No matter whether a municipality wants to strengthen democratic action with moderated bottom-up processes, citizens want to bring new dynamics into a deadlocked situation with their commission to art, or an institution is looking for an innovative and sustainable participation process for ambitious projects of art in public space: The New Patrons model responds to a wide variety of needs and can be adapted to a diverse range of contexts.
We – Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber (Society of the New Patrons) and Gesellschaft für Kunst und Mediation im Bürgerauftrag (Society for Art and Mediation on behalf of Citizens) – are the competence hub for the New Patrons model in Germany. From advising municipalities and organizations, to training and continuing education for practitioners, to implementing our own programs and model projects with strong partners such as Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation), Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education ) or ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen: with all of our activities, we work to give citizens more say and self-empowerment in cultural and social processes.
As a non-profit limited liability company (gGmbH), the Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber (Society of New Patrons) advises and supports municipalities, cultural institutions, districts and anyone who wants to realize citizen- commissioned art according to the New Patrons model. As part of an international network, it pools the experience gained from over 30 years and a good 500 civic commissions. It offers administration and the cultural sector opportunities to meet the challenges of social life and to develop locally anchored concepts for the future.
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From 2023 to 2027, civic groups can commission international artists in performative genres through the program Citizen-Comissioned Dance and Performance. These respond to local issues and new opportunities for artistic production. The program specifically expands the potential of citizen-commissioend art to performance and dance and extends the radius of the model to places with little cultural infrastructure throughout Germany.
The New Patrons model is driven by mediators who accompany all processes from the initial initiative of a citizens' group to the development of the commission and the implementation of the artistic proposal. In order to ensure the quality of their work, to protect their competence and to promote collegial exchange, the Gesellschaft für Kunst und Mediation im Bürgerauftrag (Association for Citizen-Commissioned Art and Mediation) was founded as a non- profit association.
The Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) funded a six-year pilot phase of the New Patrons model in Germany until 2022. In the process, citizens commissioned ambitious art projects from international artists at 17 locations. Mediators with experience and know-how in dealing with contemporary arts were the contact persons. They worked with partner institutions as regional anchor points.
More and more people want to become active with the model of New Clients. That is why the Society for Art and Mediation on behalf of citizens offers methodological and practical training to practitioners of related cultural fields. In addition, formats of constructive knowledge exchange are designed and carried out by experienced mediators. Future mediators from all over Germany participated in our 2022/2023 mentoring program. Further training courses are being planned, and individual workshops are available on request at any time.
Since 2007, the New Patrons model in Germany has followed the French example of the Nouveaux Commanditaires, implementing civic commissions according to François Hers' protocol. Within the first ten years, a dozen exemplary commissions showed that – and how – art commissioned by citizens can also take shape in Germany. They formed the basis for the professionalization and expansion of the New Patrons model with subsequent programs and activities in the local context.
By invitation and at events such as the series Was ihr wollt! (Whatever you want!) at Volksbühne Berlin, practitioners involved in citizen-commissioned art discuss the New Patrons model with interested people and experts from other fields of work. The New Patrons are also examined in various publications, essays, presentations, and articles. In 2022, the series Im Auftrag – Kunst in Beziehung (Commissioned by – art in relation) presented discursive and practical contributions from the fields of art studies and mediation, sociology, anthropology, architecture and urban development, economics and mediation. Numerous publications, essays, event recordings and articles on art on behalf of citizens can be viewed in our media library.