Post-Covid - It's not all bad

It's not all bad

Culture always finds a way. In the case of the light figure "Dundu", which was moved by puppeteers in front of a clinic and a daycare center, she came to the people

Photo: Arnulf Hettrich / IMAGO

That was great news last week: The federal government is again launching a special fund for culture. 2,5 billion euros so that cultural events can take place, even if they are not economically viable due to the corona requirements. 2,5 billion to compensate for canceled events at a time when many believe that the end of the pandemic is approaching. A huge sum considering the fact that the total annual culture budget in the federal budget until 2020 was less than 2 billion. The cultural institutions and organizers have only just found out that they are allowed to reopen, and a lot of money is already available to cushion the risks.

There could be a plan behind this. The plan that a reorganization of cultural funding is pending, in which the distribution of tasks between the federal government and the states is rethought. There are already signs of this: the subsidies from the “Neustart Kultur” special fund, from which the independent scene, so far mainly a matter of the state, has profited very extensively and which has brought about an innovation boost in both the subsidy models and the production formats. “Neustart Kultur” is based on scholarship and residency programs, research, discourse and digital projects, public and stage projects, audience development and knowledge transfer.

The application process for “Neustart Kultur” has been streamlined and accelerated. One can say that a decade-long criticism of overly complex funding applications was accepted and implemented in a coup. The only disadvantage, albeit one that needs to be remedied, is that artists who could not provide evidence that they are actually artists could not apply. Second disadvantage: “Restart culture” is not sustainable. The projects must be developed, completed and accounted for within a year, and then that's the end of it.

This is exactly where it should be: 2,5 billion is a lot of money. In the current phase of the pandemic, the aim is not only to spend the enormous amounts of funding to save what can still be saved, but also to develop innovative projects and structures in a sustainable manner. By that I mean above all digitization or sustainable funding exactly where art reflects society. For example, when it comes to topics such as climate change, post-colonialism and looted art, migration and flight, inclusion and discriminatory structures. With regard to the diversification of the public, the “Art for All” offensive from the 1970s needs to be rethought.

All of these questions are laid out in “New Start Culture”. The pilot project is running. Politicians should sit down with artists and cultural managers right now in order to establish sustainable and non-pandemic-prone funding structures for the cultural sector. The alliance of international production houses can also provide impetus for this. The pandemic has painfully shown what we have been discussing for decades: We need a new funding system that recognizes and safeguards freelance artists and their value for society. A funding system that recognizes the social value of art and is useful for artistic innovation.

Amelie Deuflhard is the artistic director at Kampnagel in Hamburg