BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on
Thursday, 24 July, and Monday, 28 July, 2003.
An opera director walks out; theatres, libraries and museums are closing and arts ministers are being branded "philistine" and "populist".
No, this is not Britain but Germany, where a unique centuries-old tradition of lavish state support for the arts is under threat.
The German miracle is over and what is happening in the arts is a reflection of the broader economic crisis.
But in a town which already has 22 museums and high unemployment, what does it matter if one museum closes?
In a programme of high drama, star protagonists and exciting musical accompaniments, Rosie Goldsmith travelled east and west, from Dresden and Hamburg, two key arts capitals, to look at Germany's "Kulturkrise".
Reporter: Rosie Goldsmith
Producer: Rosie Goldsmith
Editor: Hugh Levinson