things, specialised care teams are on duty.

“Just as we take the allegations against Till Lindemann and Rammstein seriously, we also uphold the principle of the presumption of innocence. We are in contact with the management of the band.”

 


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Germany’s BDKV joins Keychange

German live music trade body BDKV has joined gender equality initiative Keychange.

The BDKV says the move shows it is “increasing its commitment to a diverse and socially sustainable event industry”, noting that the proportion of women or non-binary people on and behind the stages of the concert industry is currently less than 20%, the BDKV.

“The BDKV is aware of the social role of the concert and event industry,” says BDKV MD Johannes Everke. “We are proud and right to emphasise that our industry builds bridges like no other and connects people in the shared experience of cultural events. But this role also comes with a responsibility.

“We would like to implement the community spirit that we feel directly at concerts in our everyday work. For us, this includes promoting questions of diversity in the structures of the concert and event industry and taking a mediating position. This is exactly where the Keychange campaign comes in.”

Everke adds that the organisation already implemented its first measures with equal representation on the new board and at management level, in teams and committees, or on panels, at its events.

“However, the most important measure for us is that we want to have an effect on our industry in order to encourage more diversity there and – in addition to those who have already joined – to inspire other of our member companies to join Keychange as well,” adds Everke. “As a first step, we made training content available and provided information on best practices.”

“It is the responsibility of every member of the music industry to bring about urgent change”

Last month, Keychange revealed details of its Pledge Action Plan, outlining the next steps for the scheme. More than 600 music festivals and organisations have taken the Keychange Pledge implementing sustainable structures and practices to provide more space and more opportunities for women and gender expansive creators and professionals throughout the music industry.

“The Keychange Pledge, in which members define their goals for more gender diversity, has proven to be an effective tool over the past five years to drive institutional change,” says Keychange Germany project manager Lea Karwoth. “It is the responsibility of every member of the music industry to bring about urgent change.

“We are very pleased that the BDKV is now part of the Keychange Movement and that members are also being called upon to join Keychange in order to create a diverse, representative and sustainable music industry for everyone.”

The development comes in the midst of controversy in the UK over the all-male headliners for the 2023 Glastonbury festival.

Co-organiser Emily Eavis said the event had originally lined up a female headliner who ultimately had to pull out. However, speaking to the Guardian, Eavis suggested the issue was related to problems with the talent pipeline.

“We’re trying our best so the pipeline needs to be developed,” she said. “This starts way back with the record companies, radio. I can shout as loud as I like but we need to get everyone on board.”

 


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Germany’s live body appoints sustainability director

Germany’s Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry (BDKV) has elected Mike Keller as sustainability director.

Keller is managing director at Markthalle Hamburg convention centre, a certified sustainability manager for events and a long-standing member of BDKV.

“Sustainability is now one of the most important social topics and with Mike we have now found the ideal cast for the BDKV,” reads a statement from the association.

“He will enrich us with his specialist knowledge, his connections and his enthusiasm for all aspects of sustainability”

“He will enrich us enormously with his specialist knowledge, his connections and his enthusiasm for all aspects of sustainability and, together with our members, will develop practicable solutions with which we can meet our responsibility and importance and an industry.”

Mike Keller adds: “I’m excited to see how our events will make an important contribution to sustainable development in the interests of the environment, people and the economy. There’s a lot to do!”

At the end of last year, BDKV installed a new board, spearheaded by new president Sonia Simmenauer.

 


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German business ‘cautiously optimistic’ for 2023

Members of Germany’s Event Management Forum (EMF) have shared their cautious optimism for 2023, despite the series of challenges facing the live business.

A panel at the international trade fair Best of Events (BOE) in Dortmund heard the industry was still dealing with the fallout of the energy crisis, unanswered questions regarding the government’s “culture energy fund” and a “standstill” over the culture pass for 18-year-old’s, plus slow ticket sales and the need for investment or action on sustainability measures.

However, Felix Poulheim of live music association BDKV suggests the sector is over the worst of the crisis.

“After three years in a state of emergency caused by the pandemic, the industry is no longer in the intensive care unit, but is in rehab with legitimate hope of recovery,” says Poulheim.

A coalition of Germany’s event industry associations, including live music bodies BDKV and LiveKomm, the EMF was launched in late 2020, formally recognising months of cooperation during the coronavirus crisis. The organisation’s Ilona Jarabek (EVVC), Stefan Köster (FAMA), Marcus Pohl (isdv), Chris Brosky (LiveKomm) and Linda Residovic (VPLT) also took part in the session.

“Although the outlook for 2023 is optimistic, the problems in the industry are far from over”

“Although the outlook for 2023 is optimistic, the problems in the industry are far from over,” warns Pohl. “The federal government needs to do more here. This is what the Event Management Forum is committed to in 2023 as well.”

A second panel focused on questions of social sustainability for young professionals, workers and skilled workers.

“As an industry, we have many tasks ahead of us this year,” adds Residovic. “In addition to the current topics related to sustainability, the energy crisis and the effects of Corona, a major focus will be on the further professionalisation of our industry. This is the only way we can remain attractive to new and existing employees, also in view of the current shortage of skilled workers and workers. After all, the people in our industry are our most important resource.

“One challenge in the near future will be to respond to the new wishes and requirements of Generation Z, but on the other hand not to lose sight of long-standing employees, for whom the current ‘New Work’ trend is sometimes too goes fast.

“Taking the different needs of the generations equally into account is the art for the companies and us associations. We are currently working on this in various areas and are providing assistance with various projects on how the generational balancing act can succeed.”

 


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Bid to extend German events restart fund rejected

German live trade body BDKV has hit out after MPs rejected its request to extend the special fund for cultural events.

The organisation had called for the existing Neustart Kultur II (Restart Culture 2) fund to be continued at least until the end of 2023, which it says would minimise the risk of insolvency for companies and ensure consumer protection.

Outgoing BDKV executive president Jens Michow expressed the group’s frustration with the government’s decision, saying the industry is dependent on state aid given the insurance industry no longer insures pandemic-related event cancellations.

“Should a concert or tour have to be cancelled because an artist is suffering from corona, not only is the existence of the event company at stake, but there is also the risk that consumers will not be reimbursed for their tickets due to corporate insolvency received,” says BDKV Michow.

“The lack of awareness of this problem… and the arguments with which this application was rejected by the governing parties are shocking. I find it irresponsible that the explosive nature of the problem is being ignored in this way.”

The government rubber-stamped the appointment of parliamentary state secretary Michael Kellner as official contact for the cultural and creative industries, with Dr Andreas Görgen, head of office for the culture and media commissioner, named as deputy.

“The economic consequences of the pandemic, which are still affecting us, cannot be cured by treating new wounds alone”

However, the BDKV is indignant about federal parliament member Dr Joe Weingarten’s claim that the previous government’s special fund for cultural events had “proved largely ineffective”.

“Anyone who describes the most important state funding, which made the economic survival of the cultural events industry possible in the first place, as ‘ineffective’ shows that they obviously lack any knowledge of the reality of the industry,” says Michow.

“Without the profitability aid and the failure protection, numerous companies would not have survived the crisis, despite all the considerable aid.”

Michow says the sector is grateful for the government’s intervention on the energy crisis, with event companies set to benefit as part of a €1 billion funding plan for cultural institutions. But he adds that the economic consequences of the pandemic “cannot be cured by treating new wounds alone”.

“It is not enough to just focus on dealing with the consequences of the energy crisis, while the industry has not even absorbed the effects of the corona pandemic,” he says. “Anyone who really wants the variety of cultural events to be maintained must finally analyse the current overall situation in the industry with us and work out an overall concept in dialogue with us, which will actually finally enable us to make a real new start.”

 


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