Burning Man Arts offered several avenues for artists to help craft the process of bringing art to Black Rock City for the 2015 event and beyond. We hosted three Artist Forums with the goal of soliciting ideas, process brainstorming and gathering feedback from artists about grants, contracts, on-playa services, and other issues important to the artist community. This was in addition to an all-day Artists’ Symposium with co-learning and networking opportunities for artists, as well as consultation with Burning Man staff across several departments.
We implemented several changes in 2015 based on the outcomes of these forums, and are looking forward to even more positive growth in 2016 and beyond as we continue to collaborate with artists.
In 2015, we finally broke the $1 million mark for our Black Rock City grant program, and gifted approximately $1.2 million in monetary support to more than 100 art projects. This is in addition to other non-financial support offered to honoraria and self-funded artists. Our artists range from first-time attendees to long-time participants, from local to internationally-based, with a well balanced gender ratio.
In addition to providing funding for our grantees, Burning Man Arts has several teams within the ARTery whose mission involves artist assistance and advice. The Art Support Services team provides technical and logistical support to all art projects installed in Black Rock City. Art Support Services supports honorarium and self-funded art projects by consulting on project timelines, engineering requirements, heavy machinery, and handling on-playa service requests. In 2015, Art Support Services documented 1,139 service requests made by art projects on playa, which is approximately a 50% increase from the 2014 event.
2015 saw 326 art pieces installed on playa, including more than 75 fire art projects, all of which were advised and vetted by the Fire Art Safety Team. Speaking of fire, a record 20,020 gallons of propane were dispensed during the Burning Man event in 2015. Of that, 17,673 gallons were used for fire art including Mutant Vehicles, theme camp flame effects, and placed art projects. (The remaining 2,347 gallons were used for infrastructure, utilities, and cooking.)
This year’s Man was 60-feet tall and similar to the new design debuted in 2014, but crafted to burn faster than 2014’s 105’ tall (long-burnin’) version. The Man stood on 10’ stilts and was surrounded by a funhouse maze filled with art, where participants could venture in search of the Man’s courtyard. A mezzanine overlooking the maze provided a venue to shout directions (correct or otherwise) to other participants navigating the maze.
Surrounding the Man were several circus-style tents, forming a Carnival Midway that housed a panoply of strange and enchanting wonders. The Midway featured 33 projects created by Regional groups and artists collectives from 16 countries around the world, and offered interactive and playful experiences to participants. Artists and builders created unorthodox carnival attractions and interactive experiences, including two performance art stages.
Art of Black Rock City
In addition to the Honoraria art, Burning Man welcomes an even larger number of self-funded art. Artists from all over the world contributed to the Carnival of Mirrors by bringing approximately 210 creative, interactive, self-funded projects. Whether funded by crowd-sourcing or directly out of the artists’ pockets, the amount of hard work and creativity that goes into the self-funded art at Burning Man is top-notch. Once the event started, we had 56 “walk-in” projects registered on site. Many of these projects are placed in deep- and outer-playa and serve as beacons of interest to draw participants into the farther reaches of the event.
Burning Man prides itself on being a welcoming and non-curatorial environment that encourages participation by anyone with the desire to bring art to Black Rock City.