Issue 3 2/98
Germany - Not a paradise for folk musicians
We wrote about it already in last issue's editorial - nevertheless we like to focus this whole editorial on the theme of the German Ausländersteuer, the tax on foreign performers.
Reason is that the tax shows more and more its effects. International folk music has very much difficulties here at the moment.
Our finance minister Waigel has invented this tax two years ago. It is quite simple: If an organisers wants to book an artist who does not have a German passport, he has to count differently. The tax on this foreign perfomer will be nearly twice the normal tax - it might be that the organiser has to pay up to 40 % taxes! And these taxes not just on the salary for the artist - also on all 'production costs': On the hotel, the meal, even on the beer the musician drinks during his concert.
Effect is that more and more town councils do not allow their cultural department to book any foreign musicians - it is easy to understand: Why should we spent the money just for the government? And if the town says: OK, book just German artists - than it is still luck. Some towns take this directly as a good reason to stop all folk music concerts.
It is all a bit crazy: Everybody speaks of European Union, of international understanding etc pp, and then the government invents a tax against cultural exchange. You can travel to your neighbouring EU countries without crossing a border, soon even without having to exchange money - but at the same time foreign musicians have to pay much higher taxes than German ones. It does look bad for the German international folk scene.
By the way, recently Mr. Waigel had another fine idea: A new high tax on cultural sponsoring -up to now tax-free. That might have been the end of several German folk festivals - but there was enough protest and it seems that this idea will not be realized. But who knows - Mr. Waigel surely still has some ideas how to make the cultural life more difficult.
There is still a bit of hope left, as in September there are General Elections in Germany - hopefully it will change the cultural tax policy against foreign artists. Otherwise we Germans will soon have to go to our neighbouring countries to see 'foreign' folk music...
Your FolkWorld editorsDrawing by German artist Annegret Haensel; for more info on the artist, look at the editorial page
To the content of FolkWorld online music magazine Nr. 3© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 2/98
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