German government to help venues with energy bills
Germany’s federal government has announced plans to repurpose the remainder of its €2.5 billion event cancellation fund to help cultural institutions weather the energy crisis.
The decision comes after a government hearing last Wednesday (12 October), in which the country’s live music association BDKV said the industry would not survive the crisis without further financial aid.
Claudia Roth, minister of state for culture, says there is at least €1bn left over from the cancellation fund, which was designed to allow event organisers to plan events without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.
Details on how the fund will now be distributed are yet to be announced but Roth says the energy aid should take effect from 1 January 2023, “retrospectively to October”.
In return for the energy fund, the minister expects “that the cultural institutions act in solidarity and do everything they can to save energy”. According to Roth, the target for federally funded facilities is 20% energy savings, which she believes a lot of venues are achieving already.
“We cannot afford it, and we do not want to afford it, for cultural institutions to be closed”
However, BDKV president Jens Michow says it is a major problem for the industry that from 2023 there would no longer be any cover for event cancellations caused by the pandemic.
“[The €2.5 billion government-backed insurance pot] is expected to have remaining funds of €1.5–1.8 billion by the end of the year. We demand that all remaining funds from 2022 remain unrestricted in the economic sector for which they were originally made available,” he said.
Speaking to concerns about fresh Covid restrictions this autumn and winter, Roth said she doesn’t want cultural institutions to have to close. “We cannot afford it, and we do not want to afford it, for cultural institutions to be closed, as was the case in the first two years of the pandemic, because then our democracy will no longer have a voice.”
Last month, IQ heard from a number of European arenas who also said that skyrocketing energy costs are emerging as the sector’s biggest challenge since the Covid-19 pandemic.
AEG-owned Barclays Arena (formerly the Barclaycard Arena) in Hamburg, Germany, was among the venues that reported a “huge” increase in energy costs.
The UK government was the first to address the crisis with its Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which will see energy bills for UK businesses cut by around half of their expected level this winter.
The news followed the revelation that some UK live music venues are seeing their energy bills increase by an average of 300% –in some cases as much as 740% – adding tens of thousands of pounds to their running costs.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.