In 1992, the French project Initiative Nouveaux Commanditaires (New Sponsors Programme) was launched with the aim of creating a new vehicle for supporting the contemporary arts. Instead of relying on private or public funding organisations, the programme encourages local self-managed groups of citizens to establish contact with internationally renowned artists and commission a stand-alone work for their home town. According to the credo of the New Sponsors programme, any individual can become a sponsor of an important artwork. More than three hundred productions, many of which have taken several years to complete, have been commissioned in France through this programme so far. The fine arts, architecture, music, theatre – all artistic fields are represented. Financing is generally provided by private and public sponsors. In Germany, New Sponsors is still in its infancy. Especially in structurally weak and rural regions, there are many people interested in participating in such a community-based process which allows their voices to be heard and enables them to respond to challenges in their communities through contemporary art.
The Federal Cultural Foundation wishes to support the association of New Sponsors by providing start-up funding to develop a maximum of 20 projects. The Foundation will support these efforts until the organisers have come up with concrete artistic proposals. The financing for the actual realisation of the artworks should then be secured by the local group of New Sponsors. Any citizen can be a sponsor. Normally New Sponsors are small- to medium-sized locally-based groups of citizens who are committed to addressing an urgent, publicly relevant concern or issue in their community or neighbourhood. A mediator will consult and support the New Sponsors with finding a suitable, renowned artist who will work together with them to develop an artistic proposal for their respective project. Once the citizens, mediator and artist come to an agreement, the citizens assume responsibility for acquiring financing, organising policy matters, collaborating with regional partners from the artistic and cultural fields, and hosting civic dialogues throughout the commissioning process. An extensive and long-term civic commitment is a prerequisite for the success of these local participation projects.
The Federal Cultural Foundation has allocated a total of two million euros to support the New Sponsors programme from 2017 to 2020.