History & Now, News & Events

Germany finally declares clubs as cultural institutions

This feels like a step towards cultural enlightenment.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
May 29, 2021

Germany has formally designated clubs and live music venues as “cultural centers.” Following a year-long campaign by activists, clubs and live music outlets will no longer be considered entertainment venues, marking a landmark victory.


Clubs in the country were formerly known as “entertainment venues,” along with arcades, betting shops, and brothels, but will now be classified as “facilities of cultural intent,” alongside opera houses, concert halls, and theaters. That way, clubs and music venues would be less vulnerable to economic growth, developers, and gentrification as a result of the decision.


Members of various political groups, including the Greens, the Left, the Free Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party of Germany, among many others, led the charge, forming the German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Forum Club Culture and Nightlife (parliament).


Pamela Schobeß, the CEO of LiveKomm, said in a press release: “With today’s decision, the Bundestag is sending a strong and long overdue signal to the republic. Music clubs are cultural institutions that shape the identity of city districts as an integral part of cultural and economic life. Now an outdated law is to be adapted to reality. This helps to keep cities and neighbourhoods alive and liveable, and to protect cultural places from displacement.”


Despite this, approximately 100 clubs have closed in Berlin alone in the last ten years, with the number now expected to be higher due to the pandemic. During the lockdown however, clubs have gotten innovative, with Berghain becoming an art venue and KitKatClub becoming a COVID-19 test center.


If we really do take the time to think about it, clubs and music venues are actual cultural institutions that also allow for entertainment. Especially in a city like Berlin, where nightlife is one of the most vibrant and important aspects of the city. This move is a signal that we are starting to see music as a cultural experience—which feels like an overdue nod of acknowledgment towards the music industry.


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