Decolonising museums, embracing 'Green Culture' and boosting arts funding: Germany’s new culture minister reveals plans

The Arts Newspaper,
10 January 2022, Germany

Germany’s new culture minister, Claudia Roth, has taken office pledging to continue her predecessor’s work in decolonising museums, to set up a central “green culture” desk, to boost funding for the arts and to rethink both the Humboldt Forum and a planned new 20th-century art museum in Berlin.

The first Green Party culture minister, Roth, 66, has focused on human rights in her lengthy political career. But before she entered politics she worked in theatre and was once the manager of a radical left-wing rock band called Ton Steine Scherben.

In an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio, she said “Two hearts have always beat in my breast. One is the love of art and culture; that is where I come from.” The other, she said, “is a passion for democracy”.

Traditionally, culture in Germany is the preserve of the 16 states, and the culture ministry is integrated into the chancellery. The post is still not a cabinet position and was only created in 1998. But Roth’s predecessor, Monika Grütters, significantly raised its profile and oversaw a dramatic increase in the federal culture budget. For 2022, the government has approved €2.1bn, a 73% increase from 2013, the year Grütters took office.