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News from Germany / May 2021

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

Germany in culture lockdown since Nov 3rd

In Germany, the Corona situation is starting to improve gradually. The government sees the current numbers (incidence 150 to seven days) still with concern, although the third wave seems to diminish slowly. All culture venues, sports, non-food stores remain closed. However, the situation in hospitals is currently starting to relax - the death rate is very low. Vaccinations are proceeding rather slowly; currently, only 26 percent of the population in Germany has been vaccinated at least once.

Unfortunately, the German government has successfully implemented a new law into the law against infection, called „Bundesnotbremse “. Instead of the regional „Länder” governments, now the federal state decides that no tourism/shops, etc. can take place if the numbers are above 100 / 100.000 and it leads to the first German real curfew for the respective regions from 22h - 5h. In zones with an incidence of more than 165, schools have to close.

All theatres are currently closed, but in some parts of northern Germany fortunately the infection rate is very low and they have the chance to play in front of an audience starting in May. Several regions and towns had engaged in model experiments with a tested audience in March and April, like Berlin or the theatre of Saarbrucken with great success. The Bavarian State Opera in Munich had proved in October 2020 in a scientific study that there is no such danger of infection in its performances. However, the opera was not allowed to open the doors for the premiere of Rosenkavalier on March 21 at the last minute’s decision - despite a maximum capacity of only 30 percent and tested audiences. The lawsuit put up by the movement „Aufstehen für die Kunst” was turned down by the court on March 23rd in the first urgent legal procedure. Now they are planning to go German supreme court.

There are also several appeals to the Supreme Court about the „Bundesnotbremse” by the opposition parties because they think that the new law is not under the constitution. If it stays valid there cannot be any in- or outdoor performances if the incidence is over 100/100.000. The only exception to come together is for demonstrations and church services.

Rehearsals are taking place in operas according to corona rules, and some performances are streamed. There is no uniform compensation scheme for streamed performances. In general, at least one performance fee is paid as a „real performance in front of an audience.

Rehearsals are taking place in operas according to corona rules, and some performances are streamed. There is no uniform compensation scheme for streamed performances. In general, at least one performance fee is paid as a „real performance in front of an audience.

Currently, all theatres are postponing planning for the coming season - some houses have already cancelled the rest of the season until the end of June. Preliminary agreements for the autumn are made, but contracts are rarely issued.

The cancellation compensations that have been paid differ a lot in Germany.

There is a so-called Berlin regulation that provides for a maximum of €10,000 to be paid per artist per season. The Hamburg State Opera has joined this model. In new contracts, default payments of 20-30% are offered, and corona clauses are integrated into the contracts. In the meantime, several lawsuits are pending before the courts, but there has been no decision so far because in most cases the theatres have requested extensions of time in the first hearings. However, there are initial tendencies for judges to stipulate payment of at least 50% for replacement payments in normal guest contracts with standardized clauses. So those who go the court route will in any case be better off than if they accept a recompensation of, say, 20%.

Interestingly, there are also some theatres’, mostly smaller ones, that guarantee payment of 50 - 100 percent for cancelled contracts from the outset. So it depends each time on the artistic director how much he tries to fight for the guest artists with financial authorities for payments. The German theatre union GDBA has a big member’s meeting on May 18th, where, among other things, it is requested that the normal employment contract shall be supplemented by a standard guest contract. Krea[K]tiv is involved in several of these working groups as members of the GDBA. We are also striving for a round table between all artists' unions and the employers and politicians to implement better social security for freelancers.

The situation of state funding continues to be very difficult. Because the pandemic has lasted so long, many artists have run out of their entitlement to unemployment benefit 1. Unfortunately, the state aid is quite modest, currently, it is about 1.200 € per month, but only if you have not worked a single day at a theatre, between January 1 and July 30, 2021, and only for this period.

Current surveys by the German Music Council show that about 20 percent of freelance artists are already changing jobs and about 40 percent of music students are not entering the profession and decide to change profession. Since March 2020 freelance artists have lost 42 % of their income on average and have received a state funding of about 30 % of their loss, but 41 % could not apply for the funding because they were not eligible because of the legal status as i.e. singers in theatres’ who pay social security benefits.

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News from Germany / Nov 2021

All theatres and opera houses in Germany have reopened and are playing again. Unfortunately, the situation is now entirely dependent on how the respective federal state (Bundesland) handles the Corona


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