Press release

Comparative cultural policy study: Berlin on a par with London, Paris, New York

Berlin’s cultural policy needs to overcome two-class public support. / Too little attention given to the digital age and the diversity of inhabitants.

The study is available for download here (in German).

Berlin, 23 September 2015 – Nowadays Berlin as a cultural hub plays in the same league as London, Paris, New York and Toronto. These cities are not only comparable when it comes to the diversity and importance of their cultural scenes, but also in terms of the challenges they face and the need for reform. This is the main result of the study “Berlin’s Cultural Policy in a Comparative Perspective”, which for the first time contrasted the cities’ cultural policies in a systematic way. The study was conducted by the Hertie School’s Centre for Cultural Policy under the guidance of Professor Helmut K. Anheier. Some of the results in a nutshell:

  • In no other surveyed city subsidies are distributed as unequally among high-cultural establishment and independent artists. The former receives 95 percent of the budget.
  • Berlin is still best at offering affordable living and work spaces to persons working in the cultural sector. However, this will change in the future. Berlin should invest in alternatives, such as subsidised hotspots of culture.
  • All cities face a declining cultural infrastructure in outlying districts. Berlin should stop this trend now, rather than build up everything anew later.
  • None of the cities’ cultural policies are adequately addressing the diverse background of their inhabitants, nor the changes brought on by digitalisation. Yet, Berlin is predisposed to putting these issue high on the agenda.
  • In Berlin the cultural policy is separated between the Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs and the Senate Chancellery for the Economy. This separation needs to end to allow for an integrated approach towards culture, the creative economy and science.

Berlin should start collecting and distributing data relevant to cultural policy in a transparent fashion – as London, New York and Toronto have been doing.  

You can find the full study “Berlin’s Cultural Policy in a Comparative Perspective” (in German) by Janet Merkel, Postdoctoral Fellow, and Helmut K. Anheier here.