This grant program is closed for the 2022 Burning Man event.
Every year Burning Man Arts issues a small number of grants for the purpose of partially funding artworks for installation on the open playa at the Burning Man event in Black Rock City. We look for work that stands on its own as a physical, sculptural installation, independent of performances or activities.
If you’re interested in applying for funding for an art installation bound for the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, you must first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI).
It’s important to know that making artwork for Burning Man is very challenging, due to the difficulties inherent in creating anything in a harsh wilderness setting with unpredictable weather, high winds, and lots of playa dust. You’re definitely going to want to know what you’re getting into (and for this reason, we recommend that you attend Burning Man once before applying for funding). Read up on what it takes to attend, and make art for Burning Man here:
Being a Black Rock City Honorarium artist requires a significant time investment, including several mandatory meetings and the ability to adhere to firm deadlines. Please thoroughly read What to Expect before submitting a Letter of Intent.
General Grant Program FAQs
- What is the process for applying for a grant?The first step is to submit a Letter of Intent. For the 2022 grant cycle, the LOI opens on October 14, 2021 and submissions are due on November 16, 2021 at 5pm Pacific Time. LOI notifications will be sent on December 16, 2021 and selected applicants will have until January 19, 2022 to submit a full proposal. Late submissions, or submissions that have not gone through the LOI process, will not be considered. We will only review one version of a proposal, so make sure it’s your final version. If you have more than one concept you’d like us to consider, you are welcome to submit more than one LOI, and then potentially submit more than one art grant proposal if your LOIs are accepted.
- What are your criteria for awarding grants?Our selection criteria include:
- Interactivity with participants and the environment. Interactive art transforms participants into active contributors to the creative process. A truly interactive piece is completed by participants’ engagement with it. Interaction may be achieved in a variety of ways. The artwork can be activated by people or nature, physically entered, can impart a gift or receive a gift, can act as a social environment or an environment for play. Be prepared for unexpected forms of interaction with your artwork. Occasionally, just encountering an artwork can be interactive if it’s spread out over a field of space to be explored. Some art objects are amazing enough on their own just to be perceived, but we’ve found that almost any artwork can incorporate an interactive aspect with some planning and creativity.
- Visual appeal. We value visual impact and beauty. The installation must be an artwork in and of itself. If you are proposing to install an interactive concept or activity that will be housed within a larger structure, the structure itself must be visually appealing as well.
- The impact of your art. We want as many participants to see and enjoy your art as possible. This does not mean we only fund large art–in fact, we seek to fund a wide range of scale, complexity, and creative expression. We encourage low-tech solutions and we delight in simple but clever concepts. And, we select installations that can have a large impact. We prefer to fund installations that allow more than a few people at a time to interact, ideally during both day and night.
- Diversity and sustainability. Burning Man Project cares deeply about Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (R.I.D.E.) and environmental sustainability. We are interested in supporting projects and teams that reflect these values.
- The thoroughness of your proposal. We will not consider incomplete proposals. If you don’t submit detailed information, for example a thorough budget or descriptive images, it is difficult for the grant committee to fully understand or evaluate your project.
- Who is eligible to apply to the grant program?
- Individuals, artist collectives or groups, and established 501(c)(3) organizations are all eligible and welcome to apply.
- We fund art installations from artists across the globe; there are no geographic restrictions on who can apply.
- If you’ve applied for or received a Burning Man (or BRAF) grant previously, you may apply again.
- We recommend that you attend Burning Man at least once before applying, but it’s not required; we do fund some artists who have not yet been to Black Rock City.
- What kind of art do you fund?The following types of art are eligible for an honorarium grant:
- Sculptural 3D artwork
- Art related to the theme, and art not related to the theme
- Mobile art (sculptures that move and do not act as a mutant vehicle)
- What kind of art does not get funded?The following will not receive an honorarium art grant:
- Performances, activities or workshops
- DJs and amplified sound
- Domes, tents, teepees, stages or prefabricated commercial structures
- Artwork containing beds or other sleeping spaces
- Mutant bikes
- Mutant vehicles
- Theme camps, or art installations placed in theme camps
- Anything illegal in the state of Nevada or prohibited by federal law. While Burning Man is a private event, we are still governed by the laws of the state of Nevada and the event takes place on federal land.
- How many grants are awarded?Approximately 70 projects per year receive an honorarium. Note that Burning Man does not have an art endowment, so nearly all of the art you will witness at Burning Man is entirely paid for by participants themselves. Most proposals submitted to us will not receive funding.
- I’d love to have my installation in my camp and get an honorarium for it. Is that possible?
No. We fund art that is placed on the open playa, so as many citizens of Black Rock City as possible can enjoy it.
- Who reviews Honoraria applications?We have an art grant committee that has a long history of being involved with Burning Man’s annual grant cycles and award processes. This committee has extensive personal experience in creating and managing art on playa. For 2022 we look forward to diversifying our committee membership to better reflect Burning Man Project’s commitment to Radical Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity (R.I.D.E.).
- If I don’t submit an LOI, is there any other opportunity for me to receive funding for my BRC art?No. You must submit an LOI by the deadline to be considered for funding.
- Does my art installation have a better chance of being funded if it's related to the theme?No. We welcome proposals for art installations that are related to the theme or not related to the theme. If your concept isn’t related to the theme, please don’t stretch to find a way to connect it to the theme.
- Where can I find a full list of the questions on the LOI and full proposal, to understand what’s required in the application?Please visit How to Submit an LOI to find a link to the preview of the questions on the Letter of Intent. A preview of the full proposal is available as well.
- If I am invited to submit a full proposal, how likely is it that I'll be funded?This is difficult to define. Historically Burning Man has received about 700+ Letters of Intent and has funded about 70 projects per year, so approximately 10% of submissions are selected to receive funding.
Grant Program Timing FAQs
- When may I apply for a grant?
- When will I know if I’ve been awarded a grant?If you have submitted an LOI and are invited to submit a full proposal and then submit the full proposal, we will notify you by early March. If you are awarded an honorarium, we’ll ask that you not share the news widely until we release a public announcement several days later.
- Why does Burning Man Arts use an LOI process?Submitting a full grant proposal can be time consuming. The LOI is a much shorter application, which will save everyone time and effort. Before instituting the LOI process, we would receive applications each year that didn’t match our stated criteria. With the LOI process, if your proposed installation isn’t a good fit for the program you won’t have spent the time on a full proposal.
- When is the deadline to submit an LOI?The last day you may submit an LOI is November 16, 2021 at 5:00pm Pacific Time. We strongly recommend submitting before the day of the deadline. If you have technical issues submitting on the day of the deadline, we may not be able to assist you and we aren’t able to make exceptions to the deadline. Note that late LOIs are not accepted.
- May I submit more than one Letter of Intent (LOI)?Yes! Our application system allows you to submit multiple LOIs if you have more than one project you are interested in proposing.
- Do I need to have a Burner Profile to submit an LOI?Yes. Our art grant application portal is accessed through Burner Profiles. If you don’t already have a Burner Profile, from the landing page please click “Login” and you’ll be brought to an option to register for a new account. Please note that we cannot accept grant applications via email; you must first submit an LOI via Burner Profiles and, if accepted, then submit your grant application via the link in your LOI acceptance email.
- Will I have a chance to include images with my LOI?Yes! In fact, we require you to submit at least one image which can be a drawing, sketch, photo, etc. You may also submit a video in addition to an image. Your images can be as simple or complex as you need them to be; the goal is to help the Grant Committee fully understand your proposed concept. If you have a maquette, please submit a photo of it. We only accept physical maquettes at the full proposal stage, and even then we recommend submitting a photo or video of it.
- Can I start the LOI application and then come back to it later?Yes. Once you log into your Burner Profile and start an application, after filling out the preliminary info about your project you will have an opportunity to Save & Continue. You’ll get an email with a unique link that will bring you back to your LOI where you left off so you can come back to your draft application anytime before the deadline to continue working on it. Note that incomplete or draft applications will not be accepted; you must submit the application for it to be considered complete.
- By submitting an LOI, am I obligated to create a full proposal if invited?No. We understand that circumstances change, and you are certainly allowed to withdraw your LOI or decline the invitation to submit a full proposal.
- What percentage of LOIs will be invited to submit a full proposal?In the 2020 grant cycle we received 743 LOIs and 355 completed a full proposal. We aren’t aiming for a certain percentage; our goal is to be able to support artists as best as possible while funding a full range and collection of interactive, engaging artworks.
- What can I expect if my LOI is accepted and I'm invited to submit a full proposal?Once you are notified on December 16, 2021 you will receive access to the online application form. The deadline for full proposals will be on January 19, 2022 at 5:00pm Pacific Time.
To learn more about the process if you submit a full proposal and your art installation is accepted as an Honorarium, check out What to Expect.
- If I receive an honorarium, how much will I receive?This varies with particular projects. However, grants normally pay for only a portion of production costs. Artists should be ready to seek out and show proof of other methods and sources of funding. As a matter of policy, we also prefer that you develop various kinds of non-monetary or in-kind resources to help support your project. We believe that such an effort on your part encourages collaboration and cooperation within our extended community.
- How much money should I ask for?Our annual budget for art on playa, including the Temple Grant, is $1.3 million. We typically fund approximately 70 honoraria art projects. Grants over $20,000 are rare. Due to the number of proposals we receive we are not able to negotiate potential changes for each application.
The full proposal form includes a link to a Budget Template which will help you articulate and calculate all the possible costs of creating your project, as well as provide you with a clear understanding of which expenses are eligible for Honoraria funding.
We strongly recommend that you request partial funding, since Burning Man typically funds 40-60% of the total budget. You’ll have an opportunity on the application to specify the amount. For example: tell us that your project will cost $40K and that you’re asking us for $20K, and that you’ll fundraise the balance. Another option is to provide budget tiers on the full proposal, for example, a small, medium, and large version of your project at corresponding prices. Please be clear what each tier would include.
- What expenses are eligible for funding?The Budget Template we provide explicitly lists which expense categories are eligible and ineligible. For quick reference, here are some general expense categories and their eligibility:
- Materials and supplies, including tools, consumables, hardware, fuel, and Leave No Trace supplies
- Transportation of your art installation to and from the playa
- Speciality services such as welding, laser cutting, etc.
- Build space rental
- Burning Man tickets
- Artist and crew flights/transportation
- Crew food
- Camp supplies
- Artist fees
- Ground anchors (we provide these, but you are required to provide hardware and cabling to secure your piece to the ground anchors for stability)
- Post-event expenses such as storage
- Legal expenses such as LLC formation or insurance
- My project is easily scalable. I'm not sure what level of funding to request. How should I proceed?Please estimate the amount it would take for you to realize your vision. If your project is scalable, you’ll have an opportunity to describe various levels of funding using the tier options in the full grant proposal.
- Should I include the cost of event tickets in my proposal?If awarded a grant, we will provide tickets for you and your core crew to attend the event. We’ll work closely with you to identify how many are needed. There is no need for you to include ticket costs in your proposal.
- What about including the cost of fuel for my flame effects and generators?It’s very important that you include the estimated cost for fuel for any flame effects or generators used as a part of your installation. The estimated number of gallons for these items should be part of your budget. Please use cost estimates for fuel that relate to rates normally experienced in the time of year that Burning Man occurs — for instance, the cost of gasoline typically increases in the month of August.
*Note that there is NOT a power grid available for honoraria artists to use; you must supply your own power source.
- Can the expected budget change if/when we submit a full proposal?We know concepts and budgets can evolve from inception to actual grant proposal, so we understand if there is a small change in funding request from the LOI to the full proposal, however significant budget changes are not acceptable. You will be asked to provide a detailed budget in the full art grant application and we have an optional budget template that can help you fully articulate your expenses.
- When and how will I receive money?This will vary slightly from project to project, based on when each artist submits certain deliverables. You will be asked to sign a contract prior to receiving any funding. In general, artists receive an initial payment of 55% of the total award within 2 weeks of signing the contract, and a second payment of 30% of the grant 30 days after the first payment. We withhold a performance deposit (typically 15%) until after the event to ensure that you comply with Leave No Trace and to serve as a credit account to cover the cost of certain resources you may purchase on playa such as water or fuel. Note that the funds you receive for your honorarium are taxable and require a 1099 tax form that we will provide to you.
- Who is responsible for keeping my installation safe?Burning Man Project believes strongly in Radical Self-reliance; it’s one of our 10 Principles. Ensuring your artwork does not physically harm anyone is a key responsibility of the artist. Rangers are on playa to help participants, not guard art, so it’s important that the artist creates safeguards for maintaining their art.
- I want to burn my art piece at Burning Man. That’s guaranteed, right?We know it’s Burning Man, but it is not guaranteed that you can burn your artwork at the event. There are a limited number of slots for Level 1 Open Fire (sculptures burned in place on playa) burn events, due to the environmental implications and the resources needed to manage each burn.
If you are interested in burning your project, on the full proposal you can indicate that and share your alternate plans if you don’t burn the piece, including your plans for disassembly and removal from the playa post-event.
- Do I need to buy insurance for my art installation on playa?Burning Man Project does not require insurance. However, some artists have sought to obtain insurance to cover their work on playa. We do not yet have any information about what might be available for the upcoming event cycle and we will notify you if we become aware of relevant opportunities.
Note that this is different from obtaining insurance to cover your volunteers and/or build space pre-playa; please consult with your insurance agent or broker regarding these types of policies.
- Does Burning Man provide heavy machinery I can use?Although we prefer that you remain completely self-sufficient, our Art Support Services team can assist you with heavy equipment if needed. We work closely with artists to identify what equipment works best and what’s available.
- Should I take pictures of my artwork?Yes! You will need to submit at least one final image of your work on playa. At the event, hundreds of photographers, amateur and professional, may also photograph your work. These appear in our Image Gallery and in the art listings on our website. Burning Man is also covered by an international array of media. Burning Man Arts and the staff at Media Mecca help connect these journalists with artists.
- Can I do art sales on playa?Black Rock City is a fertile meeting ground for artists and patrons of the arts. Although vending is strictly disallowed at the event, artists at Burning Man are free to encounter potential clients for their work in an environment free of agents, dealers or any of the other professional intermediaries who normally interpose themselves in the creative process. Burning Man is a radically unmediated environment and can yield unique opportunities.
- How does my art get placed on playa? How do I find my location?We work with artists to identify where ideally their art installation should be placed on the open playa. We strive to support the artist’s goals and place their artwork where it best serves their artistic vision, while also taking into consideration the landscape and the full experience of participants. Ultimately placement is at the discretion of the Art Department. Once you arrive on playa, our volunteer staff will let you know your placement and take you to its assigned location.
- What other benefits or help can I receive from Burning Man?Aside from the essential spiritual satisfaction gained from creating your work, as well as showing it and sharing it with tens of thousands of very enthusiastic people, Burning Man can also furnish you with other opportunities. We are willing to provide you with support materials if you wish to approach outside agencies or suppliers for assistance. Installations, funded or not, will be featured on our website and other social media and in our Black Rock City gate handout, the WhatWhereWhen guide. And when you receive an Honorarium, you join a thriving community of artists who share resources, guidance, and advice.
- What kind of contract with Burning Man Project will I need to sign if my art installation is funded?
- I have a technical question or problem with the form. Can you help me?Please use the Contact Us function in Burner Profiles, and select “Art Grant Application Support” from the drop-down menu.
If you’re experiencing an error, it’s helpful to let us know what browser (Safari, Chrome, etc.) and operating system (Mac, Windows) you are using.
Please note that the Burning Man office will be closed from December 24 through January 1 and we may be unable to respond to inquiries at that time.
- Who do I contact with further questions?After fully reading the FAQs and other art materials on this website, you can send any other questions to email@example.com. Please note that the Burning Man office will be closed from December 24 through January 1 and we are unable to respond to inquiries during that time.
If you are interested in applying for a grant, please see our Letter of Intent submission guidelines.