Germany sets aside €2.5 billion to reboot pandemic-hit cultural events

Germany sets aside €2.5 billion to reboot pandemic-hit cultural events
People watch a concert by the Sylvie Courvoisier Trio in Moers, North Rhine-Westphalia on May 23rd. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Thissen
Germany on Wednesday unveiled a €2.5 billion fund to revive the country's pandemic-battered cultural sector and encourage organisers to start planning events again now that the coronavirus outlook is improving.

The fund will supplement ticket sales for events where venues’ audience sizes must be limited because of hygiene precautions, and provide insurance in case events have to be cancelled or postponed should the pandemic worsen again.

“It’s about giving people the courage to make plans,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told a press conference, “so that we can bring our diverse cultural sector back to life”.

The financial assistance will kick in from July 1st for events with up to 500 participants, followed by events for up to 2,000 attendees from August.

The cancellation insurance will cover larger events from September.

Organisers of concerts, theatre shows, comedy festivals, opera and variety performances, readings and movie screenings will all be eligible to tap the fund.

However, it comes after one of Germany’s biggest celebrations – Oktoberfest in Munich – was already cancelled this year. 

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Germany recently manged to break a third Covid-19 wave and is cautiously looking forward to a more carefree summer after months of shutdowns.

The country’s closely-watched 7-day incidence rate fell to 46.8 new infections per 100,000 people on Wednesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute, marking the first time since October that the figure was below 50.

READ ALSO: Can Germany keep the Covid incidence under the 50 mark?

As in other countries, Germany’s cultural sector has been badly affected by coronavirus mitigation measures, with theatres, concert venues and cinemas the first to close down at the start of the pandemic and among the last to reopen.

Germany’s coronavirus curbs vary from state to state, but some outdoor theatre and opera performances resumed in Berlin last week.

READ ALSO: ‘Feels like we’re free again’: Berliners enjoy outdoor dining as restrictions ease

Culture Minister Monika Grütters said the new fund, which comes on top of existing government assistance for businesses and artists hit by pandemic closures, represents Germany’s biggest-ever support package for culture.

“It is recognition for the burden placed on the cultural sector during the corona crisis, but also a recognition of the sector’s importance,” she told
reporters.

“Many of us have missed the shared experience of culture,” Grütters said, not just as entertainment but as “an invitation to doubt ourselves, think and debate”.

The German Culture Council, an umbrella organisation of cultural groups, welcomed the fund as a way to “reduce the financial risks” of planning
audience events.

 “The doors to culture must reopen as soon as possible,” Council head Olaf Zimmermann said. “This will help us do that.”


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