Government funded Die Toten Hosen and Tokio Hotel concerts
German government funding for culture is usually earmarked for non-commercial ventures – yet tens of thousands of euros have been spent supporting overseas concerts by huge bands such as Die Toten Hosen and Tokio Hotel.
A written parliamentary question to the minister of state for culture Bernd Neumann, elicited a 58-page answer on the matter, according to Die Welt newspaper.
Neumann listed more than €68,000 spent to help stage concerts by the veteran rock band Die Toten Hosen in three repressive Central Asian countries - and more than €25,000 that was spent to support a gig by pop act Tokio Hotel, one of the most internationally successful German bands over the last few years.
The Tokio Hotel money helped to cover costs for a concert in Tokyo, not necessarily a country where audiences have a hard time finding bands to see. Despite repeated requests, no-one from the band’s management or label, Universal, could provide a comment.
Yet Die Toten Hosen defended using the government money for five gigs in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, saying the band put much more of its own money into the tour.
Guitarist for the band Breiti, told The Local that although the German Foreign Ministry had helped, particularly in dealing with the authorities, he saw no conflict with the band’s well-known vocal support of human rights.
He said the German embassies in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan had invited Die Toten Hosen to play at local concerts – an opportunity the band had been pleased to accept.
“We know what difficulties bands and fans of any kind of rock music often have to face in dictatorships. And what it can mean to them when they have the chance to see a concert of a band playing their favourite kind of music who takes the effort to come to their country and play for them,” he said.
“Without the help of the German embassies, it would have been impossible to organize these concerts. Even for them it was difficult, because in all of these countries rock concerts normally don’t happen and are regarded as a threat to the authorities.”
He said the band had spent around €100,000 on costs for travel and crew to play the concerts – and that the embassies had covered the local costs. Other artists had played the concerts too, he said.
A statement on Foreign Ministry sponsorship said money was used to promote “art projects directly in individual cases, if foreign policy considerations and also the project volume speak in their favour.”
In its report, Die Welt criticised what it called the tangle of payments made to institutions, large, small, short- and long-term cultural projects – also to highly successful groups and projects.
It said funding was available from a range of ministries including family, education, economy, defence and foreign, and that coordination was only undertaken by the Culture Ministry when necessary.
Yet the paper said there were no set criteria for deciding what group, orchestra or choir receives federal funding. Much culture funding is handled by the states, with the federal government only becoming involved when there is an over-arching national consideration.
In 2010 the federal government spent more than €44 million on music sponsorship. This includes long-term payments such as annual payments to the Bayreuth Festspiele. The top recipient, according to Die Welt, was the Runfunk Orchester und Chöre Berlin GmbH (ROC), the company which organises Berlin’s two symphony orchestras, the city’s radio choir and chamber choir.
It gets around €11.9 million a year. Behind the ROC comes the Netzwerk Neue Musik with €4.15 million and the initiative ‘An instrument for every child’ which gets nearly €3.5 million a year.
The section titled ‘support of professional popular music’ included not only the Tokio Hotel and Die Toten Hosen money, but also a one off payment of €75,000 for the Echo Jazz – an award ceremony put on by the record industry in order to promote its jazz sales.