The New Patrons program provides citizens with the opportunity to realize their cultural and artistic visions in collaboration with internationally renowned artists. Citizens are themselves the patrons of these projects. Giving people from all walks of life the chance to participate in the creation of contemporary art — like so many private and public patrons before them — represents a radical shift. The sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour sees it as the start of a new chapter in art and social history, one in which the population at large becomes the initiator of a democratically representative production of art. Community members work together with mediators and artists as equal partners in the creation of public goods. The process overcomes institutionalized patterns of social exclusion and puts cultural participation back on its feet: people no longer merely consume art; they also have the right to procure it as they see fit.
Alexander Koch is a curator, gallerist, writer, lecturer, and cultural mediator whose work concentrates on economic and institutional transformations within the art world. In 2008, he co-founded KOW, a Berlin-based gallery that specializes in art with a social purpose and that has featured the work of international artists such as Hito Steyerl, Chto Delat, Tobias Zielony, and Candice Breitz. In 2008, Koch co-initiated the New Patrons program in Germany — an international network that provides citizens with the means to commission art projects in response to social issues — and today serves as its director. Koch has since started New Patrons initiatives in Africa and India.