Bundesrechnungshof kritisiert komplizierte Vergabe von »Kulturmilliarden«
The Federal Court of Auditors criticizes a lack of efficiency in the allocation of COVID-19 aid to the cultural sector in a new report. The report, which has not yet been published, states that „aid may not have reached the recipients in a timely manner during the peak of the pandemic, and as a result, economic effects may not have occurred in a timely manner.“ The report has been obtained by SPIEGEL.
By the end of April 2022, when most nationwide containment measures to combat the pandemic had expired, less than half of the budgeted program funds, amounting to 926 million euros, had been distributed.
The allocation of the so-called cultural billions was the responsibility of Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth (Green Party), and the program „Neustart Kultur“ was initiated under her predecessor Monika Grütters (CDU). Due to the fragmented nature of the cultural sector, she divided the four program components into 88 building blocks and coordinated their design with nearly 40 umbrella and industry associations, according to the report.
According to the auditors, this approach was not very efficient. For instance, 55 of the program components accounted for less than one percent of the program volume individually.
The Federal Audit Office acknowledges that the Commissioner for Culture had to design the program under high time pressure and was „actively engaged“ in doing so. However, she did not utilize available project management methods. „By failing to promptly establish a suitable project organization, she lost valuable time to structure the program.“
According to the report, the late disbursement of many funds also increased the risk of „free-rider effects“ – that is, assistance to businesses that did not really need such coronavirus aid to survive. For example, a total of 7291.75 euros flowed to the private museum in Potsdam owned by Springer CEO Matthias Döpfner. The auditors also see an indication of free-rider effects in the fact that the cultural and creative industries showed a „robust insolvency situation“ compared to the overall economy.
Roth assured the Audit Office that they would investigate the program for potential effects of opportunism. However, she doubted that bankruptcies were the appropriate indicator for this. From her perspective, the project organization had been „appropriate and promptly implemented.“ Nevertheless, she would „attempt to take into account the recommendations of the Federal Audit Office from the beginning in the next global crisis situation.“
In der Linken sieht man die Kulturmilliarden generell als unzureichend an. »Es gibt sehr viele Künstlerinnen und Künstler, die dauerhaft in prekären Verhältnissen leben«, sagte Haushaltspolitikerin Gesine Lötzsch. Diesen sei mit einmaligen Hilfen wenig geholfen. Zudem sei das Programm »viel zu komplex angelegt« gewesen, um schnell wirksam zu werden. »Es wäre einfacher gewesen, allen Bürgerinnen und Bürgern einen 25-Euro-Kulturscheck auszustellen.«