New Patrons




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.

What? 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.

Who? 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!

Where? 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 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.

Why? 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!

Program 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.

2pm Welcome and introductions

2:15pm 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

3pm Q&A

3:15pm 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

4pm 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

4:30pm Discussion and final remarks

5pm Event concludes

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


The New Patrons of Waldeck-Frankenberg and the artist collective nachbars garten present the project Wasserzeichen (Water Marks)

Saturday, 4.9.2021, beginning: 2 pm

Presentation of the artistic concept to the public with welcome addresses from Dr. Reinhard Kubat, District Administrator of Waldeck-Frankenberg and Ljubica Nikolic, University of Göttingen.

Meeting place: Dorfgemeinschaftshaus (Village community center), Torweg 8, 35110 Ellershausen, coordinates: 51°04'46.9"N 8°53'34.9"E

The unusual art project commissioned by the Waldeck-Frankenberg Water Initiative makes visible the threat to water as a resource and commits the people of the region in a movement to protect water as the source of all life.

The citizen-commissioners and the artists will present their initiative to the public together. In a subsequent performance, exemplary first marks will be set, whose signal effect gives expression to the fleeting nature of water as a resource. The audience will be able to perceive how the water marks evaporate at the very moment of their creation. The only testimony that remains is the incisive urgency of the shared memory of actions, marks and gestures experienced together in the moment.

The public performance is the prelude to a process of further mark setting in the region and beyond, whether these be material or immaterial, on front doors, facades, on streets and squares, on the Internet - wherever they attain the attention of fellow human beings and stimulate conversations about aspects of the manifold threats to water as a resource.

More about the project at New Patrons of Waldeck-Frankenberg

Photo: Kay Zimmermann


Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber Receives Award

The Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber has won the Zukunftspreis KULTURGESTALTEN award in the “initiative and network projects” category. The award, which honors forward-thinking cultural policy initiatives and is sponsored by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, was presented yesterday.

We are extraordinarily pleased by the news that we have been honored with this award. It honors an entire network of civic associations, creative artists, and their partners, whom we at the Society of the New Patrons advise and support as they embark on ambitious projects to transform a piece of their surroundings and communities.

Developed by Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e.V., the new award honors exemplary initiatives and outstanding projects that put forward-thinking cultural policy ideas into practice. It is designed to generate attention for innovative practices, visions, and paradigms in cultural policy and spotlight the honorees’ distinctive contributions to civil society. The award is given out every two years in the three categories “standalone projects,” “initiative and network projects,” and “(pilot) projects in municipal self-government” and comes with a total prize money of €15,000. Established in 1976, Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft e.V. (KuPoGe) is a nonpartisan alliance of individuals and organizations throughout Germany who take an active interest in cultural policy. It is the leading platform for debates around cultural policy in Germany and guided by the conviction that “cultural policy is social policy.”

“The New Patrons are an innovative and participatory model for a cultural policy that is designed to meet the sociopolitical needs of the day and facilitates a democratic production of ‘culture for all by all.’ Their approach provides a thematically open framework that allows for a discourse to be cast into concrete form, and is scalable and adaptable to a variety of contents and structures. The organization of the project’s work in several model regions throughout Germany ensures its broad-based impact,” Dr. Tobias Knoblich (president, Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft) explained the jury’s decision during yesterday’s award presentation ceremony.

“The New Patrons’ winning this prominent accolade makes us optimistic that their model project of a democratic culture aspiring to the highest standards of artistic quality will be adopted more widely in Germany as well. The Federal Cultural Foundation believes that the award acknowledges a successful partnership between art and politics in which all parties’ actions are guided by the interests of civil society.” Hortensia Völckers, artistic director, Federal Cultural Foundation.

Image: Die Neuen Auftraggeber von Eberswalde. Photo: Victoria Tomaschko


Moenchengladbach: Kick-off of Ruth Buchanan's project with workshops and films

We kick off Ruth Buchanan's work A garden with bridges (spine, stomach, throat, ear) for the New Patrons of Moenchengladbach with a three-part workshop series starting in June 2021. In collaborative formats, Ruth Buchanan will introduce the content of the commission and the center points of the patrons group. Topics such as work and working life, health and movement, experience of self and other come up in the workshops and enable a temporary coming together of different groups and people on the Abteiberg in Moenchengladbach.

The events take place as a cooperation of the Kunststiftung im Museum Abteiberg with the Arbeitslosenzentrum Moenchengladbach e.V. and the Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium.


No such things as weeds: Care, growth, regeneration.

SATURDAY, 26.6.2021, 10 am–12 pm and 1–3pm

10 am–12 pm: Online lecture with Kobe Matthys (Zenne Garden) followed by a conversation. 1–3pm: Visit to the local EWILPA wild plant park. Free of charge, in German and English, registration at

FRIDAY 3.9.2021, 2–5 pm

Wild plant workshop with Caroline Pekle in the garden of the Arbeitslosenzentrum Moenchengladbach e.V. Lüpertzender Str. 69, 41061 Moenchengladbach Free of charge, in German, registration at

These sessions are an opportunity to reconsider the arc of developing a (community) garden, the process that this entails and the relationships this process engenders—relationships toward a community but also toward ourselves. In a location requiring regeneration on many levels, the site as historically loaded with authoritarianism, and as a reflection of a city that has faced radical transition due to changes in industrial processes, late capitalism, and shifts in the way we use our cities.

The workshop welcomes two garden practitioners to share their experiences and knowledge with the unemployment center garden users and their community and connects with local permaculture practitioner Meike Koppmann who leads EWILPA.

Kobe Matthys is an artist from Brussels and a member of the collective Zenne Garden, a regenerative community garden project in a former industrial zone of Brussels. He will offer insight into this process, as well as introduce the concept of a garden charter and user library all of which is grounded in the concept “the knowledge is already here, we just have to engage”. This online session will be complimented by tours through EWILPA, a local project already engaging with this work.

Caroline Pekle is a holistic practitioner living in Northern Bavaria. She will lead a hands-on session where she introduces us to several plants growing on the site and the many benefits they can offer us. We’ll learn how to make nourishing infusions with the plant for ourselves as well as for the garden, how to harvest and dry, and finally how to embed these plants into our diet for access to their diverse benefits.

Where does my body belong? Research in motion: from and into the sensory body

SATURDAY, 4.9.2021, 10AM–1PM AND 3–6PM

A Gaga/people and Somatic Sequencing workshop with Tanja Saban Suitable for people from the age of 14 and over. No previous experience required. Sports hall of the Stiftisches Humanistisches Gymnasium Abteistraße 17, 41061 Moenchengladbach Free of charge, in German, registration with indication of the desired time period at This is the same workshop offered at two times.

Expanding on the concepts of regeneration and care, this workshop explores physical awareness and the powerful relationships that can emerge as you tune into your sensory self, networking our physical self with our more abstract psyche and subsequently setting into motion our relationship with our surroundings: physical, cultural, social, and economical. Each iteration of this half day workshop will be structured in two parts Gaga/people and Somatic Sequencing.

Gaga/people is a movement language that offers a framework in which the participants connect with the body and their imagination, experience physical sensations, practice an expanded understanding of agility, encounter explosive power and the joy of movement in an inviting atmosphere that can accommodate all mobility levels. The participants are guided through a series of evocative instructions that sensitize and reinforce the awareness of body sensations. Not dissimilar to developing a garden, this workshop overlays and condenses, creating a multi-sensory experience. The improvisational nature of the research enables each participant to have a very personal connection with Gaga.

The Somatic Sequencing session will expand on this and focus on the way the quality of our perception influences the quality of our movement. We awaken the sensory body and immerse ourselves in our inner landscapes, our anatomy. By visualizing anatomical structures, touching and moving, we explore different body layers and their function. A differentiated perception refines the body awareness and creates space for reorganization and expansion of our movement patterns. We explore where and how movement is initiated, how it continues in the body, how it orchestrates rhythm and textures. Fine listening into our microcosm expands our perception and articulation skills on a variety of scales as we relate to ourselves and the wider contexts in which we function.

Midnight / Worker: History, temporality and context Film program hosted at Museum Abteiberg

SUNDAY, 19.9.2021, 3 PM

Berwick Street Collective: Nightcleaners, 1975 16mm film, shown as HD video, 90 minutes, OV (English).

Free of charge, registration at Museum Abteiberg, Abteistraße 27, 41061 Moenchengladbach

SUNDAY, 26.9.2021, 3 PM

Andrea Büttner: What is so terrible about craft? / Die Produkte der menschlichen Hand, 2019 Two-channel video, sound, 34 minutes, OV (German with German subtitles for the hearing impaired) Donated by Outset Germany_Switzerland, Museum Abteiberg Collection

Rosalind Nashashibi: Vivian ́s Garden, 2017 16mm film, shown as HD video, color/sound, 29:50 minutes, OV (English, German)

Maya Schweizer: Voices and Shells, 2020. Video, color, 18 minutes, OV (French with English and German subtitles)

Free of charge, registration at Museum Abteiberg, Abteistraße 27, 41061 Moenchengladbach

This film program brings the concepts of care and physicality as explored in the workshops together by looking at them through the relationships that unfold between our working bodies and our physical environments, or broadly between spatial and temporal parameters of participation in the socio-economic sphere. Presenting a landmark work of British labor politics from the 1970s with recent work by three women filmmakers we begin to access the contingency at stake for our place within our own communities and society at large. These works span the documentary to the intimate, and offer a textured insight into the concept of the working (and thus living and acting) human being. Viewed in a group these works underscore the various historical precedents from which we speak, work, and relate today, and ultimately reveal the tenuousness of impact we have on our contexts and the context on us.

Supported by Kunststiftung NRW and Heidehof Stiftung

Image: Caroline Pekle in her garden. Photo: Caroline Pekle



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. Comission complete 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...Press review 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.


Whatever You Want! #8: Online edition



With Lewamm Ghebremariam, campaign strategist at e. V., founder of the network Wake Up Eritrea, board member of Clubcommission e. V. Christopher Lauer, publicist and former member of the Berlin House of Representatives Alexander Koch, director of the Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber (Society of New Patrons)

Moderation Christine Watty, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

We are pleased to present the 8th edition of our event series Whatever you Want! in collaboration with Volksbühne Berlin as an online format.


Online petitions, iconoclasms and toppling monuments, civil disobedience and bottom-up processes—current participation models all have one thing in common: they believe that participation in civil society goes beyond representative and democratic processes.

In recent months, for example, the Fridays for Future movement and Black Lives Matter protests have increased public awareness of demands to deal with climate change and racism. Is this mobilization an expression of the often-cited “crisis of democracy” or, on the contrary, a sign of the vitality of the democratic model.

Against this background, we want to learn more about trust in existing political institutions—and about progressive ideas for an optimistic update to democracy. We will take a look into the analog and digital toolbox of civic engagement and ask what we can achieve with which instruments. The focus, at the end of the parliamentary day, is on everything that differentiates fantasies of empowerment and feel-good yet politically ineffective clicktivism from action that might actually change the world.

Guests enter into the ambivalences of current forms of collective self-empowerment. What is there to the concept of initiative democracy, which offers self-representation as an alternative to being represented? Who speaks for whom? Who is (not) participating? What about power? And what does art do?


Was Ihr wollt! Die Neuen Auftraggeber: Ermächtigungsfantasien? Petitionen, Liquid Democracy, Neue Auftraggeber


According to the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute on the COVID-19 virus, the event has unfortunately been cancelled. We will inform you promptly about a possible new date for the event. You can find detailed information about the refund modalities of already purchased tickets HERE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020, 7pm@Grüner Salon/ Volksbühne Berlin Panel discussion, in German

With Alexander Koch, Director Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber Christopher Lauer, publicist and former member of the Berlin House of Representatives Paula Peters, Chief Global Officer Europe at Host: Pia Rauschenberger, journalist (Deutschlandfunk Kultur, amongst others)

From online petitions, a democracy festival in the Olympic Stadium, demands for liquid democracy, and civil disobedience in climate policy to bottom-up processes in Neue Auftraggeber projects, participation models currently being discussed have one thing in common: they conceive civil society participation beyond traditional representative-democratic processes.

Is this part of the oft-cited “crisis of democracy,” a symptom of lost trust in existing political institutions? Or, on the contrary, an assertive update to democracy as an expression of a contemporary, lively parliament of the many? And more importantly: are these effective instruments in the analogue and digital toolbox of civic engagement? What can we actually achieve with such tools? At the end of the parliamentary day, do they remain nothing more than fantasies of empowerment, politically ineffective feel-good clicktivism?

This evening will be dedicated to answering these questions. It will interrogate the ambivalences in current forms of collective self-empowerment. What is there to the concept of initiative democracy, which opposes being-represented to self-representation? Who speaks for who? Who is (or isn’t) part of the conversation? How does power figure in with this? And what is art’s role?

Further info and tickets Photo: Tadashi Kawamata, Mémoire en demeure, 2003-2006, Saint-Thélo, France © Les Nouveaux Commanditaires

Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Kindly supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe and the Federal Agency for Civic Education.


Was Ihr wollt! Die Neuen Auftraggeber: Neue Bauherrschaften - Öffentliche Architektur im Bürgerinnenauftrag

Dienstag, den 14. Januar 2020 um 19:00 Uhr

In Kooperation mit ARCH+

„Architektur ist das Ordnen von sozialen Beziehungen durch Gebautes“, so der Philosoph Christian Posthofen. Und also ist Architektur auch ein sozialer Kampfplatz: Wem gehört und wer nutzt das Gebaute? Wer plant es, wer braucht es – und wozu? Und das öffentliche Bauen? Wer entscheidet über das Programm, die Finanzierung, die Gestaltung, wenn neue Schulen und Rathäuser, Straßen und Plätze entstehen? Wem gehört die Stadt, wem das Dorf? Das Gespräch an diesem Abend will neue Perspektiven und progressive Beispiele einer neuen öffentlichen Architektur im Bürgerinnenauftrag aufzeigen. In Kooperation mit der Architekturzeitschrift ARCH+ sollen Projekte und Debatten aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart Wege aufzeigen, wie neue Bauherrschaften aus allen Teilen der Gesellschaft das öffentliche Bauen zu ihrer Sache machen können, um soziale Beziehungen neu zu gestalten.

Diskussionsrunde in deutscher Sprache mit u.a. Christoph Schäfer, Künstler, Stadtplaner, Planbude Alexander Koch, Direktor Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber Anh-Linh Ngo, Herausgeber / Editor-in-chief ARCH+Hier gibt es mehr Info und Tickets. Foto: Simon Patterson, La maison forestière, 2011, Ors, France © Les Nouveaux Commanditaires Gefördert durch die Kulturstiftung des Bundes. Mit freundlicher Unterstützung der Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa und der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

No projects details available