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KulturPass: The sobering first assessment of the Kultur-Pass

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KulturPass: The sobering first assessment of the Kultur-Pass

Two hundred euros as a gift from the state, to be spent in all of the country’s local cultural institutions. Thanks to the culture pass, this is currently possible – for everyone who was born in 2005. If you register online, you will even receive the voucher digitally via an app on your mobile phone. But that just sounds like paradise.

“The aim is to give young people a low-threshold path to culture,” says Simone Haydt, spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Culture in Berlin. It was there that the campaign was conceived, based on countries such as Spain and Italy, where similar projects already exist. The culture pass in Germany is still in a “pilot phase”, as they say.

In the case of the young clientele, of course, also in favor of the initiators: on the website of the Kultur-Pass there are several indications that it is a project by Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Greens) and Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner (FDP).

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A total of 5,600 companies had already registered with the federal government as participants when the campaign started on June 14th. The Ministry of Culture calculates that there are a total of 1.7 million products to which the culture pass could be applied. There would always be more. Co-initiator Roth described the pass as a “powerful signal for the cultural industry”, which they wanted to “support in a targeted manner after the tough pandemic years”.

The simple registration seems to work

And how is the culture budget going for everyone whose 18th birthday is this year? In any case, registration is relatively easy. In order to prove your age, place of residence and nationality (must be German), there is even a digital “Help Center” on the Kultur-Pass website. Apparently that works. Since the app went live, the Ministry of Culture has reported 285,000 registrations. 750,000 young adults would actually have the opportunity to do so.

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Everyone who is 18 years old or will be in the current year will receive the 200 euros for the use of local cultural offers

Quelle: dpa/Jan Woitas

The initiative is also welcomed by the cultural sector. “We are happy about everyone who finds their way to us through the KulturPass app,” says Miranda Meier, spokeswoman for the “KulturKaufhaus” Dussmann in Berlin, where books and CDs are sold, but small events also take place. However, the orders that arrive in the department store via the app are still somewhat subdued.

“They are in the single digits,” says Meier. “We assume that the numbers will increase with the start of the new school year or semester. Current orders are mainly for specialist and non-fiction literature.”

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Incidentally, the Culture Pass not only allows you to visit the museum. Going to the cinema is not a problem either. The ministry does not see this critically, says spokeswoman Haydt. Because one deliberately does not want to differentiate between “high and popular culture”, since one wants to promote freedom of choice and personal responsibility with the offer. However: shopping at large online mail order companies is not possible with the Kultur-Pass. The aim is rather to strengthen local offers.

“From an economic point of view, this is quite a waste of taxpayers’ money”

Economist Justus Haucap from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf sees reason to criticize this approach. “From an economic point of view, this is quite a waste of taxpayers’ money,” says Haucap. Overall, the federal government wants to make 100 million euros available for the passport this year.

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The funds come from the federal culture fund. He also rejects the argument that the budget should be used to compensate for the limited cultural offerings during the corona pandemic: “It’s more of a consolation that politicians are handing out at the expense of taxpayers.”

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According to Haucap, the interests of young people have been “put at the bottom of the list” in recent years. And further: “Instead of solving structural problems, it usually remains piecemeal with a symbolic character.”

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This criticism also applies to students. Above all, those who are not entitled to the culture pass in the class are disappointed by the project, says Lazlo Przybylski, who is a student board member at a Hamburg high school. “Anyone who was born just a little earlier or later has no chance of taking part in the project, although they were just as affected by the Corona policy. That’s annoying!”

How good the ministry’s balance sheet will be in autumn is not yet foreseeable. However, according to the Ministry of Culture, plans are already being made with a future for the culture pass. “We’re constantly accepting feedback,” says Haydt, the spokeswoman. If the criticism is generally positive, they want to see how the project could be continued.

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