The silver lining of over a year of closed clubs and music venues: their absence has been felt not only by fervent club-goers but by society at large, as reflected in a vote in federal parliament to reclassify them as ‘cultural institutions’ rather than ‘entertainment venues’.
Outside a club in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Gloria Nelli via Pixabay
With this new status comes new protections from rocketing rent prices and benefits such as tax breaks, which are sorely needed against the context of increasing cases of clubsterben (clubs dying out). In the last ten years, over 100 Berlin clubs have had to close, with many more in danger due to rapid urban development and gentrification.
However, many argue that this motion is merely symbolic, and not enough in itself to save Berlin's clubs. One of the primary issues is tenancy protection laws, which encompass noise complaints and restrictions that impact clubs disproportionately.
As a result, campaigners have proposed further protections, such as the ‘agent of change’ principle which is already in force in London. It means that new property owners who move into the vicinity of an existing club would themselves be responsible for noise protection measures. But for now, the new recognition is an important first step. Pamela Schobeß, CEO of LiveKomm, an association of music venues in Germany, said: "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."