2008 was a particularly smooth year for Art Support, since there were slightly fewer art installations that required support, while the Art Support Department was much more organized than in the past. And as the DPW’s Heavy Machinery crews and Art Support volunteers performed their roles well, the artists were supported well. Even in the face of the additional challenges the playa conditions presented in 2008, all the staff and volunteers were highly effective.
Continuing with the management theme established in 2007, all of the Art Support team members were tasked with collaborating with each other to create their own schedule and showing flexibility about taking on the various tasks that presented themselves as the event unfolded.
This allowed the Art Support Coordinator to almost totally delegate authority and responsibility to the members of the team, thus encouraging old and new volunteers to step up and play at a new level. The team more directly took ownership of the support tasks through the Artery and the event infrastructure. This form of autonomy worked well overall, but some tweaks to the approach and process will be necessary for 2009.
There has always been a challenge in tracking the man-hours and equipment usage at the event. In 2008, the Heavy Machinery team managed to pull together all the required tracking information in real time. This allowed for a relatively easy completion of the accounting for finalizing the financial aspects of the art contracts.
Many tasks that were assigned to the Art Support team in years past were handed to other teams in 2008. Fire perimeters were made the responsibility of the Fire Safety team. Man base support remained almost solely in the hands of the Man Base team and the Heavy Machinery crews. This left the Art Support team available to handle more of the varied and somewhat random requests from artists that happen each year. In general, the artists reported that they got the support that they requested when they needed it.
Our challenges remain the same as in previous years. With any new increase in the overall number of art projects on the playa, there is an exponential increase in the amount of work required to accomplish all that is asked of us. As the event continues to grow, adding and retaining interested volunteers will always be a challenge.
The relationship between the Heavy Machinery team and the Art Support team will always need to be refined in order to continue to provide a seamless and timely response to artists’ needs. While these teams have done very well to cover the needs for the art that has been built on the playa thus far, it’s critical to be vigilant in managing the likely increases in years to come.
2008 was again an exciting year to be involved with the creation of Black Rock City. The 2009 art theme promises to provide a fruitful new batch of art and artists to help. We are all looking forward to helping artists to realize their dreams of creating artwork for the playa!