Germany Gives 18 Year Olds The Gift of Culture

Over the years, I have written a fair bit on culture passes that various European countries have distributed to young people.  In addition to passes for cultural experiences and goods, some of the passes have been focused on facilitating rail travel so young people can experience a wider swath of national and international places and events.

According to a Guardian article from last week, Germany is the most recent country to tee up a program.   When Germans turn 18 they will receive a €200 Kulturpass. The goal is to not only get young people engaged with cultural activities, but to also inject some economic vitality post-Covid.

…has twin aims: to encourage young adults to experience live culture and drop stay-at-home pandemic habits; and give a financial boost to the arts scene, which has yet to recover from repeated lockdowns.


The finance minister, Christian Lindner, described the pass as “cultural start-up capital” that its recipients can use within a two-year period for everything from theatre and concert tickets to books or music. It will be managed via an app and a website that provides a direct connection to a virtual marketplace of everything from bookshops to theatres.

Perhaps most interesting is that the program is intentionally designed to have the 18 year olds “shop locally” as it were and excludes large online platforms and purchases.

Online platforms such as Amazon and Spotify have been excluded from the scheme, which places an emphasis on smaller, often local organisations, such as independent cinemas and bookshops. Individual purchases will be limited in value to prevent someone from using the voucher to buy, for example, a single concert ticket for €200.

I am curious to know if the German government analyzed the programs in places like Spain, France and Italy for design problems. The goals of these other countries were similar in terms of stimulating interest in in-person experiences. The German program seems to have more restrictions built in to achieve that.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “Germany Gives 18 Year Olds The Gift of Culture”

  1. There are other (local) programs, too. Since I live in the city of Bremen, here’s what happens here:
    1. The city government sponsors all daytime performances of the MOKS, the city theaters children’s program.
    2. All students get to see the city theaters performances for free (for a tiny fee as part of their tuition).
    3. Most museums in Bremen offer free tickets for people under 18.
    4. In October the city gave out a 60€ voucher to all under 18 to spend on cultural activities to make up for lost time during the pandemic (


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