German Culture Minister Neumann Won’t Serve Third Term

German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann, who alone among his European peers has secured increased government spending on the arts in an era of austerity, announced that he won’t serve a third term.

Neumann, who is 71, said that he informed Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately after Sept. 22 elections that he won’t take part in her new government. In a statement sent by e-mail today, he said that during his term culture policy “has gained much weight and voice.”

Among Neumann’s achievements was an increase in state spending on the arts by 240 million euros ($331 million) to 1.28 billion euros during his eight years in office. Projects his office is contributing to include the renovation of Museum Island, which he has termed “Berlin’s Louvre,” and the rebuilding of Berlin’s royal palace.

He has also been a vocal advocate of the restitution of Nazi-looted art, and doubled government support for provenance research by German museums in April 2012.

Neumann’s post has only existed since 1998, and he is the fourth person to hold it. Merkel’s party begins negotiations tomorrow to form a coalition with the Social Democrats, the main opposition party in the previous parliament.

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