An allgau travel guide for himself, a volume of the "three question marks" for his ten-year-old son: georg ditterich has been a regular user of the city library’s "maria hilf" branch for over ten years in the wunderburg. He finds it incomprehensible that it has fallen victim to cost-cutting measures: "young and old people in particular cannot simply go to the central office in town. How can we provide education if we close such facilities??", he asks in the direction of the city administration.
This proposes a "reduction in the number of branches of the city library" before, as it is stated in the submission to today’s meeting of the finance senate. The city library has three branches. According to cultural officer ulrike siebenhaar, the two on the other side of the railroad line were not to be sacrificed to the red pen under any circumstances. Remains maria hilf, which is closest to the center in konigstrabe. However, siebenhaar does not want to abolish this without replacement, only the "potential for cooperation with the ulanenpark district office" praise. " Bookstores are very important meeting places, they provide inclusion and education." The austerity policy was not allowed to be at the expense of the city library.
Background article on the financial situation: "we are experiencing dark years"
But at whose expense then? This will be the subject of much discussion at today’s meeting. Budget consolidation for 2021 is on the agenda. The city has to plug a historic gap of 44 million euros in the administrative budget. "It is natural that all areas are put on the stand", says chamberlain bertram felix. In the culture department, the administration is proposing a 2.5 percent cut for the budgeted facilities, which include the city library, the adult education center and music school, the museums and the E.T.A.-hoffmann theater belongs. Theater director sybille broll-pape can no longer rule out job cuts in this case, she told bayerischer rundfunk radio. Kammerer felix considers 2.5 percent to be a relatively small cut, but one that is necessary in order to set up a future-proof budget. "That doesn’t sound like much at first, says siebenhaar. However, personnel costs continued to grow due to collective bargaining agreements, while the budget had remained the same for years. In addition, significantly fewer tickets have been sold this year and extra costs have been incurred due to hygiene inspections. So the actual cut is significantly higher.
2000 signatories in four days
But siebenhaar’s department is even more affected: 25 percent is to be cut in the culture demand. This brought a group of around 30 cultural workers around the contact festival team to the barricades. On friday they published an open letter in which they demand the preservation of the cultural claim and the branches of the city library. "Our mailbox was quickly flooded, so we made it a petition", explains renate schlipf. She has been a member of the contact organization team and the board of the newly founded association "machbar" since 2012, using the lagarde barracks for cultural events. A petition needs 970 signatures for the city to react. In the meantime, around 2,000 citizens have signed the petition, including well-known cultural figures such as sams author paul maar and nora gomringer, director of the kunstlerhaus villa concordia.
"In the independent cultural scene, a minimal demand is enough to get something off the ground", finds schlipf. The kontakt-festival 2019, for example, was asked for 15,000 euros and attracted 20,000 visitors and generated a turnover of 100,000 euros. During the election campaign, culture was a major issue for almost all parties, he says. "And now to be shortened?", wonders schlipf. The situation of the artists was already precarious before corona, too. "Many burn for culture and work for little money. But at some point they will have to give up", siebenhaar, the cultural advisor, also estimates. After months of a halt to performances and a slow start, she too fears that the cuts will threaten the livelihoods of artists. The scene is shrinking, events will hardly be feasible any more. "If this disappears, it will be difficult to re-establish a scene – if it succeeds at all."
The same is true of the municipal library. It is this aspect in particular that has the parties concerned: "we can understand the outcry. The closure is not possible with us", according to the financial policy spokespersons of grunen and SPD, wolfgang grader and heinz kuntke. Christian lange (CSU) and the junge union are also campaigning for the preservation of the branch offices.
The german cultural council has also reacted to the situation in bamberg
Kammerer felix, on the other hand, cannot understand the outcry at all. "It still does not seem to have arrived how serious the situation is", he says. Savings must be made in every area, otherwise the government of upper franconia would not accept the budget and "dictate from above". Now he and the city council have had to make unpopular decisions "like a doctor telling a patient with a smoker’s leg that it needs to be amputated", according to felix. "He will not be happy, but he will survive." By the way, no one had suggested where to cut instead.
One has bookstore user ditterich: "the city councilors were able to show solidarity and give up half of their allowances."