Statement by Foreign Minister Maas on support for international cultural relations during the coronavirus crisis
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt not only by the cultural sector in Germany, but also at the level of international cultural cooperation. The German Government will provide additional funding to the Goethe-Institut and to the German schools abroad so that they can continue their important work of presenting Germany as a country that is open to the world and believes in global solidarity.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas today (14 May) issued the following statement in this regard:
International cultural policy is indispensable for the foreign policy of societies that wish to continue their encounters and networking despite the coronavirus crisis. The most important institutions for the international networking activities of our cultural scene are the Goethe-Institut, with its global network of 145 institutes in 97 countries, and the 140 German schools abroad, which are currently also adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why we in the German Government have agreed on a financial package that will make available up to 70 million euros in emergency funding to, respectively, the Goethe-Institut and the German schools abroad. I am very pleased about this, and I wish to expressly thank the German Bundestag for its support.
The Goethe-Institut, which was founded in 1951, is the largest intermediary organisation in the field of cultural relations and education policy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all of the institutes had to temporarily close their doors to the public. The Goethe-Institut, which relies on its own income for approximately one-third of its budget, is taking a severe financial hit due to the crisis. In particular the suspension of language classes and exams has significantly reduced its revenue. The support in the form of additional funding will avert cuts that would damage the cultural policy framework.
German schools abroad are a mainstay of Germany’s cultural relations and education policy. They are places of intercultural dialogue and are particularly suited to preparing pupils from different cultural backgrounds for a common future. The vast majority of Germany’s 140 schools abroad are currently closed and offering distance learning. Due to lower school fee and room rental income, a number of these schools would face permanent closure in the current circumstances without this support.