Clandestine - that's what we call something that takes place in silence, in secret, in a familiar circle. In 2020, the projects of the New Patrons continued clandestinely – and quite cheerfully – despite and because of the special challenges of the year.
Long before the artistic projects commissioned by citizens become public with a big whoop and a tare, they mature in dialogue, experience twists and surprises in the conversation between commissioning groups, artists, and take one step back and two steps forward. That was also the case in 2020. During on-site meetings outside, in online conferences, at the digital studio visit.
The New Patrons received a lot of support last year. In addition to the Federal Cultural Foundation, also the municipal administrations and individuals from numerous other institutions and offices have given the projects a tailwind, paved the way for the future and attested to their support. The concerns of the commissioning groups were never ignored, cultural offices and committees, city 1councillors and regional developers took their time for them. They can see: what is happening within the projects touches on fundamental aspects of community, care and social inclusion in the local and regional environment.
And so 2020 has been a year of new commissions, artistic drafts, community meetings and much trusting communication – on balance, a year of visions that are beginning to take practical shape. After a short breather at the turn of the year, the work now continues. Artists are working on drafts. Mediators and commissioning groups sit down with structural engineers and architects, talk to administrations and committees, draw plans, write applications for subsidies and building permits and tell the media about the projects. Not only to further advance the processes at the current sites of action, but also to anchor the New Patrons model in Germany with a long-term structure beyond the pilot phase.
Citizen-commissioned art is thriving, continuing to grow and entering the public sphere. What initially developed in a clandestine and protected manner is now getting hands and feet, showing its face and letting its voice be heard. Look forward to seeing it develop together with us!
Eleven commissions in the making
In Züsedom (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), Mönchengladbach-Wickrath (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Waldeck-Frankenberg (Hesse), New Patrons groups signed their commissions for artistic productions last year. Deciding on a commission's wording is the moment when a group goes public with its concern. Currently, eleven groups of citizens are working together with the mediators on the realization of their commission – from finding the right artist and discussing ideas and drafts to concrete questions of implementation. In other locations, groups are also in the commissioning process to become public this year. See all ongoing projects…
Artists on board
They are currently working on their project proposals: Artistic drafts by Ruth Buchanan, ConstructLab and Rimini Protokoll, Martin Kaltwasser, Daniel Knorr, Antje Majewski, Laure Prouvost and Jakub Szczęsny are being commissioned by the citizens' groups. In doing so, they do not simply carry out the assignments or apply for individual projects. They are invited as active partners to understand the background from which a project emerges. They interpret the commission, follow up, research and develop ideas for a new work. Artist research is underway in other commissioning groups this year. The contributors to the projects in Germany are in good company: Artists from international projects…
First project drafts published
With Ruth Buchanan's draft, the New Patrons of Mönchengladbach are literally building bridges for the city. The draft envisages sculptural interventions in a garden plot that provide new access to the site. What emerges is intended to benefit the whole urban community, which finds numerous public educational and cultural institutions in the center but few connections between them and few places to hang out together. Rimini Protokoll and ConstructLab have developed a festival idea for the New Patrons of Steinhöfel, which is intended to bring all twelve villages of the community into dialogue with each other about growing old well in the countryside. For the "Steinhöfler Festspiele" active stage elements in each village and a common festival center are to provide for the exchange. The final festival can become the prelude to further activities in the municipality.
Commissioned by the Iraqi Kurd Sartep Namiq, a comic book has been in the making since 2016 and went to press at the end of the last year. It will be released by Egmont Comic Collection this March. It was commissioned from comic artist Felix Mertikat in collaboration with cyberpunk legend Bruce Sterling and many other contributors. The project began four years ago in the Tempelhof refugee shelter, with the aim of creating an encouraging story without words about living well together. The first copies go to non-profit organizations, refugee organizations, shelters, libraries, schools and educational institutions. The comic will then also be available in bookstores from March on. Read more…
Mediators actively on the road
Some have been involved for a long time, others joined the team in 2020: The mediators of the German New Patrons Society accompany the citizens' groups in their projects. Whenever a civic initiative wants to change a village, build a monument or realize an idea, the conversation begins with the mediator on site. They are scouts, advisors and negotiators. They avoid quick answers and do not have a ready-made construction plan in their luggage. Their specialty is the art of listening. Who are the mediators of the New Patrons?
New series within our Public Dialoge: Commissioned by – Art in Relation
In 2020, we discussed live and online within Whatever you Want! at Grüner Salon of the Volksbühne Berlin and on various other digital and real stages. This year, the new series Commissioned by – Art in Relation illuminates the specifics of an art on a civic mission from the perspectives of art history, sociology, anthropology, architecture and urban development, economics, art mediation, and conflict mediation. Essays, statements, proposals for action and practical formats such as seminars and workshops are presented on a monthly basis. Contributions by arch+, Karin Harrasser, Silke Helfrich/Commons Institute, Shannon Jackson, Judith Laister, Isabelle Stengers, Nora Sternfeld and international actors of the New Patrons, among others, will be available on our website as a growing archive as well as published with different media and cooperation partners. See Public Dialogue...
The patrons groups had a number of visits from press and media last year. Television and radio reports were broadcast by ZDF, Deutsche Welle, Deutschlandfunk and various stations of RBB, among others. Comprehensive articles appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, on Zeit online and in taz. Reports in the Rheinische Post, Berliner Zeitung and MOZ, to name just a few, accompanied the activities in the regions. The yearbook of the Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft and the magazine of the German Federal Cultural Foundation helped to raise awareness of the New Patrons model in Germany.
And then there was...
Since 2018, we have offered the seminar Mediation within the New Patrons model at the Institute for Art in Context at the Berlin University of the Arts. There have also been seminars and workshops at the Bauhaus University Weimar, the HfbK Dresden and other institutions, some of which will continue this year.