Facilitating shelter for artists at risk

Important information


We are now accepting project applications for temporary relocation to Germany with an earliest start date of March 2022. Further information on our eligibility criteria can be accessed on our application website.

On this website you will find all important dates and deadlines as well as all necessary information on the application process. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to advise you. Contact details as well as information on secure communication with MRI can be found here.

Please note that this year's funds of the Martin Roth Initiative have been committed to ongoing projects. We are therefore still not able to accept and approve applications and requests for projects in 2021. We kindly ask for your understanding that due to the situation described above, we are also unable to fund emergency cases.

»Whoever attacks the freedom of art actually wants to question the democratic freedom of a society.«
A public call for the creation of a programme for persecuted artists

About Us


Our vision is an open society in a peaceful world, in which artists are free to practise their profession in any country and civil-society actors are committed to democracy and freedom of opinion, without any interference.


The Martin Roth-Initiative protects artists who are committed in their home country to the freedom of art, democracy and human rights by enabling temporary residence in Germany or third countries for the purpose of protecting those who are being persecuted. Special significance is placed on the cultural scenes and local civil society in the host countries which, during the scholarship period, work with the scholarship holders, provide support and enable their professional development. The Martin Roth Initiative aims to ensure that, at the end of the scholarship period, it is possible for the scholarship holder to return safely to their home country, or that the foundation for their successful integration in the society of the host country has been laid. The joint performance between the Martin Roth-Initiative and its partners, both domestically and abroad, expresses the commitment of civil society to take on responsibility and nail its colours to the mast.

About the Martin Roth-Initiative

The Martin Roth-Initiative was started as a joint project by the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and the Goethe-Institut in reaction to the global decline in pre-political spaces. In many countries, state and non-state actors are increasingly restricting the work by and with critical artists as well as civil-society actors. Socio-political commitment in these countries results in personal danger for those involved.

Against this background, renowned institutions and leading figures of the German cultural scene stated their willingness to accept responsibility and support their persecuted colleagues abroad. In a public appeal, they called for policy makers to create a programme that ensures not only the safety of endangered artists, but also the continuation of their critical work in theatres, museums, exhibition halls and at festivals.

Within the spirit of these concerns, the Martin Roth-Initiative promotes and supports endangered artists in close collaboration with a network of both national and international (cultural) institutions. The recipients of scholarships are selected by an independent Selection Committee consisting of members of the art and cultural scene in Germany as well as representatives from international civil-society institutions.

«It’s time to nail our colours to the mast.»
Martin Roth

Martin Roth

“I hold terms such as freedom, tolerance and solidarity sacred,” said Martin Roth, museum director and cultural scientist (1955–2017), who was a long-standing member of the Goethe-Institut and, at the end of his life, President of the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen). “Just sitting there, concentrating only on the ‘nice’ topics and unendangered institutions in safe countries, letting events pass us by without any comment: this is no longer possible.” Martin Roth was convinced that art and culture are the indispensable foundation for a society living together in democracy and peace. To strengthen civil society, he regarded discussion, especially with colleagues in repressive regimes, as essential. For Martin Roth, the motto, “It’s time to nail our colours to the mast” was a plea for the defence of an open society. 


Portraits of current and former MRI scholarship holders and their artistic work:

  • Tewa Barnosa from Libya, born in 1998, artist, curator, cultural manager, came to the Berlin-based host organisation coculture e.V. in January 2019 as an MRI scholarship holder.
  • Igor Vidor from Brazil, born in 1985, photographer, visual artist, and, since July 2019, MRI scholarship holder at the host organisation Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.
  • Sujatro Ghosh from India, born in 1993, photographer and video artist and, since November 2019, an MRI-scholarship holder in Berlin.


For information and instructions on our application processes, current application periods and relevant contact addresses please follow this link: Application


To foster knowledge and contribute examples of good practice for the enhancement of existing relocation programmes, one field of MRI´s activity is dedicated to accompanying research and international networking with other programmes. The results are published and discussed at events that aim to stimulate expert dialogue and exchange between researchers and the global community of practice.

Previous publications include:

  • "Relocating Artists at Risk in Latin America" (2021) - in English (full report and summary) and Spanish (full report and summary)
    • podcast "¡El Arte no Calla!" (episode 9) in cooperation with Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)/PEN America (English script here): 

External resources:

The 2021 "Safety Guide for Artists" by Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) compiles useful information about risk analysis, digital safety, threat documentation, finding assistance and recovering from risk. It is available for free in English, Spanish and French. 


Linienstraße 139/140
10115 Berlin, Germany
T +49 (0)30 284491-76 
info [at] martin-roth-initiative [dot] de 

IMPORTANT: If you seek to apply for funding, please carefully read the information and instructions here: application process. Please pay particular attention to the information on secure communication!