Cultural policy: Berlin overturns anti-discrimination clause: praise and criticism

Because of legal concerns, Berlin's Senator for Culture Joe Chialo (CDU) overturned the anti-discrimination clause in funding.

Cultural policy: Berlin overturns anti-discrimination clause: praise and criticism

Because of legal concerns, Berlin's Senator for Culture Joe Chialo (CDU) overturned the anti-discrimination clause in funding. “Due to legal concerns that the anti-discrimination clause is not legally secure in this form, it will no longer be used in funding notices from now on,” the cultural administration announced. However, the goal of a “discrimination-free culture” remains.

"I will continue to work for the non-discriminatory development of Berlin culture. However, I have to take seriously the legal and critical voices that saw the introduced clause as a restriction on artistic freedom," said Chialo, according to the statement. The debates are needed now more than ever.

Shortly after it became known at the beginning of January, the new funding clause caused criticism among cultural workers because they saw freedom of art and freedom of expression at risk. In an open letter, numerous representatives of all cultural sectors spoke out against what they described as “compulsory confession” and “the political instrumentalization of anti-Semitism clauses”.

Praise and criticism of Chialo's decision

The cultural policy spokeswoman for the Berlin Left faction, Manuela Schmidt, considered the decision now made to be the right one: "The senator is taking the outstretched hand of the artists, their concerns and uncertainty seriously. He deserves respect for that," said Schmidt.

Chialo has now opened a path for an important discussion about how "society and its cultural workers can stand up and act together against anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of discrimination."

The German-Israeli Society (DIG) Berlin and Brandenburg saw things differently - and regretted the step. “In view of the anti-Semitism that has come to light in parts of the cultural scene since October 7th, this clause would have been an opportunity to send a clear stop signal from the Senate,” said chairman Jochen Feilcke, according to a statement. "Chialo could have resorted to legal disputes." Anti-Semitism is not an opinion and cannot be based on artistic freedom.

Clause introduced about a month ago

At the beginning of January, the cultural administration announced that it would require recipients of public funding to, among other things, commit themselves to opposing anti-Semitism by means of a clause. The basis for this should be a definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance (IHRA) and its expansion as supplemented by the Federal Government. In the open letter, cultural workers criticized the cultural administration for choosing this definition.

In his own words, Chialo wanted the clause to ensure that public funds would not promote racist, anti-Semitic, anti-queer or otherwise exclusionary forms of expression. According to information from the cultural administration on Monday, the clause was introduced around a month ago. She is now working on exchange formats to strengthen the discourse with institutions and cultural workers in the coming months.

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