Germany Rolls Out Its KulturPass for 18-Year-Olds

In News by Porter Anderson

The new German KulturPass opens its €200 offer for 18-year-olds, with bookstores reportedly signing right up to participate.

Image: Germany’s KulturePass site

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Entdecke deinen kulturpass’
The opening today (June 14) of Germany’s new KulturPass for 18-year-olds is being welcomed in many parts of that market as a kind of joyous experiment.

At Deutsche Welle, the headline on the kickoff story by John Silk and Elliot Douglas is “Free Money: Germany’s €200 Culture Ticket for 18-Year-Olds.”

It’s clear, however, that some are uncertain of the result of the rollout of the new program. Silk and Douglas write, “Germany’s 18-year-olds have been invited to register on an app called the ‘KulturPass,’ to receive €200 (US$216.62) from the government. The pass can be spent on a variety of cultural activities of their choice, including museum visits, films, theater and concerts. But will they choose pop music or opera?”

Many Italians, especially in publishing, would tell their German colleagues not to worry. As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE) reported in 2021 that 18-year-olds spent 80 percent of their allocations on print books. And in Italy, the 18App—opened in 2016—has been worth €500 for each citizen turning 18. There, the program is to change in 2024, the carta cultura being tied by the new conservative Meloni government to a given family’s assessed income and need—a household income of €35,000 or less (US$37,156)—and a “merit card” is to be associated with final-exam performance of an 18-year-old who applies.

Nevertheless, the program was particularly good at stimulating revenue for publishing and related creative industries during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, and was so successful that France then initiated a version of the program, now followed by Germany.

Schmidt-Friderichs: ‘This Important Stimulus’

Volleyball near Alexanderplatz in Berlin, May 10. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Youssef El Nahas

Germany’s book business is cheering the arrival of the KulturPass today, with the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, reporting that
“a few hundred bookstores have already registered as providers, and the number is growing continuously.”

Karin Schmidt-Friderichs

Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, head of the Börsenverein, says, “The KulturPass is a long-awaited, contemporary approach to get young adults more enthusiastic about local cultural offerings and to bring them into contact with cultural providers and institutions in their area.

“We’d like to thank minister of state for culture Claudia Roth for this important stimulus for the young cultural audience. As a book industry, we would like to use the KulturPass to get 18-year-olds excited about our wide range of reading and the incomparably dense network of bookshops in Germany.

“We’re therefore looking forward to helping to promote the successful start of the offer as a book industry. And we would like to encourage all young people: Use this great opportunity to experience culture.”

Claudia Roth

The pandemic is on the minds of the backers of the KulturPass, the 18-year-olds being told that after two years of limited movement, they now can get out and enjoy the offerings of their cities, and Roth, the culture minister, explaining in interviews that a part of the rationale for the KulturPass is as a means to support the cultural sector, “which continues to suffer the effects of the pandemic.”

In the DW report, Silk and Douglas write, “The funding, which has cost the German government €100 million (US$108.3 million), will initially apply to around 750,000 people.”

The Börsenverein reports that an interface with the “VLB” directory of deliverable books in Germany will make it possible for participating bookstores to be found on the KulturPass platform. What’s more, booksellers can include tickets for readings and other events they hold in their shops as KulturPass-applicable items.

So the push now is on to get the word out that the program is available to quickly grow both the user base among Germans in their late teens and the pool of participating cultural programs and businesses.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the German market is here, more on the Italian 18App is here, and more on the work of the Börsenverein is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.