2016 Guild Workshops

As part of the interactive experience around the base of this year’s Man, we will invite self-styled “guilds” of artists, makers, tinkerers, and craftspeople to operate workshops for the delight and edification of the citizens of Black Rock City. Within this fanciful piazza, Burning Man seeks to allocate Guild Workshop spaces to willing and able Regional Network teams, artist collectives, maker confederacies, and various self-organized combinations thereof. There may be multiple guilds in the same trades, large or small, coming from many different cities around the world, and people with common trades can join together to create a guild.

Man Base and Guild Workshops Layout, 2016
Man Base and Guild Workshops Layout, 2016

2016’s event theme is Da Vinci’s Workshop, and the vision for our piazza is a series of bustling enclosures in which participants can select a new skill to learn, tool to operate, material to play with, contraption to design or some other hands-on learning experience — and perhaps even to depart with the fruits of their labor to keep as a memento, or offer as a gift to others.

The theme leads us to think of the traditional guild crafts and trades of the Renaissance such as leather-work, blacksmithing, brick-making, and weaving, but feel free to propose more modern trades updated for a Black Rock City sensibility. There is a preference for re-purposed and up-cycled material to be used whenever possible.

Within these spaces, groups can dream up, design, and create a workshop within a provided, shaded structure in which participants can roll up their sleeves and get to work in the act of creating something. The over-arching goal is for the workshops to be a place where participants actually make something. The act of turning exertion into a physical thing by way of tools and material manipulation is a thing of beauty. While we primarily envision physical creation, we are open to ethereal, surreal, and absurdist guild activities and products.

Whether your art collective or Regional team chooses to join forces with a local maker space, or your maker group opts to team up with a Burning Man Regional group, we trust that you will collaboratively fashion a unique name that doesn’t directly promote existing, commercial entities but rather identifies your playa-based Guild endeavor.

For inspiration regarding the theme of Burning Man 2016 “Da Vinci’s Workshop” and also “Da Vinci’s Workshop: The Piazza”.

Physical constraints:

The structures themselves will be designed to fit within our “Italian High Renaissance” Piazza. There will be two sizes of Guild Workshops. The larger of the two will be roughly 30’ deep by 40’ wide (9.144 x 12.192 meters) with a pitched ceiling from 10’ in the rear to 17’ (3.048 – 5.182 meters) at the front. The smaller spaces, which could be combined up to a maximum of three (in a row), should your idea fit that space better, will be roughly 20’ x 20’ (6.096 x 6.096 meters) with a flat roof at 10’ (3.048 meters). We anticipate a shaded roof and half-walls around the exterior and dividing lines of the spaces. The “front entrance” of the space will be open to the piazza. (see image at top of page)

We will provide you with very specific dimensions of your space and footprint after the selection process and before you get into deep details of your design. The above-noted sizes are probably very close to actual.

In the tradition of promoting one’s trade, each guild will be expected to provide a Guild Emblem to be hung from each workshop to proudly proclaim to all who you are and what you do. The emblem will fit within a specific-sized frame that will be provided for you. You and your team will design and fabricate the emblem to reflect your guild and bring it with you to the playa. Once there, we will provide you with a place to hang it like this:

Mounting for larger (30” round) emblem
Mounting for larger (30” round) emblem
Mounting for smaller (15” round) emblem
Mounting for smaller (15” round) emblem

Lighting & Electrical:

We intend to provide lighting sufficient to illuminate the space for safe occupancy, but you should plan to provide task lighting for participants appropriate to whatever task you dream up. As you design your lighting, please consider the use of low-draw LEDs whenever possible. Additionally, please plan to direct all of your lighting so that it’s internal to your space and does not conflict with the lighting plans of other groups.

We anticipate you’ll need power for your workshop. Please tell us about the draw you require and any special start up draw you might experience from time to time. Balancing the power grid will be an important aspect of how placement is determined within the Piazza. Thank you in advance for putting some thought into this during the proposal stage. We understand you won’t have everything ironed out at this point, but a general sense of your needs will help us serve everyone better.

Other stuff that might be useful to know:

  • Funding – Grants for similar spaces have historically been in the hundreds of dollars. In anticipation that some projects may require more consumable materials than in previous years, increased grant funds have been made available for those projects with larger than average material needs. Grants over $5,000 for these spaces will be rare. In many cases, past artist groups have created fundraising campaigns to fund costs over the grant amount.

Pre-/post-event, on-site set-up and strike:

  • You will be responsible for transportation of your workshop to and from the playa.
  • You will be allowed to bring a box truck, or other up to 24’ long into the space so you can load / unload.
  • The site will be an active construction site when you arrive. You must have appropriate clothing, footwear, gloves, eye and ear protection, etc. for each member of your team if you plan on using power tools, either during setup, or as part of your regular activities.
  • The Burning Man build crew generally works on site from 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday – Saturday. During these hours you will usually find support and the project manager on site to deal with issues. You may be allowed or asked to work off hours, depending on what else is going on with the build schedule. Night time work is required during the neon installation on the Man and it takes precedence over night time work in the Guild Workshops.
  • No material can be left in the workshop space after you strike it. A MOOP inspection and check-out will be required with the Guild Workshop project manager prior to completion of strike activities.

During the Event:

  • Staffing – These spaces are highly interactive. In an effort to ensure your group gets time away from your guild to enjoy the rest of Burning Man, please consider a DIY aspect of your workshop. Another idea in service to having the spaces active as much as possible might be to coordinate time slots when your guild is staffed by artists and makers working in similar materials or methods. The proposal form will ask for more info about the hours you plan to staff your workshop and what interactive elements will be available when it isn’t staffed by your crew.
  • Close – The exact time the Guild Workshops will close this year is still TBD. Last year the Midway booths closed Friday afternoon. We hope to keep the spaces open later into Friday night this year, but this is still a little unclear. We’ll keep you posted and coordinate this if your proposal is selected.

Contracts and Plans

The selected proposals will be contracted and coordinated by Burning Man’s Guild Workshop project manager. The selected teams or artists will need to participate in pre-installation logistics meetings and planning sessions and to provide drawings, sketches and specifications to our team as needed. We understand that the proposed project may morph during the finalization of the design and build plan and we look forward to working with you on this iterative process. If your plans change significantly from what you propose we’ll need to work with you to review and approve the changes.

Project Timeline

Our city gates and the Man Piazza open on Sunday August 28, 2016. Your workshop must be fully installed and your construction debris removed from the site no later than dawn on Sunday August 28. You will be granted site access several days ahead of that deadline. Please include in your proposal your timeline for installation.

“Strike” happens on the early morning of (probably) Saturday September 3. This is a very tightly scheduled de-installation period of time in preparation for burning the Man! Your team must be available during this time to strike your space.

Evaluation and Award Process

The team that will review your submission will include Burning Man co-founder Larry Harvey and other creative types in the Art Department along with members of the Guild Workshop team.

The creative team will evaluate proposals based on adherence to the theme, interactivity and budget. The Guild operations team will weigh in on feasibility.

Submission Details

We stopped accepting submissions for 2016 on March 1st.

Check back with us in 2017!