Protecting cultural workers: The Martin Roth Initiative

In order to protect persecuted artists and artists abroad, the Goethe-Institut and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IfA) launched the Martin Roth Initiative. The initiative, named after the longtime member of the Goethe-Institut and most recent president of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, has set itself the task of protecting and promoting people who have to expect limitations in their artistic activity or personal attacks and detention in their home town .

They are given the opportunity to go temporarily to a safe country in their home region or to Germany to continue living and working there. The fellows receive personal support during the funding period and the opportunity to continue their professional activity.

The Martin Roth initiative aims to create close cooperation with a network of civil society and cultural institutions in Germany and abroad. This is intended to achieve a successful integration into the artistic scene in the host country and to ensure a sustainable professional perspective after returning to the home region. "Together with our network of reliable cultural partners in Germany and all over the world, we can help people in danger in a very concrete way and work together for the goal of an open society in a peaceful world," said General Secretary of the Goethe-Institut Johannes Ebert.

Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also emphasizes the importance of this initiative: "At a time when crises are increasing all over the world, the basic democratic principles and the lives of millions of people are endangered, our foreign policy must stand up for the fundamental freedoms of a democratic society, for art and culture, science and the freedom of the media, and if possible protect those actors who do it equally. In October 2017, well-known cultural and theater professionals called on the federal government to stand up for the protection of vulnerable artists abroad. The Federal Government has taken this call seriously. The founding of the Martin Roth Initiative is a result that also confirms the responsibility assumed. We consciously act in the memory of Martin Roth, who has always stood up for the freedom of culture worldwide".

The Martin Roth initiative is divided into three program lines:

  • Protective stays for endangered artists and cultural workers at cultural institutions or cultural locations in Germany
  • Protection stays for endangered artists and cultural workers in third countries
  • Scientific support, evaluation and networking of protection programs

Source: Goethe-Institut/press release from August 2018 (in German only)

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March 2020

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