In Nuremberg’s cultural scene there has been a noticeable ferment since the chamberlain presented his cross-off list last week. Fifty million euros are to be saved, of which fifteen million come from a savings list and the rest from personnel costs. The culture alone should save 6.2 million by 2026, which corresponds to twelve percent of the overall savings target. And since Harald Riedel (SPD), who has been in office since 2008, also wrote down what he intends to cut, it was clear that things could get down to business.
The Kunsthalle, a museum for international contemporary art, and the Kunstvilla, a house for regional art, are to be closed or converted. The big crowd-pullers, the Blue Night, the Bardentreffen and the Klassik Open Air, are only to be held every two years, while the Silvestival, a smaller event at the turn of the year with magicians and fire shows, is to be canceled entirely. Also on the list are a book bus, the German Academy for Football Culture and Dürerstadt projects.
Riedel’s Wumms is in place, because he’s aiming it at the crowd’s favourites. The Bardentreffen and The Blue Night alone regularly draw around 150,000 visitors to Nuremberg’s old town. Is there a threat of a cutback, of all places in a city that just two years ago believed it could crown itself as a European Capital of Culture in 2025 – and then lost out to Chemnitz? Does the chamberlain have anything against the cultural mayor Julia Lehner from the CSU – because she is vehemently committed to the opera’s alternative venue in the former Nazi congress hall, a construction project that will put a heavy strain on the city’s coffers over the next ten years?
In the city parliament, the CSU and SPD form a majority, a partnership of convenience, underpinned by a framework agreement. Another ten parties sit on the city council and operate clientele politics for their respective scene. Nevertheless, initially the three largest groups (CSU, SPD, Greens) objected to the austerity list. There is talk of “clear cut” and “shaving”, one is reminded of the indirect profitability of cultural events, of the devastating external effects of threats of closure. The Greens see slimming potential at the big summer festivals.
Successful with third-party funds
Under the name KunstKulturQuartier, the city maintains seven houses or venues and an information center. Compared to the overall budget, the culture budget is still a peanut at 4.3 percent. The former cultural department now operates under the name of the culture division, the budget for the three large open-air events mentioned is 550,000 euros, the rest of the actual financial requirement of around 1.5 million euros was obtained from third-party funds through sponsors, admissions and catering licenses . These grants are available at the moment when there is public speculation as to whether the open-air festivals will take place reliably in the future. Something always gets stuck.
Julia Lehner holds the dual function of Deputy Mayor and Cultural Officer. She has been a professional politician since 2002 and as such is not without controversy. For years, stickers have been stuck to the “Leider Lehner” lanterns, signaling dissatisfaction with their policies. But cultural policy has always been a popular bone of contention in Nuremberg. For example, one of the predecessors in the office of the current treasurer, Ulrich Maly, who later served as mayor for many years, wanted to sell the Kunsthalle, which is now under threat and not a crowd puller, and set up a discount store there.
In two weeks there will be budget consultations, maybe then you will also find out what exactly is behind the item “public relations, guest hospitality”, which is on the cross-off list with half a million euros. And finally, another clock is ticking quite loudly: In January, a committee of inquiry could start work in the Bavarian state parliament, which the Greens, SPD and FDP want to set up. It’s about the Nuremberg Museum of the Future and the role played by the Finance Minister at the time, Markus Söder, in the construction and awarding of the lease, which the opposition criticized as being completely overpriced.