Germany Is Still Proving It’s Way Better at Arts Relief Than the U.S.

Claudia Roth, Germany's freshly minted Minister of State for Culture and Media, already has big plans.

Claudia Roth, Minister of State for Culture and Media on December 17 2021. Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images

For many different reasons over the past few years, Germany has proven itself to be a progressive and forward-thinking country when it comes to the support of its artistic community, and it seems that Claudia Roth, the new culture minister of Germany, will continue that trend. Already during her tenure, Roth has facilitated the solidification of an agreement signed by the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats that guarantees commitment to a robust Covid-19 recovery program. This is a definitive continuation of consideration for the arts sector that German officials have already displayed.

As early on in the pandemic as March of 2020, Germany rolled out an aid program that promised to allocate $54 billion in resources to freelancers and small businesses who’d been walloped by the pandemic. “The cultural sector in particular is characterized by a high proportion of self-employed people who now have problems with their livelihoods, former culture minister Monika Grütters said at the time. In 2021, Germany went on to allocate a further $1.2 billion to the cultural sector. In comparison to the meager provisions that have been doled out to Americans, even as the pandemic reaches new statistical peaks, Germany seems like a forward-thinking wonderland.

Roth in particular is committed to the restitution of Nazi-looted art, and Germany has also already initiated accelerated talks and plans for returning looted Benin bronzes to Nigeria. Additionally, Roth has put her commitment to reducing energy use within the country’s museums and making these institutions more sustainable on the record. “It cannot be the case that we build new museums without giving sustainability criteria a leading role,” Roth has said.

In December of 2020, a United States COVID-19 relief bill was passed that allocated $15 billion towards live music venues, theatrical spaces and famous cultural institutions, but years have passed since then and much more help and consideration for cultural workers in America is still sorely needed. Germany Is Still Proving It’s Way Better at Arts Relief Than the U.S.