Black Rock Arts Foundation

Year-round, the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) works hard to ensure that art and community-building continue to serve as tools for civic engagement around the globe. We know that art can build community and bring people together, and we believe that all communities, beyond Black Rock City, deserve art. More than ever, we are encouraged by our recent successes and invigorated to expand our programs and extend our reach into more communities worldwide.

Through our three major programs – Grants to Artists, Civic Arts and ScrapEden –

*        Our Grants to Artists program received a record number of applications – over 300 – and we awarded more grant money than ever before – providing more than $50,000 to 12 projects. Many past grantees, such as 2007 Grantee, Global Lives, and 2009 Grantee, Cardboardia, continue to flourish and receive acclaim for their projects, and cite BRAF’s early seed funding as a catalyst for their growth.

*        Our Civic Arts program made a real difference in the communities of Reno, Nevada, and San Francisco, California, thanks to highly successful partnerships with government agencies, community members, and key donors. In Reno, we installed Duel Nature, which graced the waterfront of the Truckee River in downtown Reno from May to December this year. In San Francisco, we helped to install Ecstasyin Patricia’s Green and the Raygun Gothic Rocketshipon the Embarcadero. We also served as fiscal sponsor for the refurbishment of Defenestration, a landmark of public art in San Francisco.

*        Our ongoing ScrapEden program, a partership with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, produced The Composting Contraption, a human-powered, interactive, kinetic artwork designed to inspire, motivate and educate San Francisco residents to increase the practice of composting at home, and to take better advantage of the City’s green bin organics collection program. This whimsical spectacle continues to tour and delight crowds at street fairs, public events and farmer’s markets.

More details on all of these projects can be found on and on our blog at

We are continually grateful for the extraordinary support and investment of our community. BRAF supporters share our vision of bringing people together and creating positive change through art. Because of your support, BRAF continues to pioneer new modalities of public art.

BRAF has made great progress in bringing the Burning Man ethos of art, interaction, and community “to the rest of the world, the other 51 weeks of the year.” But, we need your help to continue to fund, support and enable community-building, civic-minded, interactive arts projects and expand our reach to new regions.

There are many ways you can donate to BRAF. Direct donations can be most easily made from our secure website. You can also donate to BRAF when you purchase your Burning Man ticket– just check the box and add an amount to your ticket price.

On Playa

Each year, the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) returns to our source of inspiration, to that city where interactive art is everywhere you look: Black Rock City. We eagerly look forward to our stay on the playa as an opportunity to connect with our supporters, to inspire others to instigate interactive artworks in their hometown and to educate people about our mission and our projects.

Our primary function on the playa is to educate the public about what BRAF does, and to clarify the distinction between our funding and Burning Man’s funding. BRAF funds off-playa projects, all year long.

Once again, the outreach groups of Burning Man (Burners Without Borders, The Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar and The Regional Network) teamed up to create a unified presence on the playa: District Everywhere!

District Everywhere is housed under one large pavilion (which might look familiar… it’s one of the pavilions that surrounded the Man in 2007 and 2008!) Being the arts organization in the house, BRAF took the lead on redesigning the interior space of District Everywhere, creating a design that we’ll continue to use in years to come. The interior space of District Everywhere took on the appearance of a large world map, with continents cut out of wood, set up at table height. BRAF scheduled a team of volunteers, our ‘World Domination Team,’ who assisted guests in creating miniature flags to be placed on the world map to represent their off-playa projects and endeavors. By the end of the week the map was jam-packed with flags!

Together, the outreach groups hosted interactive activities, art projects, events, and gatherings, and debuted our ‘Burnside Chats,’ a series of lectures, salons and discussions about art, community and culture off the playa. All of these activities are geared toward kindling ideas and generating momentum for off-playa, after-Burning Man outreach efforts. The Black Rock Arts Foundation hosted a Burnside Chat on how to apply for BRAF grant to make off-playa art, and our annual cocktail party for BRAF supporters, artists, Board and Advisory Board members.

For the last two years, BRAF has teamed efforts with the ARTery, our playa neighbors, to provide a gathering space for participants waiting for the ARTery’s daily art tours. The art tours are incredibly popular, drawing a few hundred people each day. BRAF seized the opportunity to capitalize on the rush of art lovers to our neighborhood and used this occasion to educate the waiting tour guests about BRAF’s off-playa work. BRAF’s redesign of the District Everywhere interior space was created with these guests in mind, offering them a shaded area to sit, lemonade to drink, a fun and easy art activity to participate in, and outreach group representatives to chat with as they waited for their tour.

This mutually-beneficial relationship with the ARTery will continue, but several issues require some fine-tuning. BRAF will work with the ARTery to re-examine the art tour ticketing process and the coordination of guests waiting for their tour. BRAF will also reconsider the interior layout of District Everywhere, particularly the seating layout, to accommodate the sudden wave of guests. BRAF is always thinking of new ways to keep guests engaged and entertained, and will add more art activities and participatory experiences whenever possible.

Our new Burnside Chats were moderately successful. The content of the events was rich in diversity, expertise and intellectual value, but the attendance to these new events was low. With such promising content, the outreach team is very motivated to increase promotion of these events and perhaps move them to the Center Camp Café, where they could accommodate and draw a larger crowd of visitors.

BRAF enjoys our stay on the playa and creates and strengthens many meaningful connections with supporters of public art.

Submitted by,
Josie Schimke