Support Services

2007 was a great year for all things Art Support. Defining the role of Art Support, as distinguished from Support Services or Art Support Services turned out to be more challenging than anticipated. We are often defined by what we spend our time doing, and due to the variety and extent of what we do each year, we are often being redefined!

Two main areas of distinction were apparent in 2007:

First, the Heavy Machinery team found a fantastic new Dispatcher, added and cross-trained more crew members and increased the number and variety of machines and equipment to work with. The result was more than double the number of support hours logged, and an incredible increase in overall service quality and timeliness. Thanks to all the Heavy Machinery crews for their amazing dedication and efforts!

Second, the smaller team of 5 people who previously performed roles as support team for the Art Support Coordinator was given direct responsibility for acting as liaisons. The team members acted more independently and were able to test their mettle in helping artist support issues to be resolved more smoothly. The primary reason for making this change was to engage team members more directly to step up and replace or relieve the Art Support as necessary- everyone needs down time at Burning Man.

A major 2007 Art Support activity was to create greater individual autonomy and leadership capacity, while improving the level and quality of collaboration between the infrastructure teams and the artists and citizens of Black Rock City.

Past Challenges

Nobody drives a forklift like she does.

Nobody drives a forklift like she does.

The Heavy Machinery team was more efficient in their assignation of personnel to equipment, and in their utilization of equipment . Roughly half of the overall use of the Heavy Machinery is pre-designated for building the major structures of the Black Rock City infrastructure. The remaining jobs that occur are in response to needs of the artists and citizenry of Black Rock City. Creating a professional team in an environment of semi-controlled chaos is an ongoing challenge.

The Art Support liaison team applied themselves to facilitating the individual needs of art projects and artists. As the number of art projects has grown each year, the team has stretched to adapt. Centralizing the communication responsibilities with the Art Support Coordinator became too unwieldy for one person to manage. The role of the Art Support Coordinator is difficult to define and convey to other would-be coordinators.; Decentralizing the communication responsibilities allowed others to step up into some specific coordination roles and discover what the role entails. Moving forward, we will discover how to improve the liaison capacities of the Art Support Coordination team while improving the quality of communications and the access to support.

Future Challenges

Giving attention to greater autonomy, radical collaboration, and improvements in the flow of information will characterize the next challenges of the Art Support liaison team. The growth of Black Rock City provides a fertile environment for practicing these skills and refining these processes. Having a core team that returns year-to-year helps others to be able to step in without the previous years of experience and be able to perform well.

Heavy Machinery became a powerfully functional group this year. Building team skills, refining the choices of equipment, and improving the flow of incoming requests for machinery require focused efforts from several departments, including DPW, Placement, ARTery, and Heavy Machinery. Attention will be given to create better communication and understanding between these departments for 2008.

2007 was an exciting year to be involved with the growth of Black Rock City. Much is changing, but the underlying semi-chaotic nature of the event remains intact.  What a great challenge! We look forward to making it happen again!

Submitted by:
Roger Ripps