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Cultural shutdown: How to help Berlin’s artists and cultural institutions now

Once again, many of the most beloved cultural institutions in Berlin must close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cinemas, theatres, museums, restaurants: all geschlossen for the time being.

While this news is devastating for all of us, the anguish will be particularly acute for those employed across the cultural sector. With that in mind, we’ve put together 12 ways you can support Berlin’s cultural ecosystem right now — so that your favourite artists and institutions are still there when this is all over.

Music venue Columbiahalle pictured during Berlin’s shutdown. The message reads: ‚A drinks market will open here soon – if politics doesn’t save us.’ Photo: imago images / Bildgehege

Buy vouchers and annual tickets

Buy your Christmas presents now — and help your favourite cultural venues at the same time. Photo: imago images/Panthermedia

Whether for museums, cinemas or galleries, now is a great time to buy vouchers, annual passes or snap up other offers to support Berlin’s cultural venues. Vouchers only expire after 3 years — so you have plenty of time after the shutdown to visit your local Kino or theatre.


Go analogue with your purchases

Back to paperback. Nothing beats the thrill of flicking through a new book. Photo: Giulia Bertelli

Instead of relying on streaming services, buy a physical copy (mmm, vinyl) of your favourite band’s new album and support the artist more directly. Or go to the nearest bookshop and buy that novel you’ve wanted to read for years but haven’t gotten around to. Berlin has many great book nooks in which you’re sure to find something.


Support artists digitally

Explore new sonic realms — and support our musicians — by using streaming services. Photo: Patrik Michalicka

If you don’t have a fancy record player, you can still help artists by streaming their songs on the likes of Spotify. The amount the artist gets for each stream will be low, but it’s a small and easy way to show your support.

All the better, of course, if you listen to lesser-known artists who will benefit from the exposure. Taylor Swift needs your money less urgently than a fledgling indie band, for example. Podcasts from, about and for Berlin will also keep you informed and provide some income for the people who lovingly produced them.


Buy tickets for 2021 and beyond

Look forward to your next epic live concert by booking your tickets now. Photo: Roger Harris

Whether it’s the gig postponed from earlier this year, or the upcoming tour by that comedian who always makes you laugh, buying tickets for live events is always a good idea. And after all the isolation and boredom of time alone at home, you’ll be even happier to be around people.


Let that refund go

Do you need that €20 refund as desperately as the artist or venue needs it? Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Mattia Luigi Nappi

Plays, gigs, exhibitions… those who have already bought tickets for events in November can simply forgo their refund and support the artists this way. Only if you can afford to, of course. A simple, selfless way to help.


Merch, merch and more merch

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Die wunderschöne @missgammour im sold out Tourshirt! 💯 Was haltet ihr davon, wenn wir bald neue Shirts mit Fotomotiv machen?

A post shared by juju's merch (@jujus.merch) on

Merch! Who doesn’t love merch? Relive your obsessive teenage years and bag yourself a hoodie or T-shirt emblazoned with your favourite artist’s face. Not only will you have a new garment, you’ll also provide valuable support to the artist in question — and let the world know you’re into that cool rapper or underground Berlin label. If possible, order the merch via the artist’s website so proceeds go more directly to them.


Watch live-streamed events — and help promote them

Streamed concerts are a great way to stay connected to the artists you love. Photo: Screenshot Arte

As it was during the first lockdown, cultural organisers must reach their audience in new and creative ways. Whatever your favourite genre or cultural institution, there’ll be a live stream or on-demand video to support it.

United We Stream, for example, is the site on which DJ sets from Berlin’s clubs are streamed regularly, while Berlin (a)live unites artists in desperate need of publicity on its site.

Do your bit by sharing and forwarding live streams to your network — the more likes, clicks, follows and comments a performance garners, the more exposure and revenue the artists will get.


Donate directly to cultural institutions

Those who can afford to give money should consider donating. Photo: imago images/angle of vision

Last but not least, there’s always the simple act of donating directly to the cultural institution of your choice. Some have an appeal for donations on their website, others have set up a Crowdfunding or Startnext campaign — the collaboration of 78 Berlin cinemas earlier this year with the project ‘Fortsetzung: Folgt’, is a good example. The emergency relief fund of the German Orchestra Foundation is another worthy cause.

Original article by Kaja Wundersitz


Berlin’s clubs have been quiet since March, as this eerie photo series shows. If you’re keen to support another Berlin-based business, online platform KADIB showcases design by young Persian creatives. Well worth checking out.

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