France Cuts its Culture Budget for 2013, While Germany Boosts Arts Spending

With all the E.U. countries engaged in belt-tightening, it was not a surprise when France announced last month that it was cutting cultural spending next year by 4.5 percent (even if it did contradict French president François Hollande’s campaign promises). But Le Journal des Arts reports today that Germany is taking the opposite tack and will increase its arts spending for the eighth consecutive year.

The German culture budget will rise by 8 percent, even as the country’s overall federal budget is decreased by 3.1 percent. Arts spending is not seen as a subsidy, but as “an essential investment in the future of our society,” German culture minister Bernd Neumann said in a statement

The biggest study in contrasts in the two countries is the fate of national monuments and contemporary arts. The Bundeskulturstiftung, the German federal foundation for the arts, will see its budget increase by €5 million ($6.4 million), bringing its total to €40 million ($50.9 million). Meanwhile, in France, the visual arts are losing 10 percent of their state support. Germany is spending an additional €30 million ($38.1 million) on a fund for the protection and renovation of national monuments, while France is cutting its national heritage programs by a whopping €85.5 million ($108.7 million), with over half that sum affecting national monuments.

Le Journal des Arts points out, however, that France’s culture budget of €2.43 billion ($3.09 billion) is almost twice Germany’s culture budget of €1.28 billion ($1.63 billion) even though Germany has about 20 million more inhabitants. Germany’s 16 Länder or states take the lead in financial support for the arts — something that the French departments may have to become adept at, too, if such cuts become a national habit.

— Kate Deimling

(Image: Detail from Eugène Delacroix, “Le 28 Juillet : La Liberté guidant le peuple,” 1831. Via the Louvre.)