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Silence in protest at Christmas markets

Visitors at the 589th Dresden Striezelmarkt at the opening / Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa
Visitors at the 589th Dresden Striezelmarkt at the opening / Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa

Christmas market operators should pay more money to be able to play music. They see this as a threat to their markets - and want to draw attention to their demand with silence on Monday.

In protest against increased costs for music, the private Christmas markets in Dresden and Pirna will be silent on Monday. The markets want to take part in the nationwide "Day of Silence", as the operators announced on Sunday. There will be no background music and no stage program with musical accompaniment at the Augustusmarkt, the Advent on the Neumarkt and the Romantic Christmas Market on the Taschenberg in Dresden as well as at the Canalettomarkt in Pirna (district of Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains), it said.

The question of the appropriateness of the increase must be raised urgently, the operators said. Thousands of euros are often due if music is played casually and is far removed from concert or radio quality. Operators of other German Christmas markets - for example in Magdeburg and Quedlinburg in Saxony-Anhalt - had also announced that they would take part in the protest action.

Several cities in Saxony had already launched a petition in mid-November demanding reliable fees from the music collecting society Gema. The petition states that the costs for organizers - for example of Christmas markets - have increased more than tenfold in some cases. Representatives from Großenhain, Radebeul, Meißen, Niederau (all in the district of Meißen), Oberwiesenthal, Schneeberg (both in the Erzgebirgskreis) and the managing director of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association of Saxony, Axel Klein, signed the petition.

As the administrator of the music rights, Gema is defending itself against the accusations. The basis for assessment has remained the same since 2011. "Some large, high-turnover markets have reported areas that are clearly too small," said Gema board member Georg Oeller. Gema had not checked the total area of the markets until 2022, but had relied on the conscientious and correct registration of Christmas market operators in recent years.

Germany-wide, Gema said it had sent around 3,350 invoices to Christmas market operators for 2022. In 167 cases, there were higher fees, in 35 cases even in the five-digit range.

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