Support Services

Art Support Services continued in its second year within the Burning Man Art department during 2004. We evaluated requirements of all art projects that received funding from Black Rock City LLC for materials, equipment, and labor requirements on the playa. Activities for 2004 focused on further refining how the team interacts with The Artery and Department of Public Works (DPW). Communication and the tracking of information also played a larger role. The team’s central mission involves monitoring art funded by Project honoraria from initial proposal through funding, pre-playa development and construction, arrival on the playa, erection and completion on-site, through tear-down and removal from the playa at the end of the event.

To fulfill this mission, the team works to quantify as accurately as possible what resources artists will need to achieve their stated intentions regarding the erection of art on the playa. We then coordinate the resources that DPW and the Art department will provide in support of those artists, including heavy equipment (cranes, forklifts, snorkel lifts, flatbeds, and trenchers), light equipment (pylons, delineators, barricades, fence posts, etc.), soft resources (water, sand, electric), and volunteers to make it all happen. Within the larger focus of the Art department, Art Support Services applies resources specifically to aid artists in achieving their creative visions. See our 2003 AfterBurn Report.

The secondary focus of Art Support Services is to document the services provided. We track labor-hours, equipment usage, transportation needs, and clean-up efforts. This information allows us to report back to artists about the true costs of their artwork, and it provides accurate figures for department budgets. This accumulated data gives a basis for setting future budgets.

Past Challenges

The challenges faced by this team vary in proportion to the variety of art we facilitate and the change and growth of other Burning Man departments. Both DPW and the Art department have been undergoing vast changes. While their overall missions have remained unchanged from previous years, both have significantly altered their methods of implementation and organization. In 2004, Art Support Services was generated within the Art department, as opposed to being created out of DPW. During pre-event planning, communication lines were created to DPW and other departments in the effort to coordinate needed resources. Due to a variety of factors, these lines of communication failed to achieve the necessary flow of information, and Art Support Services struggled with a lack of necessary equipment and labor. Communicating the nature and needs of Art Support Services to other departments has become the department’s highest priority for 2005.

Future Challenges

Each year brings new challenges, seen and unseen. In our efforts to quantify needs and marshal appropriate resources, Art Support Services is challenged to stay in communication with all the artists needing support. We must also reinvigorate communication links with the various departments that help artists to complete their work. As we build these lines of communication for the new year, we are challenged to convey the nature of our needs. Our needs take the form of planning ahead, procuring equipment, coordinating volunteers, providing timelines to other departments, and establishing on-site, inter-departmental communications in Black Rock City. We are striving this year to minimize the unseen challenges by being more fully prepared and expanding communication with all involved.

Further challenges arise this year from within our own department. Art Support Services is interfacing with an evolved Art department for 2005. With a lot of new interest from volunteers and new challenges to face regarding art on the playa, Art Support Services is being redefined to more closely integrate with The Artery. Planning must identify how these two facets of the Art department can streamline and coordinate services in support of the artists and participants of Burning Man.

We look forward to improving how we provide a service to our community in Black Rock City by supporting the artists and participants who populate it!

Submitted by,
Roger Ripps