Can Germany’s bold new ideas save the industry? | Catch My Job


(Credit: Far Out / Robert Annash / Zamakasi)

the music | opinion

This week, Germany announced their innovative Kulturpass, which will be rolled out to all 18-year-olds so they can invest more in the arts and keep them alive for future generations. It is a precautionary move, which will hit the pockets of the nation in the short term, but it can make an invaluable difference to the country in the long run.

The two simple goals of the government-funded program are to pay all 18-year-olds $200, a fee that can be spent exclusively on supporting the industry, giving the sector an immediate boost. However, the secondary goal is to change the habits of a generation to attend concerts, buy records and see the theater instead of living behind the scenes.

The current generation had their lives changed by the epidemic, a situation that took them two years to participate in the show and consume traditional culture. When the live show returned, most of these age groups were not present. German authorities believe they need to gain experience in the performing arts, hoping that Coulterpass will hook them back up.

Attendance has dropped across the board since the pandemic, and if this trend continues, the future of the arts will be thrown into doubt. The country’s culture minister, Claudia Roth, told a news conference: “We want to get young people excited about the diversity of our country’s culture.”

Roth also described it as the “equivalent of a birthday gift” to 750,000 recipients in 2023, amounting to €150 million. However, if 10% of them continued to invest €200 per year for a further 60 years, this would contribute €900 million to the industrial economy and shows why the scheme makes sense.

Germany is not the first country to experiment with this approach as it was first developed by Italy in 2016. All Italians receive €500 at age 18, which can only be spent on cultural activities, including theatre. Music, books and movies. Meanwhile, President Macron made it an election promise in 2017 and finally implemented the €300 culture pass in France last year. Spain also launched a similar scheme in 2021, following success in Italy.

An interesting condition of the German Kulturpass is that online platforms such as Amazon and Spotify are banned from the scheme. So, fans of youth culture must get their kicks from local, independent cinemas, music stores or bookstores. Additionally, the purchase price will be limited to stop them from spending all of €200 on a Taylor Swift or Harry Styles concert.

In Spain, it was somewhat successful last year and 57.6% of those turning 18 in 2022 registered for the €400 voucher scheme in their first year. It remains to be seen how many of them continue to support their local independent cultural organization, be it a music venue or a bookstore.

If the plans hadn’t boosted the economy across Europe and helped improve the state of the homegrown industry scene, Kulterpass wouldn’t have been rolled out across Germany.

In Britain, as much as the cultural scene needs to grow, this current Tory government has little to dream about. While it could potentially be hugely beneficial to the economy and inspire the minds of a generation, the arts are nothing more than an afterthought for those in power.

The British version of Coulterpass is a non-starter, despite the government’s unsanitary failed Rwanda experiment costing the same amount and having tangible benefits for the nation. It is the most obvious answer to the inevitable problem that could sadly rob Britain of its greatest export, culture, which the Conservatives should be trying to preserve.


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