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2019 spring report – reporting item No. 01 " Unresolved and persistent funding shortage jeopardises cultural heritage building"

Apr 02, 2020

The Otto-Nagel Building faces the challenges of costly overall renovation. For years, the bodies in charge have failed to do what was needed to preserve the building for future generations. The 18th century Otto-Nagel Building accommodates the bpk-Bildagentur (picture agency) Image Bank of Cultural Institutions. The Foundation runs the picture agency as a publicly-owned enterprise. Responsibility for the Foundation lies with the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The picture agency needs to ensure full cost coverage of building maintenance using its proper revenues generated for this purpose. From 2012 to 2016, the agency used all reserves of €1.4 million for refurbishment. The agency could not conclude the restoration and renovation works.

In 2016, obsolescent electrical installations were damaged by a smouldering fire hazard. In 2017, we already noted the critical need for restoration and renovation and for adequate fire safety measures. We urged the Foundation to act and comply with its restoration and preservation duties. By the year 2019, the shortcomings we stated had not been addressed. The Foundation and the Commissioner justified their failure to act by referring to applicable framework conditions governing taxation and competition law of state-run enterprises.

We noted that the Commissioner and the Foundation did not act to stop the cultural heritage building from further dilapidation. Thus they face the challenge of a fundamental renovation at excess cost and effort. The Commissioner needs to ensure that this cultural heritage building is preserved for future generations.

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