The autonomy of artistic work is considered a great good in Germany. That is why the state supports cultural institutions and creative workers extensively.
The independence of art and culture is guaranteed in the German Basic Law – Article 5 states: “Art and science, research and teaching are free.” This is based on the conviction that impulses from art and culture for a modern democratic society of are of great importance. Accordingly, the state supports cultural workers and institutions in order to ensure their independence from the free market.
Nevertheless, Culture and Artists in Germany during the Covid-19 are also funded privately, for example by companies and foundations. Public and private funding are often intertwined. The state supports the commitment of these donors, for example through tax breaks, and thus provides indirect public funding over and above the actual budget. There are also other approaches to subsidizing art and culture. The artists’ social insurance fund set up by the federal government ensures that self-employed creative workers are in a similar position to employees in terms of social security. You only have to bear half of the insurance costs yourself, the other half comes from federal subsidies and social security contributions from companies that use art and journalism.
Restart culture” program in the corona pandemic
Due to the corona pandemic, small cultural institutions and freelance artists in particular are at risk of getting into financial difficulties. The federal government has therefore launched a series of programs to support them. So-called “solo self-employed” and small companies can apply for immediate Corona aid. A total of 50 billion euros are available for this. The special Neustart Kultur program includes subsidies of around one billion euros and is aimed primarily at cultural institutions that are largely privately financed. The short-time working model is also used in the cultural sector.
From Germany’s point of view, the freedom of art and culture remains a valuable asset that is worth protecting even in the corona pandemic. This is all the more true as this autonomy has been increasingly questioned by right-wing national parties in Germany and other European countries for several years. These call for cultural subsidies to be made dependent on the content. In order to counteract this, on the initiative of the Berlin Academy of the Arts, around 60 institutions have come together to form the “Alliance of Academies in Europe” and published a manifesto in Berlin in October 2020. Accordingly, the alliance is committed to “the freedom of the arts as a prerequisite for our cultural, social and political way of life”.