I hope you all had a great weekend at the Carnival! Like every Whitsun since 1995, the Carnival of Cultures took place in Kreuzberg from the 25th to the 28th May. I went to the Carnival two days and really had a great time. It was the first time I saw it because I only moved to Berlin last October and I have to say that the amount of stands and cultures represented there was overwhelming! The shows were impressive, the music fun, the food delicious and the drinks potent. Especially the parade was really impressive, because with 97 wagons it was really huge and the people participating had amazing costumes.
The thing that surprised me, is that this huge event has relatively little advertisement. Maybe that is because it is already so integrated and known in Berlin, so that it doesn’t need this anymore. I only found out about the Carnival because Fenja told me about it.
After I saw how huge the Carnival really is, I wondered how the whole event is financed. After all, the city had to block several streets and provide a many policemen to keep everyone under control. Not to think of the cleaning up afterwards.
The first thing that is really special about the financing of the Carnival of Cultures, is that there are almost no sponsors. The hosts of the event don’t want to change the Carnival into an official demonstration, which would allow more and bigger sponsors, because they are afraid that the Carnival would get too commercial. The fear is that big companies or parties would emboss the image of the event and not the faces of the different cultures.
The state Berlin of course supports the Carnival of Cultures, they do that with an amount of 270 000€ to be exact. This money is funded by taxes and is provided by the etat for social issues and integration. This seems to be a lot, but the actual costs for the weekend add up to 750 000 to 800 000€ in total.
So where does this number come from? The responsible Carnival’s bureau doesn’t give out any proved explanation, only a general overview. They allocate the costs like this: Execution: 350 000€; Staff: 210 000€; Documentation and Competition: 30 000; Taxes and Fees: 60 000€; Provision and Public relations 50 000€ each.
Who really pays?
The people really paying for the Carnival are the ones with a stand – up to 140€ per meter is what they have to pay to sell their things. Since the official website of the Carnival of Culture says that most of the Carnival is financed through the selling of beverages, there has to be a certain fee those stands have to pay, or a certain percentage of their income, otherwise this explanation wouldn’t make any sense.
What is not included in the already high amount of 800 000€ is the cost the actors incur. There are so many different participants ( see also what Stefochka wrote on this) that not only work and help out at the Carnival for free, but also spend money on it. The best example for this is the big parade on Sunday, where almost 100 different groups march all the way from Hermanplatz to Yorkstrasse. These groups pay between 3 000 and 9 000€ just to be a part of the parade. They don’t get any funding and only few of them manage to find private sponsors in time. Of course, the Carnival should mostly be about fun than making money, but it can’t be that participants lose money for the amusement of others. This problem already has consequences, sine more and more groups take back their application. The most observable change was that the usual opening actors, the group Afoxé Loni didn’t come this year, because they couldn’t afford it.
That’s why every year, the discussion arises if there is no possible way to support these great actors, because without them, there is no Carnival!