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German clubs and live music venues now declared cultural institutions

A year-long campaign leads to a defining moment in German clubbing history, with nightclubs and live music venues officially protected.

Berghain Berlin

The Live Musik Kommission’s website published a press release on behalf of the Club Culture and Nightlife Forum on Friday 7th May 2021. It confirmed the German Bundestag passed a resolution drafted and supported by representatives from parliamentary groups to recognise music clubs and live music venues under building law as facilities for cultural purposes.

In addition to the cultural recognition this will provide to clubs and music venues, selected venues will also benefit from tax breaks, protected from removal or threat of closure, whilst also giving greater freedom to operate in more parts of the city.

The type of venues deemed to fall under the cultural bracket includes theatres, museums, concert halls, while others protected under entertainment include betting shops, brothels, arcades, and cinemas.

The Club Culture and Nightlife Forum press release went on to say:

“Clubs are culture. Not just since today, but for many millions of people for decades. This week, as the German Bundestag, we confirmed this cultural status of music clubs and live music venues and thus confirmed and honoured the achievements of the operators, artists, employees, and freelancers.”

Before this, Berghain was the only club in Berlin classified as a cultural institution back in 2016. The internationally renowned clubbing venue fought for the decision to be classified as “high culture”, resulting in a 12% drop in their tax rates.

Pamela Schobeß of the Berlin Club Commission went on to say:

“With today’s decision, the Bundestag is sending a strong and long overdue signal to the republic. Music clubs are cultural institutions that shape the identity of city districts as an integral part of cultural and economic life. Now, an outdated law is to be adapted to reality. This helps to keep cities and neighbourhoods alive and liveable and to protect cultural places from displacement.”

With such a historic moment in German clubbing history, will this see other major countries across Europe and further afield adopt similar approaches? Only time will tell, but usually, history tells us it takes one to step out in front and lead by example for others to follow.

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