Courtesy of Jerome Govender from Pexels.

On May 7, the German Bundestag, which is the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, passed a unique resolution. The federal government now has to recognize nightclubs and live venues in Germany under building law as facilities for cultural purposes. According to a Club Commission statement, the resolution’s main goal is to protect and further develop club cultural diversity throughout Germany.

Club Commission, an association of Berlin club, party, and cultural event organizers, explains that while clubs and music venues have hardly received any recognition over the years in terms of building law, they play essential roles as cultural open spaces, breeding grounds for innovation, and major tourist attractions. Despite that cultural component, clubs were, until now, classified as entertainment venues in the same category as arcades, betting shops, sex cinemas, and brothels. But not anymore. With the newly adopted amendment of the Building Use Ordinance, nightclubs and live music venues with a verifiable cultural reference are now at the same status as theaters, operas, museums, and concert halls.

“Clubs are culture. Not just since today, but for many millions of people for decades,” the Club Culture and Nightlife Forum wrote in a press release. “This week, we, as the German Bundestag confirmed this cultural status of music clubs and live music venues and thus confirmed and honored the achievements of the operators, artists, employees, and freelancers. “

Up until today, clubs in Germany were only permitted in mixed and core areas, only rarely in urban areas, and not permitted in residential areas. With the new amendment, clubs and live music venues will be more protected from gentrification and displacement and be able to settle more easily in inner cities and rural regions. Supporters of the amendment hope that the new resolution will allow for the creation of new places for club culture and live music as well as improve the role of clubs in urban development. However, not all nightclubs will be able to profit from these new protections. According to Live Musik Kommission, only music clubs who can prove they have a “cultural purpose,” such as venues with a focus on artists, young talent, and program curation, will benefit from a status upgrade.

The resolution comes after a year-long campaign by the Parliamentary Forum Club Culture and Nightlife formed in February 2020. The group comprises members from all democratic parliamentary groups including the Greens, the Left, the Free Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, and more. According to Highsnobiety, the forum appeared in parliament in Berlin last year and testified that clubs attracted around 3 million tourists annually and contributed €1.5 billion (approximately $1.8 billion) to the local economy. According to The Art Newspaper, around 100 Berlin clubs have closed in the past 10 years and 25 others are “under threat” due to urban development and noise complaints. After the new challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic created for these venues, the new amendment will provide some much-needed relief. 

“Vibrant cities are a key to a diverse society and club culture is one of its laboratories,” Marc Wohlrabe, board member of LiveKomm said in a press release.

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