10-Point Plan Announced To Salvage Neglected German Events Industry

Alarmstufe Rot: Event professionals in Germany took to the streets of Berlin, Sept. 9, to demonstrate that their industry is in trouble.
Klaus Jackelmann
– Alarmstufe Rot: Event professionals in Germany took to the streets of Berlin, Sept. 9, to demonstrate that their industry is in trouble.
A second protest ist scheduled for Oct. 9.

Two politicians of Germany’s green party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, part of the non-governing opposition in the country’s parliament, have co-signed a 10-point plan for salvaging the country’s event sector.
Both signatories, Robert Habeck and Erhard Grundl, acknowledge that the financial aid packages currently offered by Germany’s ruling parties (CDU/CSU and SPD) don’t take into account the realities of the event sector and its individual protagonists.
From left: Robert Habeck, federal chairman of Germany
Nadine Stegemann/Foto: Erhard Grundl
– From left: Robert Habeck, federal chairman of Germany
The opposition usually has no kind words for the job the ruling party is doing. It remains to be seen what the 10-point plan can achieve.

Even seven months after the German government shut down its public life, making it clear that live events were the first economy to be shut down and the last to reopen, many creatives and cultural companies are still falling through the cracks of the bureaucracy behind distributing the money. 

In an interesting insight into the political process, Habeck and Grundl explain why many live events businesses don’t qualify for Germany’s main cultural stimulus package, dubbed “Neustart Kultur,” which translates as “Restart Culture.”
Many of the individuals working in live don’t qualify for this program, because they cannot name a reopening date or plan future events to mark said restart. Ironically, they cannot do that due to the government imposed event ban.
The authors of the plan bemoan a lack of legal and financial security, stating, that “the aid programs of the federal government are failing.”
Even if the money dripped down all the way down to individual venue owners and independent concert promoters, it wouldn’t nearly be enough to cover the losses incurred since March.
The authors remind their colleagues in parliament of the fact that the live events sector is Germany’s sixth-largest industry, turning over €130 billion ($153 billion) per year and employing some one million people – including artists, promoters, bookers, agents, managers, sound and light technicians, security personnel, stage builders, caterers, drivers and countless more.
They’ve been having a hard time getting their applications for the country’s various aid programs approved. The interim aid programs introduced by culture minister Monika Grütters are “too bureaucratic and demanding,” according to Habeck and Grundl.
It chimes with what one of Germany’s most successful promoters, who wished not to be quoted in name, told Pollstar.
Germany's culture minister on the federal level: Monika Grütters.
Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images
– Germany’s culture minister on the federal level: Monika Grütters.
The financial aid packages announced aren’t working for large parts of the live industry.

Having spoken to politicians from every party in the German parliament, bar one, he came to the conclusion that most politicians are simply afraid to make a decision – like a reopening date, which live professionals all over the world have been demanding above all else from their respective governments.

He said that his concepts to bring back audiences safely, in line with government restrictions, got approved by health experts many times. Since politicians, however, are motivated by votes, their main goal during this crisis was not to make a decision that could be interpreted as wrong in the aftermath.
It led to a state of paralysis in times when urgent action was needed.
The promoter said, one of the main reasons the live sector was being left behind was the fact that it never formed a proper lobby, neither in Germany nor in Europe, which would be strong enough to get politicians to take it as seriously as, for instance, they take the aviation and rail industries, who are both allowed to continue to operate (almost) at capacity.  
The 10-point plan just released by the German green party addresses most of the criticisms individual live professionals and industry associations have been raising over the past months, such as the lack of planning security, insufficient funds and an adjustments of the funding programs to better address the needs of this highly individualized business.
The 10 points are:
1) A interim financial aid program for the events sector, granting all threatened companies a monthly subsidy of 2% of last year’s turnover.
2) Having regular crisis dialogues with this industry’s experts in parliament, in order to fully understand live
3) Introducing a blanket basic income of €1,200 ($1,400) for solo self-employed professionals, becoming effective retroactively and country-wide.
4) Creating planning security by establishing a protective financial shield that guarantees to unbureaucratically compensate losses incurred from events that need to be cancelled in the future.
5) Adjusting the terms of the government’s loan schemes to fit the events industry.
6) Adjusting the scope of EU grants, which are currently limited to €800,000 per company. As Germany’s promoters association BDKV has been pointing out, this wasn’t nearly enough to compensate the losses of even a small company, given the immense sales collapse combined with the unusually long duration of this crisis.
7) Venues, in particular, need to be protected – legally and financially.
8) The creation of an emergency contact point that informs everybody of the many different help programs for culture introduced by the German federal government, as well as its 16 individual states – which can become quite confusing.
9) Expanding and supporting scientific research into infection protection at live events.
10) Making the events industry crisis-proof for a time after Corona, which means creating “better social and economic safety nets for all creatives.”
The authors then go on to elaborate on the individual points in more detail. Pollstar has reached out to the press office of the green party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, to find out how much clout such a 10-point plan penned by an opposing party can hold in German parliament, but hadn’t heard back at press time.
They write, “we need the events industry,” and “we need festival, club, theater and concert visits.”
“Art and culture events carry enormous significance for social cohesion,” the text continues, emphasizing that it was not just about the economic survival of this business, but the survival of a means of democratic exchange. 
And they conclude that if this sector loses all of its creatives and workers, it’ll remain quiet even after Corona.