German Coalition Contract: What’s in it for Culture?

Better social security for artists, strong and divers cultural and creative sectors, an international programme to support freedom of expression, and a Green minister for culture – the new German government’s cultural policy will bear the Greens’ signature.

Yesterday, the new German government of Social Democrats (SPD), The Greens and the Liberal Party (FDP) presented their coalition treaty, following several weeks of negotiations. The treaty has the potential to mark the beginning of a progressive shift in German politics — also in respect to cultural policy.

Straightforward the beginning of the chapter on cultural and media policy highlights the political power of culture and the importance of protecting it as a space of freedom and diversity: “We want to make culture possible with everyone by ensuring their diversity and freedom […]. We are convinced: cultural and artistic impulses can promote the departure of our society, they inspire and create public debate spaces. We are committed to a strong cultural scene and creative economy. We stand for a non-discriminatory cultural and media policy. We want to anchor culture in its diversity as a national goal and advocate accessibility, diversity, gender equality and sustainability.” (all translations from the German mine)

As freedom of expression is threatened across the globe, the new coalition treaty envisages a strong role of cultural diplomacy in German foreign affairs: “We support threatened scientists, lawyers, artists and students and set up a programme for journalists and defenders of freedom of expression.”

I fully support this approach and believe that such a programme can have a significant impact, also within the EU. Over the past year, however, I have been stressing that the freedom of culture must be protected not only by the freedom of artistic expression — but also by saving the social security of those who make culture happen. The existential fears and the de facto losses of livelihoods of authors, performers and other cultural creators curtail cultural diversity and ultimately undermine freedom of expression – both at the expense of our whole society.

I am happy that the coalition treaty also sees the close link between freedom and social security, highlighting that „improving the social situation of artists is a contribution to safeguarding our democracy in these times. We are therefore committed to a strong cultural scene and creative economy that can continue and flourish again.“

Across the EU, there is a lot to be done with regards to overcoming the negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis, creating a sustainable cultural ecosystem, safeguarding cultural diversity, and guaranteeing social security and financial independence of cultural creators. In this context, I’m especially happy see that the coalition treaty highlights the important role of the “Künstlersozialkasse” (German artists’ social security fund): “During the corona pandemic, the special importance of the artists’ social security fund for the social protection of creative and cultural workers has proven itself. We want to ensure this in the future as well.” I will continue my fight for an EU-wide social security funding system for all European authors, performers and other cultural creators.

Last but not least, let’s talk about leading figures (specific names still to be revealed): The new State Minister for Culture and Media will be from the Greens, allowing for a strong impact of my party. Myself, I will make sure to bring important issues of EU cultural policy and the needs of the European cultural and creative sectors to the new State Minister’s attention. Furthermore, the new German Foreign Minister will be from the Greens, making the government’s commitment to support freedom of expression internationally even more credible. Finally, the next German EU Commissioner is quite likely to be a Green, too!

I am sure: Under the new government, we can look forward to having Germany as a strong partner in the fight for freedom, diversity and social security in the Cultural and Creative Sectors!

Roundtable on Music Streaming

Streaming services have completely transformed the way we listen to music – and pay for it. For artists, the work and income structures have thus significantly changed in recent years. Yet it is my no means certain that many clicks lead to a decent income. Aside from few superstars, there are 99 percent of whom…

Read more

Culture & Media