Our Dates

Supporting change in villages and cities with new creative energies – a look behind the scenes of citizen-commissioned art and mediation

Thursday, 18.11.2021, 2–5pm (in German)

An online event for planners and decisionmakers at the municipal and state levels and everyone interested in civic participation and decision-making processes.

We want to exchange ideas with you about how the New Patrons model offers unconventional insights into community processes and guidance on how to address even complex issues without intimidating would-be local activists. We throw open the door to our workshop and look forward to learning about your perspectives on and suggestions for what we do. We hope to launch a dialogue on how we can engage people in new conversations and on the key role that culture and art play for an innovative practice grappling with societal concerns.

We introduce you to a unique approach to civic participation.
The New Patrons’ mediation model casts citizens as active partners in dealing with local and cultural concerns of vital public interest. An innovative instrument that has been field-tested throughout Europe, it is now available to German municipal and regional governments as a productive way to channel creative energies into communal concerns. We talk about how citizens become patrons, how international artists bring change to places and communities, how cultural mediation tackles conflicts, and how political leaders, administrations, institutional actors, and funding bodies can forge new alliances that benefit broad public audiences. Are you a policymaker, an urban or regional development official involved in shaping change, or a professional in another field? Or would you like to learn more about the New Patrons model because it aligns with your personal interests? Either way, you are encouraged to attend. Participation is free.

The New Patrons’ program directors explain methods and structures, share experiences and insights from their practice, present exemplary projects. The open conversational format leaves room for discussions of specific points, including your own particular interests. All questions are very welcome!

This introduction to our program is held as a digital event; you will receive the invitation link in an email before the event starts. Please send us an email at webinar.at.neueauftraggeber.de to register. If you let us know what you do and where, we will take this information into account as we flesh out the workshop’s details.

Efforts to boost civic participation face mounting challenges. Distrust of political processes and a growing inability to live with conflicts on one side and centralized and streamlined structures on the other make it harder to implement participatory decision-making and often hobble efforts to engage in dialogue.

As the Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber, the German New Patrons, we are familiar with the promises and challenges of civic participation from our own work. Our projects empower citizens to bring the potentials of art to bear on pressing concerns or problems in their villages or neighborhoods. Supported by mediators, they articulate the mission they want art to take on. The objective is to change something about the local reality and shape the environment in which people’s lives are set. Art is rarely the primary interest from the start: it is almost always urgent problems, neglected issues, and sometimes simmering conflicts that prompt citizens to take action.

The New Patrons then bring international artists to the scene whose creative thinking and outsiders’ perspective enable them to develop unexpected solutions. At the same time, the citizen patrons’ active involvement gains public visibility; its prominent manifestation in a work of art serves as an example of what is possible, motivating others to become actively involved as well. To empower communities to reinvent themselves in this way or muster the courage to experiment with strategies toward a different future, we work closely with administrators and political decisionmakers as well as institutions in the field of art and culture. When a site is ultimately transformed and citizens take charge of their communities’ lives, that is always the fruit of a collaborative effort involving many parties.

If you think that you might benefit from our model, experiences, and mediation practice, we’ll be happy to discuss your options, including the possibility of realizing citizen-commissioned art projects in your municipality or region.

We look forward to meeting you!

Gerrit Gohlke, head of regional development, Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber, and Alexander Koch, director, Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber, host the program and share experiences and insights from their practice.

Welcome and introductions

Introduction to the New Patrons model of civic participation with concrete example projects: how a dilapidated one-room schoolhouse is transformed into a new community attraction and a condemned building into a village beach


Cooperative ventures in cities and municipalities: a report from practice
Raising unconventional questions to rediscover familiar spaces and themes—how we share knowledge and forge new paths together

Introduction to the New Patrons’ cost and financing model
The New Patrons as an offer and blueprint for action to be rolled out throughout Germany

Discussion and final remarks

Event concludes

Image: Die Neuen Auftraggeber von Züsedom, photo: Victoria Tomaschko


In Europe and beyond, citizen-commissioned art has become a broad movement since the 1990s that continues to grow, generating more and more voices, commissions, and formats. Seven national organizations representing close to 100 mediators of the New Patrons network in their respective countries now have joined forces and founded the Societé Internationale des Nouveaux Commanditaires – the International New Patrons Society.


Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) again supports New Patrons

There is reason to celebrate at New Patrons! We are delighted that the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) today announced its decision to fund a nationwide program for dance and performance commissioned by citizens.

Around 15 artistic projects can be initiated from 2023 to 2028 by civic groups and implemented together with international artists. The German Federal Cultural Foundation is providing five million euros for this purpose.

The funding is an important step toward expanding and establishing citizen-commissioned art in Germany – and a recognition of this innovative model, which was already successfully funded by the Federal Cultural Foundation in a pilot phase…


We mourn the passing of Kobe Matthys (1970-2023), who died at the age of only 52. 

As part of Ruth Buchanan's project A Garden with Bridges (Spine, Stomach, Throat, Ear) for the New Patrons of Mönchengladbach, Kobe Matthys was a guest advisor in Mönchengladbach in 2021 and 2022 to reflect on the development of a (community) garden with the commissioning groups. As a place that renews itself on many levels, this garden is a reflection of a city that is undergoing radical change due to the transformation of industrial processes, late capitalism and changing needs of its inhabitants. We reflected with Kobe Matthys on the process involved in creating a community garden. He generously shared his experience and immense knowledge. As an artist living in Brussels, he was a member of the Zenne…


On 22 October 2022 a mosaic picture has been inaugurated in the garden at the village house in Wietstock in Western Pomerania, which was developed by the renowned artist Antje Majewski in an exchange with a group of villagers. The picture, which measures just under six square metres, was produced in a Berlin workshop as a high-quality mosaic from Italian glass stones and shows animals and plants that are significant for the commissioning group from the village in Western Pomerania.

The New Patrons Initiative was funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation for the development of the commission and the design. The realisation of the mosaic by cosmomusivo mosaik was funded by Kunstverein Rügen e.V. through Stiftung Kunstfonds / #NeustartKultur as well as Fondation de France and the…


The SeeCampus Niederlausitz was expanded to include a creative thinking space. Sol Calero's Casa Isadora was adapted to the needs and wishes of the students during a three-day workshop. The work now remains on campus as an open thinking and recreation space for the students. 

Many thanks to all involved - the students of the SeeCampus who contributed with creativity and passion and to Sol Calero!

Photos: Victoria Tomaschko


"This is the most unusual project of my entire career" - Sasha Waltz. 

On 10 & 11 September in Marl, one could experience how the action model of the New Patrons came to bear as a catalyst of a new communality.

The renowned choreographer Sasha Waltz made an entire city dance with "In C - Marler Partitur".

On the performance weekend, the actors moved in a spiral to the city centre, where the big performance with all participants and dancers of the company Sasha Waltz & Guests took place at the end of the second day.


Four years after the start of the project, the construction of three accessible steel sculptures has begun in the city of Mönchengladbach, providing access to the inner-city garden of the Mönchengladbach Unemployment Centre. Supplemented by a pavilion with an outdoor kitchen, a garden with bridges by Ruth Buchanan is being created here, which aims to create space for gardening, meeting and recreation. The sculptures are named after parts of the body and thus refer to the meaning of the garden as an organism.

Within the framework of a mediation process of the New Patrons Initiative, the team and visitors of the Mönchengladbach Unemployment Centre and pupils and teachers of the nearby Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium Mönchengladbach took the initiative for a joint project that was to…


Marl dances: For over two weeks, citizens of Marl had the opportunity to approach the choreography of "In C" based on the composition by Terry Riley in workshops with tutors from the company Sasha Waltz & Guests. Interested audience members were able to see the first results in an open rehearsal before the whole of Marl is invited to dance in September.

Photos: Florian Wagner


On the weekend of 10 & 11 September, the premiere of "In C - Marler Partitur" by Sasha Waltz will take place in Marl.
With this piece by the internationally renowned artist, Marl will be the setting for a unique experiment in which an entire city is involved in a choreography and thus experiences itself as a community across all borders and barriers.
Over 120 dancers and audience members will form a procession and move in a spiral towards the city centre. The movement begins on Saturday, 10 September at 13:00 at the Scharoun School in Marl Westfalenstraße and ends with a joint performance by all participants, including amateurs as well as dancers from Sasha Waltz & Guests, on Sunday, 11 September at 17:00 at the Forum in Marl. 

For more information on locations, participants and how you can…


Mariana Castillo Deball will develop a work for Friedland. The starting point will be the hiking trails and the treasures of the villages that the clients of Friedland have already collected. The first visits and walks have already taken place.

The artist explores ideologically constructed conditions under which artefacts appear in today's culture. To do this, she gathers information from various disciplines such as archaeology and science. Through research and collaboration, she creates works that emerge from the collision and recombination of these different languages.

Mariana Castillo Deball lives and works in Berlin and Mexico City. Her work has been shown at MUAC Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City, 2021), Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen (Siegen, 2021), Modern Art…