New Patrons





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