Questions & Answers

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Everyone! In Europe, thousands of people have been involved in the accomplishment of more than 400 projects. People from all professional fields and from all social backgrounds can become patrons. From the town to the country, every location is a possible site and every issue worthy of consideration. Generally, a group of patrons is between three and twenty people. The issue or the desire bringing them together may be of direct concern to them, or go beyond their own interests and implicate a broader community. Most of the time it is a small group that launches the project and we then bring in our experience to ensure that it is successfully carried through to completion.

Initially, a project may not seem to be related to art at all. It has to do with you, with something that needs to change, something that you want to make publicly visible. You do not need to have any knowledge or appreciation of art in general for this. However, you do need to be willing to imagine an artistic creation as capable of resolving a common problem, or as a way of drawing attention to a particular cause. It is the artist who will find an artistic solution, while your role consists in defining your expectations and your needs. An artistic creation touches very different people and manifests something which might be important to many, beyond the interests of the group initiating the project. Art allows us to open up new perspectives in situations that are complicated, or that have even come to a standstill; art finds a new language where words are lacking. Things that previously seemed impossible can fall into place and move forward. Experience shows that when people get together around an artistic project, a whole movement gets underway.

While every project is unique, certain stages are critical to its success. When a commission process is launched, the first phase of mediation happens between the group of patrons and the mediator. Together, they write up a set of specifications which define the purpose of the project and the parameters for the artist’s intervention.

The mediator then makes use of his/her expertise in art to find an artist whose practice resonates with the spirit of the commission. He/she invites the patrons to choose an artist from the two or three artistic profiles that he/she presents to them. After multiple meetings, the artist who has been chosen develops an outline of the project . This is then presented to the group for discussion and confirmation, as well as to the partners.

The mediator and the New Patrons association then support the execution of the project, from the search for funding and authorisation through to the production of the work. During the final phase, the group of patrons helps the association by offering ideas for how to cement local partnerships or for the organisation of events.

Between the first meeting with the mediator and the inauguration of the work, many years can go by. In general, the patrons choose to meet every two months during the first phase, but the group can decide to have meetings more or less frequently. Several meetings are required for writing up the specifications and for discussions with the artist. The artist then needs time to carry out his/her own research and come up with an outline. According to the nature of the project, the authorisations and inspections (regarding technical or security matters, etc.) account for still further months of refinement. As a general rule, the search for funding takes six months to two years before production can begin and the project finally be completed. Although the involvement of the patrons is less necessary during certain phases, it is advisable to anticipate a commitment that stretches out over a considerable period of time. Taking time often also allows for considering different ideas, and improves decision making.

The uniqueness of the New Patrons approach is based on a process of in-depth and continuous dialogue between citizens and an artist, facilitated by the mediator. The artist is chosen by the mediator on the basis of the resonance between his or her practice and the particularities of the commission. The concurrent involvement of several artists or the organization of a competition would not allow for the same level of dialogue and collaboration.

Most of the time, the artist selected for a commission comes from somewhere else, bringing a fresh perspective and an independent view of the project. Creators with the most varied practices, often internationally renowned, have taken part in New Patrons projects throughout Europe. The works produced, often intended for permanent installation in public space, take multiple forms: sculpture, installation, landscape, architecture, town planning, design, photography, painting… Some take other forms and modes of distribution: cinema, theatre, performance, literature, music, etc.

With New Patrons there is no jury or single person who will judge a request and reach a decision. The decisions are made together with the patrons, the mediators and the artists after lengthy discussion. The quality of the project is evaluated by all of the participants and with the expertise of the mediators, who have the responsibility of ensuring that the commission is exemplary in both a social and an artistic sense.

The mediators’ work is remunerated by the New Patrons association. The association receives substantial funding from Stiftung Mercator, which also pays for a portion of our administrative and running costs. We are actively looking for new partners to support the development of our structure.

The funding of the artwork, from its conception to its execution, is organised in a manner specific to each project. It is possible for a project to be partially or fully publicly funded, but it may also require fundraising from private foundations.

Sometimes the patrons make use of crowdfunding to bring in the amounts needed to complete the funding of a project. Depending on the nature of the project, partnerships with businesses can be established for its technical implementation.

From the very first stages of the project, and according to the context in which it will be carried out, the New Sponsors work to ensure the future of the artistic work or project by establishing partnerships with the public and private organizations that will be responsible for it. For example, if the project is to be accomplished in a public or private place, an agreement on transfer of ownership and maintenance during a defined time period will be concluded between the New Sponsors, the artist, and the owner of the site

The New Patrons support citizens coming from all backgrounds who, facing social issues or questions of regional development, take the initiative of connecting an artist with their concerns by commissioning an artwork.

If you feel addressed by this initiative, or if you wish to make suggestions for locations or issues for the purpose of a commission, do not hesitate to contact us.

French-speaking Switzerland:
Charlotte Laubard: email ↗

German-speaking Switzerland:
Yasmin Afschar: email ↗