The New Patrons of Pritzwalk

Patrons: Einwohner:innen von Pritzwalk

Mediator: Gerrit Gohlke

Artists: Clegg & Guttmann

Duration: 2011 – 2014

Partners: Ostdeutsche Sparkassenstiftung, Fondation de France, Stadt Pritzwalk, IHK Potsdam / Regional Center Prignitz, Stadtwerke Pritzwalk


A group of Brandenburg citizens want new life in the center of their small town. Sculptures are supposed to make the desolate old town of Pritzwalk attractive again and halt the rampant vacancy of stores. 

"As long as my mental cells are working in the right direction, I'm not going to stop and be satisfied. I don't want to grow old in a ghost town."

Christa Pfeifer, management consultant, Patron

The artists Clegg & Guttmann believe this is unrealistic and take a completely different, unexpected approach. With a letter to all 12,000 households, they are calling on the people of Pritzwalk to create a "city portrait". However, it is not Clegg & Guttmann as portraitists who want to decide which portrait will be created – instead, seven empty stores will be used to show what the people themselves suggest as a project. Everyone is invited to submit their ideas, from professional artists to technical employees with no previous artistic experience, from students to pensioners. 

The participation of the people of Pritzwalk in the realization of the projects is also expressly requested. The risk of non-participation is part of the program: if no one participates, according to Clegg & Guttmann, then an empty picture will be created. This would also be a portrait of the city, albeit a sad one.

After initial predictions of failure, 72 project proposals are received despite all doubts, most of which are implemented in summer 2014. They range from exhibitions to rap workshops, from a belly dance soirée to the establishment of a children's and youth library or the production of a film documentary. With The Seven Arts of Pritzwalk, the town center becomes a lively place. The town takes possession of itself and proves what it is made of.

The commission is an exemplary project in the New Patrons model, which shows how art can be commissioned by citizens in Germany. For three months, the Pritzwalk residents involved in the project become pioneers in their own town. An hour and a half's drive from the nearest contemporary art museum, Clegg & Guttmann forgo everything that characterizes an art project according to today's art business conventions. The commission is realized outside of institutional infrastructures, without any outward-looking public relations work or PR-effective events. The location is marked solely by seven sculptural wooden frames made by a local carpenter.

„I live in Pritzwalk - it's probably fate, a lot goes on here where there used to be nothing, we bring good art home to us, bring fresh colors, out of the haze against boredom!“

From the "Pritzwalk Song", created as part of a rap and hip-hop workshop for young people

The lasting effect of the commission continues to this day. The Kunst Freunde Pritzwalk art association was founded by the project participants and has since grown steadily, becoming a tenant in one of the project spaces a year after the commission is completed – a model for possible future usage concepts in Pritzwalk's city center. In 2015, the book Die Sieben Künste von Pritzwalk published a chronicle of what the town can achieve through its own efforts. In another publication, WIR – Geschichte einer Erfindung, people from Pritzwalk in 2021 talk in interviews about commitment, the silence after reunification and the conditions for new cohesion.

With The Seven Arts of Pritzwalk, local people have created a long-lost attraction for themselves and moved closer together.