Germans turning 18 will receive a €200 culture pass


Young people in Germany who are about to turn 18 will receive a “birthday gift” from the government: a voucher worth 200 euros for cultural activities. This type of scheme, which has already been implemented in a number of European countries like France, Italy, and Spain, intends to motivate young people to go out and experience live culture by visiting theaters or concerts, as well as provide the artistic scene, which hasn’t fully recovered from repeated lockdowns, a financial boost.

The €200 Kulturpass, represents the “equivalent of a birthday present” for the 750,000 people who will turn 18 in 2023, said Germany’s culture minister, Claudia Roth. Those eligible can redeem their credit through a digital platform and app, which provides a direct connection to a virtual marketplace that includes everything from bookstores to cinemas.

Finance minister, Christian Lindner, described the pass as “cultural start-up capital” that its recipients can use within a two-year period. The project supports smaller, often local cultural organisations such as independent cinemas and bookshops and aims to get young people excited about the diversity of the German culture. That is why online platforms like Amazon and Spotify have been excluded from the scheme. Also, individual purchases will be limited in value to prevent the voucher being used to buy, for example, a single concert ticket for €200.

At the launch of the Kulturpass, in a joint press conference by Culture Minister Claudia Roth and Finance Minister Christian Lindner, said that if the pilot project is successful, the offer will become permanent and will probably be extended to a wider age group, possibly from 15 upwards. The introduction of the cultural pass will cost the German state about €100m, in addition to the country’s annual €2.3bn cultural budget.

Olaf Zimmerman, the executive director of the German Cultural Council, said the voucher was a “meaningful way to support both young people and the world of culture which have suffered in particular from the pandemic”, urging the culture ministry to make the project’s guidelines clear soon, “to ensure this really is a birthday present for soon-to-be 18 year olds”.

In the neighbouring country, France, a cultural pass worth €300, is available to 18-year-olds since last year, even though it was first proposed in President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 election campaign. In Italy, a “culture bonus” of €500, is awarded since 2016. According to the Italian Ministry of Culture, the bonus was mostly spent on books, followed by music products and concert tickets. Earlier this year, Spain established its own Youth Cultural Bonus project, granting 18-year-olds €400 to spend on culture.