Art is free! But not without rules

by Sofia Reyes

In a significant move to combat discrimination and promote inclusivity, the Berlin Senate has announced a new requirement for public funding in the cultural sector: introducing an anti-discrimination clause, making it mandatory for cultural institutions to commit to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. Senator for Culture Joe Chialo captured the essence of this initiative, stating, “Art is free! But not without rules.”

One of the key aspects of the new directive is the explicit prohibition of funding for associations classified as terrorist or extremist. The Senate Department for Culture emphasized this point in a statement, underlining the importance of preventing financial support for organizations that promote ideologies contrary to the principles of tolerance and diversity.

The primary goal of this regulatory change is to prevent discrimination, particularly anti-Semitism, within the cultural sector. The Senate Administration aims to create a proactive mechanism by introducing the anti-discrimination clause. This clause is included in grant notifications, which will now be accompanied by a self-declaration from recipients affirming their commitment to combating discrimination.

Regarding what constitutes anti-Semitism, the definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is followed, which includes denying the right of self-determination of the Jewish people or endorsing the murder of Jews (among others).

In taking this decisive step, the Berlin Senate sets a precedent for responsible cultural funding, emphasizing the importance of principles that uphold tolerance and reject discrimination. This initiative not only reshapes cultural funding in Berlin but also serves as a model for fostering a discrimination-free cultural landscape globally.