Exiled lives on the stage: Support networks and programs for artists at risk from Turkey in Germany

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This article analyses the support and self-care strategies of artists from Turkey who have left their country from considerable risk regarding their country’s political and economic instability since 2013 and have relocated to Germany. It maps the support networks, programs and institutions as well as consider questions of sustainability and risk (self-) assessment. The study is based on interviews with Turkish and Kurdish artists in Germany and an analysis of the activities by the Maxim Gorki Theater, Apartment Projekt, bi’bak, Hafiza Merkezi Berlin, as well as support systems like artistic research fellowships, art residencies, artist networks and supportive theatres. The guiding questions of this study examine the longer-term orientation of the support of artists at risk.

The findings show three deficiencies. Despite the variety of available support systems, artists who left Turkey experience difficulties integrating in the artistic labour market. The output-oriented, meritocratic basis on which programs select candidates often fail to help artists in a holistic way. The intergenerational disparity in the migrant communities create the infrastructures, solidarity discourses and networks for newly arriving artists, but also creates ideological tensions which limits inter-communitarian solidarity. Specific self-organized programs extend the solidarity to artists from other affected regions, which limits chances to support artists at risk from Turkey. There are generational disadvantages of newcomers in an overburdened, professionalized independent art scene that has struggled to break free from the social work and socio-cultural stigmas. The latter masks artists with a non-German background from positive discrimination initiatives.

The study proposes improvement in support systems through a coordinated effort, encourages to relieve programs from a need for identity representation as an expectation or requirement, and advises a shift in support systems from output orientation towards enhancement of individuals through self-care, for greater autonomy and self-development in their art practices and new life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalOpen Research Europe
Issue number109
Publication statusSubmitted - 6-Jul-2023


  • Turkey
  • Germany
  • policy analysis
  • Berlin
  • artists' labour market
  • risk
  • exile
  • cultural policy
  • support
  • care
  • self-care

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