Techno’s beating heart is a place of high culture in German law

October 2016

Live events sector


While British institutions of power seem to work towards suppressing the country’s nightlife, German authorities are taking the opposite approach.
According to German publication Der Spiegel, Berghain has won a legal case that defines its activity as “high culture” – with the Brandenburg court ruling that Berghain, the 1,600-capacity Berlin nightclub widely regarded as the world capital of techno, is a place of cultural significance and thus entitled to be tax as a site of high culture.
The court battle stemmed from Berghain being threatened by greater taxation. German law taxes institutions classed as ‘entertainment’ at a rate of 19 per cent, while institutions seen as sites of ‘high culture’ are taxed at seven per cent. Tax officials argued that Berghain is “ruled by entertainment, not by culture” since it’s a place where people dance, have fun and take drugs, while the nightspot countered that as a site of musical performances it should be afforded the same standing as classical music halls. In the past Berghain (pictured) would pay tax of 7% on its earnings – the same rate as museums, theatre and concert venues.
The German fiscal court in Cottbus ruled in favour of Berghain, awarding its events the standing and tax bracket of “high culture”.
German law’s recognition of Berghain as a place of significant cultural value is indicative of the country’s more progressive and sympathetic approach to dance music than the UK is currently exhibiting, reflected by the closure of fabric. Image:

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