New Patrons

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Pilot phase in Germany

In a five-year pilot phase funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation through 2021, citizens in two model regions in Germany commission new art projects and oversee their realization. Five mediators with many years of experience in facilitating such projects consult with the local communities and cooperate with partner institutions acting as regional anchor points.

Thousands of European citizens have become New Patrons and realized hundreds of projects. The Federal Cultural Foundation now endorses this model and seeks to increase its popularity among the wider German public. The plan is to support exemplary projects that illustrate the significance and vitality of a contemporary art that engages with citizens’ concerns and issues in all domains of social life.

The Gesellschaft der Neuen Auftraggeber’s Berlin office has coordinated the pilot phase since May 2017. A small team works with local policymakers and representatives of the business community and civil society in the model regions to identify untapped cultural potentials. Realizing outstanding projects and unleashing productive social energies outside the major centers will require new alliances uniting partners from all sectors of society. The Neue Auftraggeber are actively looking for such partners—in Germany, in Europe, and beyond.

The team is also developing event formats such as roundtables, continuing education programs, and lecture series as well as an international New Patrons convention to be held in Berlin in Spring 2020.

Regions and Anchor Points

Changes in society are a challenge for all of us. The two model regions on which the German New Patrons, with support from the Federal Cultural Foundation, currently focus their activities are certainly no exception.

One is a rural area; the other is heavily industrialized. With each project, we gain more experience that will subsequently help us as we expand our activities into other parts of Germany. In close consultation between the Berlin office, the mediators, and our local partner institutions, the anchor points, we build sustained collaborative relationships that will also pave the way for additional New Patrons projects. The anchor points serve as regional contact points and meeting places facilitating communication between the mediators, citizens, and artists involved in a project.

The Model Regions

Rural northeastern Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg

Rural northeastern Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg

People in northeastern Germany are confronting considerable challenges. Many cities, towns, and villages have shrunk because large numbers of people have moved away. Meanwhile, a certain level of prosperity has returned to some regional centers. The first wave of demographic decline not only affected economic and administrative structures and institutions. As businesses shut down or downsized, the region’s cultural identity was impacted as well, an effect compounded by outward migration and the arrival of newcomers. These wrenching changes make the news when certain groups undergo political radicalization. The New Patrons, by contrast, home in on earlier and less conspicuous processes and seek to help jumpstart a constructive conversation on visions of the future not distorted by stereotypes. Sidestepping entrenched divisions, culture can point ways for ordinary citizens to take charge of their communities’ development.

West Germany’s old industrial heartland: a region in economic transformation North Rhine–Westphalia / Ruhr district and Rhineland

West Germany’s old industrial heartland: a region in economic transformation North Rhine–Westphalia / Ruhr district and Rhineland

The Ruhr district has become an emblem of never-ending economic transformation. Yet managing industrial decline and the shift to an economy centered on services isn’t the only concern in this region, which has done more than others to preserve and examine its own history and culture. The future of peri-urban areas between cities and countryside, the reorganization of urban structures, migration, education: these, too, are important issues along the Rhine and Ruhr. Overindebted municipalities and growing social divisions remain challenges, but new structures of practiced solidarity and fresh ideas for the future are central to region’s self-image. The Rhineland, the other area that is part of the New Patrons’ western model region, is likewise defined by the proximity of urbanized and rural environments. Treasuring their distinctive cultural history, the communities of this area, which borders on Belgium and the Netherlands, are developing novel strategies to cope with the effects of social and economic change.

Anchor Points

Schloss Bröllin e.V. © Schloss Bröllin e.V. Archiv

Schloss Bröllin e.V. © Schloss Bröllin e.V. Archiv

Schloss Bröllin

The manor house and grounds of Schloss Bröllin are set in eastern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, near the Polish border. Founded in 1992, Schloss Bröllin e.V. is an international forum for experimental theater productions. The association runs an artist-in-residence program and organizes workshops, festivals, regional exhibitions, and symposia to foster artistic production, strengthen regional networks, promote cultural education for young audiences, and contribute to the national and international cultural scenes. As a New Patrons anchor point, Schloss Bröllin can build on these experiences, enlarging its methodological and geographical scope and offering advice and support to projects in eastern Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the region along the Polish-German border.

© Kunstverein Schwerin für Mecklenburg und Vorpommern e.V

© Kunstverein Schwerin für Mecklenburg und Vorpommern e.V

Kunstverein Schwerin für Mecklenburg und Vorpommern

Kunstverein Schwerin was founded in 2002 with the goal of establishing a forum for contemporary visual art. It has realized a wide range of exhibitions and projects, initially at various temporary venues such as empty storefronts or Schwerin Cathedral and more recently at the arts association’s permanent home in the buildings of the former generating station on Pfaffenteich, one of the lakes that dot the city. Andreas Wegner, who was appointed artistic and managing director in October 2015, has further raised the Kunstverein’s ambitious profile. He sees its new role as a New Patrons anchor point as an opportunity to engage audiences throughout the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern by launching pilot projects to foster the growth of model structures that will promote a better understanding of cultural production and strengthen local identities throughout the region.

© Museum Abteiberg

© Museum Abteiberg

Museum Abteiberg

Museum Abteiberg, a municipal museum in Mönchengladbach, not only boasts an outstanding collection and a distinctive architectural identity, it has also initiated a long-term process of institutional self-reinvention that will open it up to the urban society around it. Director Susanne Titz, who has led the museum since 2004, emphasizes the important role it plays in a city going through economic and demographic structural changes, which it actively addresses with numerous projects. As an anchor point for the New Patrons, the museum is well positioned to encourage and implement new models of civic participation. In 2016, the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) honored Museum Abteiberg with its “Museum of the Year” award.

© Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam e.V

© Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam e.V

Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam

In 2011, the Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam (BKV) moved into its current home, a pavilion in the Freundschaftsinsel park. The venue brings together diverse audiences: the BKV’s exhibitions attract the residents of nearby retirement homes as well as tourists from far-flung countries. Describing the Kunstverein on the island in the River Havel as a model project testing forms of direct dialogical engagement with the public, its longstanding artistic director Gerrit Gohlke has also sought to expand the association’s work into rural Brandenburg. A New Patrons partner since 2010, the BKV has developed projects involving international artists and the residents of Brandenburg’s regions, fostering art in rural locations as a way to build bridges between the art world and outlying parts of the state.

Pilot phase in Germany