The German federal government is stepping in with a sweeping aid package for the country’s creative and cultural sectors. The staggering €50 billion ($54 billion) in backing comes less than two weeks since Germany first made its promise of support.
“We know the hardships, we know the desperation,” said culture minister Monika Grütters in a statement. “The cultural sector, in particular, is characterized by a high proportion of self-employed people who now have problems with their livelihoods.” She said that the federal government is “wholly aware” of the importance of the creative industries, adding that “Help is coming as quickly and with as little bureaucracy as possible!”
The three-part package includes up to €50 billion ($54 billion) in aid for individuals who are self-employed as well as for small businesses. It will come in the form grants designed to help with overhead costs like venue rentals and artist studios. Loans will also be available within the package to help businesses bridge financial bottlenecks. In addition to arts-related individuals and organizations, the funding will support media enterprises, including newspapers.
In addition to the stimulus money, social security (including unemployment insurance) will be made available to freelancers for a period of six months. With this, expenses for housing will be recognized to ensure that “everyone can stay in their own home.” To this end, the government is injecting another €10 billion ($11 billion) of support. The legislation also allows tenants to be protected from eviction should they be unable to pay rent. Loans may also be deferred, and individuals are permitted to ask the tax bureau for a reduction in their payments or an advance on their tax refunds.
“Our democratic society needs its unique and diverse cultural and media landscape in this historical situation, which was unimaginable until recently,” said Grütters. “The creative courage of creative people can help to overcome the crisis. We should seize every opportunity to create good things for the future. That is why the following applies: artists are not only indispensable but also vital, especially now.”
It reminds me of the famous Churchill quote:
During WWII, When Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of the war effort, he simply replied, ‘Then what are we fighting for?’