press release

Foreign Minister Gabriel expresses support for an initiative for persecuted artists


The directors of renowned theatres, museums and film institutions from all over Germany have called on the German Government to set up a programme for persecuted artists.

Foreign Minister Gabriel issued the following statement on this in Berlin today (18 September):

I welcome the call for a programme to protect persecuted artists and would be pleased if this important initiative met with widespread support.

From our own history, we are all too familiar with attacks on the freedom of science and the arts. This makes it all the more important that we do everything we can today to protect and extend academic and artistic freedom where it is at risk of being lost, using our cultural relations and education policy to do so. In the Philipp Schwartz Initiative for persecuted academics we have already created a successful blueprint for supporting people who have had to flee from conflicts or who are threatened for defending fundamental rights.

We need to set up a similar programme for persecuted artists in the next legislative term. It is particularly important that we do not only help those who stand up for the freedom of culture and the arts once they have arrived in Germany, but rather that we already provide support where they are prevented from playing their part in society.

We cannot allow societies in other places to lose the creativity of artists, intellectuals and pioneers because governments are not willing or able to protect and foster people in their creativity. I will endeavour to ensure that a programme of this type be established and implemented as soon as possible. To this end, I am inviting the signatories of the call to a meeting in early October to discuss the next steps.

Background Information:

Marion Ackermann (Director General of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Dresden State Art Collections), Amelie Deuflhard (Director of Kampnagel Internationale Kulturfabrik GmbH), Dieter Kosslick (Director of the Berlin International Film Festival), Shermin Langhoff (Director of the Maxim Gorki Theater), Matthias Lilienthal (Director of the Münchner Kammerspiele), Joachim Lux (Director of the Thalia Theater), Thomas Ostermeier (Artistic Director/ Resident Director of the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz), Wolfgang Tillmans (artist), Annemie Vanackere (Director of HAU Hebbel am Ufer), Stefan Weber (Director of the Museum of Islamic Art in the Pergamon Museum ) and Peter Weibel (artist, curator and art and media expert, ZKM Karlsruhe) called on the next German Government today to set up a programme for persecuted artists.

The Federal Foreign Office has been running the Philipp Schwartz Initiative in cooperation with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation since 2015. This initiative enables persecuted academics to continue their work at German research institutes for two years. 

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