Germany pledges €2.5bn in aid for cultural events

The funding, available for small events from 1 July, will also include cancellation insurance for large events planned from September

“With this we are ensuring that theatre performances, readings and cinema screenings can happen again soon,” Germany's finance minister says Municipal theatre in Baden-Baden, Germany. Photo: Gerd Eichmann

The German government has approved €2.5bn in aid for cultural events to compensate organisers of festivals, theatres, concerts, readings and lectures for losses in revenue including limits on ticket sales due to pandemic social distancing requirements. The aid also covers insurance for large cultural events in case of forced cancellations.

The new package, approved by the cabinet on 26 May, is designed to provide a boost to hard-hit cultural venues and festivals as they gear up to reopen after the pandemic. “With this we are ensuring that theatre performances, readings and cinema screenings can happen again soon,” the finance minister Olaf Scholz said in a statement. “And it’s coming at exactly the right time. I am optimistic that a diverse cultural life can soon start up again in our cities and communities.”

Under the current rules in Berlin, only open-air theatres and cinemas are permitted to open and spectators must show a negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination. But the average weekly number of new infections is falling across the country as the vaccination drive accelerates: more than 40% of German adults have now had at least one shot.

The funding is available from 1 July for events with up to 500 spectators and from 1 August for larger events with up to 2,000 people. Concerts and festivals with audiences of more than 2,000 planned from 1 September can apply for cancellation insurance.

The new aid comes on top of €2bn already allocated to help cultural infrastructure weather the lockdown and separate subsidies for the self-employed. The state of Hamburg will manage a central internet platform to register cultural events eligible for the funding and the state of North-Rhine Westphalia is setting up a hotline to provide assistance to the organisers of events in applying for the support.