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Europe's Cultural Birthday Presents

Now here’s a civilised idea to support the arts that appears to be gathering pace: birthday vouchers given to citizens by governments to be spent on concerts and theatre performances.

Girl celebrating her 18th birthday

Germany has become the latest European country to announced such an initiative. Its €200 (£175 / $208) ‘KulturPass’ will be offered to all those turning 18 next year. The pilot project aims to boost the arts and, according to German culture minister Claudia Roth: “get young people excited about the diversity of culture in our country”.

Approximately 750,000 Germans will turn 18 next year and the estimated cost of the new KulturPass programme is expected to be around €100m. If successful, Roth suggested that it could be rolled out to other age groups.

Similar schemes have been introduced elsewhere in Europe. France offers its citizens a €300 (£260) culture voucher when they turn 18. It can be spent on cinema, theatre and concert tickets, or on books, arts courses and musical instruments. The most generous birthday presents are offered by Spain and Italy, where they provide €400 and €500 respectively.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, they have gone down a different route to support the arts. The new Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme aims to support the arts and creative practice by giving a payment of €325 a week to artists and creative arts workers. The main objective of the scheme is to address the financial instability faced by many working in the arts. 2,000 artists were selected at random and the pilot scheme will run for 3 years.

Two elderly Italians dancing together


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