The minister's good resolutions
Although it is too early to evaluate in practice the degree of continuity between Bernd Neumann's cultural policies and Christina Weiss', it is already obvious that the new Minister of Culture's energy goes together with the ambition to create an all-party alliance around the same purpose: defend culture —a subject matter even the Constitution says the State is responsible for, as Neumann underlines. Last week, he defended his opinions for the first time in Parliament and described his plan for the next hundred days.
Not only did Neumann define some general priorities, but he was also specific about some urgent matters which need to be debated, such as public funding, the late approval of the UNESCO Convention against illegal circulation and the possible merger of cultural foundations. Neumann, as always very involved in the cinema, will dedicate special attention to all of its aspects, from copyrights issues to training programmes. 'The idea is not to subsidise the cinema but to invest in it for the future,' says the Minister.
This emphasis on investment echoes Neumann's will to attract more private money into the film industry —some fiscal changes are being made which will start applying next Summer to encourage it. This strategy is in fact consistent with the previous minister's. Indeed, Christina Weiss wanted to replace certain public aids by a joint venture fund operating by means of loans to the investors, a competitive device which would eventually lead to the elimination of all German media funds. In this respect, what will happen is still not clear, but Neumann insisted on the necessity of certain subsidies. In any case, the left totally approved the new Minister and even President Hans-Joachim Otto ensured that Neumann could count on the support of the Parliament: 'We are 95% with him, he said, for he is one of us!'
Neumann will not wait to put his own energy and the general consensus to the test. Amongst the first missions on his agenda, there is: getting the Ministry of Finance to change the media decree so as to encourage international co-productions (a key to the success of European cinema) and reorganising the Deutsche Filmakademie.
(Translated from French)
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