A movement as a chain reaction, where the extraordinary emotions of ordinary citizens result in commissioning works of art, which at their turn, cause emotions, opinions and discussions.
In this movement, artworks are both the outcome and the purpose of debate. Discussions invite to take a stand and conversations lead to involvement and engagement. The, at first, sole ideas of the initialing citizens will spread out in the community. Pillars of communality are here created, starting from authentic emotions and ideas.
In front of the growing lack of interest in the immediate vicinity are these citizens’ initiatives an antidote to indifference.
Contemporary art always tries to introduce a ‘dismeasure’ in the ordinary measure of the culture we are used to live in. It reminds us that ‘Everything that is, can also always be otherwise’. This tendency to dismeasure is precisely why confrontations with contemporary artistic expressions often lead to debate and dissent, to show that other visions, opinions and interpretations are always possible.
Democracy can only maintain its legitimacy if it makes the transformation of inequalities the core of its politics, and facilitates the manifestation of minorities. It does so precisely by radically opening up the common public space as the arena for different ideas and opinions. Contemporary art is one of the tools to break open this common sphere.
Making art - making society
In our democratic Europe, no one should be just the spectator or even worse; a reject of a story they don't feel part of any longer. Instead, citizens should be fully-fledged players and be able to take up a public engagement by giving form to their emotions and ideas.
The aim of the New Patrons is to meet this challenge by making the art scene the laboratory of this democratic ideal, which can of course only be the result of a deliberate collective action.
Collective action - distinct responsibilities
An action in which the citizen takes the authority to publicly state his need for expression as well as to assess what is produced in the name of art. By assuming full responsibility as an active partner equal to the artist, the citizen is a key player instead of a noncommittal participant. It is precisely by embracing their distinct responsibilities that each party brings a communal meaning to their individual commitment, as well as to the artwork.
In order to enable citizen and artist to fully exercise their tasks, a mediator assists both parties. This mediator is an art professional, a curator, who besides his job in a museum or art institution commits himself here to listen to the citizen and subsequently act in according. His responsibility is to sustain the viability of the commission and to ensure an enduring quality of the artwork.
Sharing and life long learning as part of an empowering process
With the experience and the knowledge of the mediator, artist and citizen combined, this tripartite can ensure public involvement, authenticity and quality. Moreover the sharing of expertise with a growing group within the community guarantees an empowering process and a ’life long learning’ experience.
The artworks become the talk of the town: the citizens are prepared to debate their cause
While the ultimate goal is the artwork, the quality of the process is utterly important, and deliberately empowering. Standing for the ideas of a community, the work will be questioned and the community will be called in account. During the process and beyond, the original group of citizens will see themselves grow in numbers to defend and cherish the work: The artworks become talk of the town, but the citizens are prepared to debate their cause.
Art as an actor in society
The quality of the work of art should be strong enough to enable the work to become, eventually, an independent actor in society, generating meaning on meaning, even beyond the initial commission, serving new and other communities.
The approach of the New Patrons has now gone beyond a mere declaration of intention; it is a tangible reality with a solid body of accomplished artworks. These works reflect and demonstrate the fact that both citizens and artists have the intelligence and the courage necessary to highlight contemporary cultural needs and act in consequence.
This mode of action is becoming more and more relevant in an age where we need defining the relation of the citizen within the community.
Funded and developed in France, it is now time to spread the word and the action and to make it a real European movement.
For this European endeavour core funding is needed.