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Neustart Kultur: Germany pledges €150m for live music

The German federal government has pledged €150 million for the live music industry as part of a €1 billion package to revive Germany’s coronavirus-crippled creative sector.

The 12-month Neustart Kultur (‘Restart Culture’) programme will make available €150m for live music – ie “music venues, festivals, [concert] organisers and agents”, according to a government press release – alongside new funding for theatre and dance (also €150m), cinemas and the film sector (€120m), radio broadcasters (€20m), and galleries, book publishers and other “socio-cultural centres” (€30m), among others.

A total of €450m is also available to make “cultural institutions fit for reopening”. Intended for organisations which don’t already receive public funding, the grant will finance “new hygiene concepts”, such as paper-free ticketing or improved ventilation systems in venues.

Karsten Schoelermann, head of German venue association LiveKomm, who appeared on yesterday’s IQ Focus panel, Grassroots Music Venues in Crisis, says he hopes a significant portion of the scheme will be directed to grassroots music venues. “We must now find out how we can keep our [small] music stages alive, and get them ready for a new start,” he explains.

“We will support cinemas and music clubs … to reopen their doors as soon as possible”

Monika Grütters, Germany’s federal commissioner for culture and the media, says the aid should be matched by “concrete steps for reopening” on the part of those receiving it. “Culture is not a luxury that you can only afford in good times,” she adds.

Neustart Kultur is the latest package of support measures for the German creative industries during the Covid-19 pandemic, following a €50bn “rescue umbrella” of grants and loans in late March and the introduction of a ticket voucher scheme to protect promoters’ cash flow early the following month.

“With an additional one billion euros, we support the restarting of cultural life in Germany and set the course for the future,” comments Grütters. “I am proud to say that this is almost exactly half of our annual budget, which has grown significantly over the past few years.

“We will support cinemas and music clubs, memorials and museums, theatres and festivals, and many other cultural institutions to reopen their doors as soon as possible. For us, maintaining and securing Germany’s cultural infrastructure is the key to creating job opportunities for artists across the country once more.”


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Germany pledges €550bn aid for corona-hit businesses

The German government has announced economic stimulus worth more than half a trillion euros to protect business against the effects of the coronavirus, in the biggest financial aid package in the country’s post-war history.

The KfW, Germany’s state development bank, will make available to companies at least €550 billion, and that’s just “for starters”, said Germany’s finance minister, Olaf Scholz, on Friday (13 March). “There is no upper limit to the credit offered by the KfW, that’s the most important message,” he said at a press briefing.

Even in its first stage, the rescue package is bigger than the €500bn help offered during the 2008 financial crisis and credit crunch, reports AFP.

Culture minister Monika Grütters says the aid will also benefit the creative industries, which are worth €100bn to the German economy, according to public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

“You can be courageous; the risks will be carried by us”

Additional help is planned for freelance artists, musicians and filmmakers, according to Grütters (pictured), while cultural organisations receiving subsidies will not have to repay them, even if events are cancelled.

A Danish-style emergency aid fund for creative businesses is also under discussion, she adds.

The German government has recommended cancelling gatherings of more than 1,000 people in order to combat the spread of the virus. Several German industry associations have previously called for financial assistance to the live music sector to mitigate the damage caused by cancellations and closures.

According to Scholz, there is no planned end to the wider financial stimulus: “If [the crisis] it lasts longer, we can go on longer,” he said, adding that message to business is: “You can be courageous; the risks will be carried by us.”


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