COVID-19: important information

Important information for artists and host organisations

Due to ongoing COVID-19 related travel restrictions, temporary relocations to Germany and to safe third countries are difficult to plan and implement. For this reason, applications for temporary relocation currently have little chance of success. Please contact the MRI staff for further consultation.

You can find further information on our eligibility criteria and encrypted ways of contacting the MRI on our application website.

Facilitating shelter for artists at risk


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.

«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. 

»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

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.

Virtual Residencies


Virtual Residencies (current application period has expired)

Please finde more information on "virtual residencies" here.


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

Publications/ Events

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.

On 17 September 2020, MRI invited for the digital network event "Defending Human Rights, Promoting Artistic Freedom: Research and Practice of Temporary International Relocation Initiatives" (programme here). 

Previous publications include:


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