A New Online Art Grant System Is Live


image: Jim Bauer/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A new online system for Art Grants has quietly gone live. It’s buried deep in the blackrockarts site. The deadline is December 1 and you have to pay a fee to submit your Letter of Intent. It’s a little confusing – although it is called “Burning Man Grants for Art”, it’s only for art projects that aren’t going to Burning Man.

For Playa art, they provide a link to Burning Man’s web site, which says the deadline is Feb 15. This information conflicts with the last JRS, which said:

Burning Man Arts — the new department combining the Black Rock City Art Department with the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) — will launch a new online system in mid-November designed to make it easier for artists to apply for honoraria grants for art destined for Black Rock City.

This year, applicants will be required to first submit a Letter of Intent (LOI), which will allow the Grant Committee to select which projects will be invited to participate in the full grant application process, saving everybody time and effort.

The system will go live in mid-November, and LOI submissions will be accepted for four weeks. The Grant Committee aims to inform artists if they are invited to participate in the full grant application process by the beginning of 2015.

All artists hoping to receive a Black Rock City honorarium will need to participate in this new LOI process.

More information will be made available via the Jackrabbit Speaks and on the Burning Man Arts web pages as the rollout approaches.

Reading between the lines, I figure that both the blackrockarts.org and burningman.com sites have incorrect information, and artists who want an Honorarium Art Grant for a project at Burning Man 2015 should treat the Jackrabbit’s information as the most current – and wait for an announcement of the new system.

The other new online system that Black Rock Arts announced in their October newsletter, is for non-Playa art:

Burning Man Grants for Art (formerly the BRAF Grants to Artists program) 2015 grant cycle is underway!  The online form for submitting a Letter of Intent (LOI) is now live. Tell us about your fantastic idea for a community-driven, interactive art project!

We fund projects that incorporate community involvement and exist for public benefit. If you’re hatching an idea for a project that brings people together, prompts interaction, and reaches beyond traditional experiences of public art, we’d love to hear about it!

The deadline for “Burning Man Grants for Art” – which, to be clear, is actually for art that is NOT for Burning Man – is December 1 2014, so artists who want to be considered for that need to pay the fees and get their submissions in, in the next 11 days. They fund 10 to 15 projects a year, between $500 and $10,000, with grants typically being in the range of $2000 – $6000.

From blackrockarts.org:

We have begun accepting Letters of Inquiry (LOI’s) for our 2014-2015 grant cycle. Read on to find a link to the LOI submission form. The deadline to submit an LOI is December 1, 2014. Late LOI’s will not be accepted, with no exceptions.

Full proposals will be accepted by invitation only, with LOI applicants either invited to submit a proposal or rejected by early January 2015 (exact date TBD).

We prioritize funding highly interactive, community-driven, collaborative works of art that are accessible to the public and civic in scope.

What is ‘interactive’ art?

  • Art that requires human interaction to complete the piece.
  • Art that involves the community and the audience in its creation, presentation and display.
  • Art that prompts the viewer to act.
  • Art that can be experienced in more ways than visually. We are fans of art that is can be approached, touched, heard or experienced, as well as viewed.
  • Art that prompts people to interact with one another.
  • Art that responds to participants and to its environment.
  • Art that causes people to reflect on the larger community.
  • Art that challenges the viewers’ traditional perspective on art.
  • Art that belongs to the public and exists for the benefit of all.

What kind of work does this program not fund?

Although we are open to all proposed forms of media, there are some common projects that typically fall outside the scope of our criteria. The exception to all of the examples listed below would be if the project had a highly interactive element that moves the project outside the definitions of its genre.

We typically do not fund:

  • Static work, such as sculpture with no interactive component
  • Gallery work, such as paintings in a gallery
  • Publications – poetry books, photo books, fiction, etc
  • Photography
  • Screenplays or films
  • Musical, theater or dance productions
  • Social aid/relief efforts
  • Entrepreneurial endeavors
  • Art destined for the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City. There is a separate grant process to fund playa-bound artwork. Please visit the Burning Man website to learn more about the BRC Honorarium application process. (This program does, however, sometimes fund works headed to regional Burning Man events)

Our grants range between $500 and $10,000, but we most commonly award between $2000 and $6000. We typically fund approximately from 10 to 15 projects a year and receive as many as 300 proposals.

Full proposals will be accepted by invitation only in early 2015. To be invited, you must submit a Letter of Inquiry by December 1st.


  • Our online LOI application for our 2015 grant cycle is live!
  • LOI’s are due December 1, 2014, 5:00 pm, Pacific Standard Time.
  • Selected applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal by early January, 2015 (exact date TBA).
  • Proposals are accepted by invitation only, and will be due in February, 2015 (exact date TBA)
  • Selected grantees are usually announced March 15 of the year of the award.
  • Funds are usually released to new grantees April 1 of the year of the award.

Late Letters of Inquiry and proposals will not be accepted. No exceptions. Please read our application instructions below for more details on how to apply.

Letter of Inquiry Instructions

Our online Letter of Inquiry will give you the opportunity to provide us with the following:

  • Name of contact person, contact person’s phone number, email address and mailing address
  • Name of the lead artist or program manager if different from the contact person
  • Name of project or program
  • An invitation code, which is “GrantsForArt-LOI-2015
  • Brief description of the physical manifestation of project or program (1500 characters, about 250 words or 1 double-spaced page)
  • Brief description of how the project or program fits the program’s grant criteria and definition of interactivity. (1500 characters, about 250 words or 1 double-spaced page)
  • One to three images or other media files
There is a $5.00 fee to submit your LOI. The entirety of this fee is payment to Slideroom.com, the online application service we use. You will be asked to pay with a credit card upon completion of the LOI. You will need an invitation code to submit the online LOI, which is posted on this page, above. [Code is: “GrantsForArt-LOI-2015″]

Proposal Instructions

Invitations for proposals will be extended to selected projects in late December 2014 or early January 2015. If selected, you will be invited to fill out our full application online. Uninvited proposals will not be considered.

In our online application, you will have the opportunity to tell us about your project, its goals, audience and interactive potential.

A complete proposal includes:

  1. The completion of the online proposal. We do not accept printed and mailed proposals.
  2. A timeline. Our online application has a form where you may describe your timeline, or you may upload your own format. We prefer you use our online form.
  3. A budget. Our online application will have a link to a template you may use, or you may upload your own format. We prefer you use our template.
  4. Supplemental images and materials. You will have the opportunity to upload images or other media files. We highly recommend you submit visual representations of your proposed project.
There is a $5.00 fee to submit a full proposal. The entirety of this fee is payment to Slideroom.com, the online application service we use. You will be asked to pay with a credit card upon completion of the proposal.
image: Carrie Cizauskas/flickr (Creative Commons)

image: Carrie Cizauskas/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Once again, the burden is shifted to the artists, who have to pay to submit a Letter of Intent, and pay again to submit a full proposal. $1500 doesn’t seem like too much for BMOrg to spend on software licensing, to let the 300 artists submitting proposals send them in for free. It’s less than 3 Donation tickets. Sure, it’s only five bucks (twice, if the artist makes it through the first round) – but it’s only five bucks to the corporation raking in $30 million a year, too, and to the non-profit entity with more than $1 million of undistributed assets. It seems a little cheap, for a charity whose sole purpose is supporting the Arts.

We’re still waiting on the announcement of 2015’s theme, which would be helpful to know for artists submitting their ideas for grants.

The 2014 theme was announced on January 8, the 2013 theme was announced on November 30, 2012, and the 2012 theme was announced on this day, November 19, three years ago at the Artumnal Gathering fundraising gala. The 2014 Artumnal will be held this Saturday, perhaps the announcement will come then.

25 comments on “A New Online Art Grant System Is Live

  1. BTW That is 10 individual and unique artworks BTW, not 10 prints. 🙂 I’d love to like Warriormetalsmith’s comment about the fat gallery owners and other organizations abusing artists. However not being signed up to world press… well enough said.

    I really must highlight Warriormetalsmith’s comments however. This is why I gave the art world the big middle finger for almost a decade. Galleries take a commission of sales, they also charge a fee simply for an artist to have their work displayed. So an exhibition often creates a loss for the artist. Fuck that.

  2. I’d rather give my art to friends and family. I’d rather allow a charity to use it to raise money (provided I’m credited as being the creator of said work). My day job as a registered nurse provides me with a comfortable life style.

    Fame? Not interested. I doubt you’d find me or my work with a Google search. A conscious choice on my behalf. All I ask is credit for creating the work. A name without a face is enough. Last “gig” I did was for a mate’s festival, the first year it has occurred, his life long dream. This was just last month. I gave out free prints of a series of works I threw together in the 5 weeks notice I had been given. 10 in total. One you can find one on burner.me instagram, well a section of it at least.

    Think graffiti… your “tag” is known only to a few. Put up a beautiful piece and enhance the urban landscape then your tag credits you with creating the work. Example Nosbe…

    Art is created for the viewer, the audience, those who participate. Not for the ego of the artist. The artist should receive credit for the creation of the artwork whatever it may be. Why? The artist created the work. In isolation the work has no meaning, other than to the artist, however and it is only when the viewer/audience/participant engages with the artwork that it is complete. The art becomes an entity in it’s own right.

    As for this grant proposal it seems a confused mess. Communication is, in essence, art. So where is the communication between the respective elements that make these proposals? Is the art of interpersonal communication lost in this digital age? This age that is meant to make communication a far more simple and efficient affair. The comments made in response to this post also highlight the lack of communication. Mr. Lolloies…. there is a substantial difference between 900,000 and 90,000. One imagines there is a lack of communication between the right and left hemisphere of your brain. Just my observation and thoughts.

    Warriormetalsmith is spot on so no need to repeat what has been expressed so eloquently already. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and opinions. That is all they are and we are all entitled to have and express our own unique viewpoints. Free speech… Be grateful for the gift sot all the people of this world have such a right.

    • You should consider signing your art, or adding your email/web/facebook to digital images as a watermark. That will make it easier for people to identify you as the artist, so they can discover more of your work.

      • I already have come to this conclusion. If you look closely enough at any of my works I incorporate my initials and date multiple times. This is not exactly something the average viewer would even notice. The full work includes the words “Fuck This” as I was having a bad day. No one has ever picked up on it lmao 🙂

        The watermarks… urggh. However they are a necessary evil in the digital age it seems. I retreated from the art world for such a length of time that the digital age had only really begun. Now I utilize digital media for the first time to display my works. 🙂 The image I sent is 2-3 days worth of effort after completing 8.5 hr shifts. So max of 12-14 hours total.

        • I have removed all completed images from my FB profile so I can use a photoshop clone to add watermarks before re-posting. Thank you though for your kind words of support.

  3. Pingback: A Carnival of Smoke and Mirrors | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  4. I am curious, is a Burning Man Project board meeting to occur this weekend, in due of most board members being in the City for the Bentley Reserve event?

    Might this be the meeting where they vote upon whom runs the Burning Man Project, and Burning Man, for 2015? By prior statements, Larry was Executive Director, and Marian was CEO/President for 2014, the people in control of the Project and in control of the cash of the 501(c)3 non profit, in despite of their large conflicts of interest hidden from donors of cash, labour, and art? Might this be the meeting where Jim Tananbaum resigns from the board? Might the Project board do the right thing for the awesome Burner community and act in the manner people expect a 501(c)3, with a licence from the AG of the State of California, to act?

    • They might be staying silent until after the Artumnal, on a variety of fronts. I hope they have a Board meeting and make some real, ethical decisions.

      I highly, highly doubt Tananbaum is going to step down, since he only joined in August.

      • Yes, my brilliant mates, whom assisted towards the BMOrg cash out post, stated this is the part of the year when the big decisions, and the big votes, are to occur for 2015. The Project board must act in an ethical manner, as people believe of a California 501(c)3 non profit must act, in despite of any yelling, and of any screaming, and of any doors being slammed, as occurred within 2009, and within 2010, upon their cash out plan.

        My desire is that Jim Tananbaum is not to ‘resign’, purposed solely towards an attempt towards placating the awesome Burner community, it is solely the start of the needed changes for the Burning Man Project, thus Burning Man, to act in an ethical manner.

  5. Thanks Burners.me. Yes I have sat on several grant panels here in NC as well. I have been a successful, self supporting artist for decades. And I teach all over NA, and a lot in the Bay Area. I have taught at The Crucible several times. I know first hand of Burning Man and of the arts community in CA as well as nationally. I am wholly disappointed when highly funded organizations take complete advantage of artists- especially hungry ones. I have spent many years teaching artists to stop being victimized by rich organizations, fat gallery owners, and abusive show promoters. They deserve better than this when artists work so hard to create really solid work and need to get beyond basic survival. It’s sad that this organization has been given wholesale license by the community at large to abuse artists. Breaks my heart – really.

  6. ummm burnersxxxx, you can donate to a charity organization, such as united way, and designate a specific recipient. there are many ‘pass-thru’ umbrella type agencies that do this.

    • He is saying I can donate to Burning Man Arts, and specify that the money must be used to purchase software licenses from Slideroom. That is not “passing through” the donation to another charity, not even close.

      I’m not an accountant, but I am on the Board of a Directors of a California-based 501(c)3 charity, which has managed projects where this “pass-thru” funding you discuss was required. It is not as straightforward as you make it sound – and definitely not the same as saying “I want all this money to go to purchase a specific product from a specific vendor”.

      This is why BMOrg technically can’t sell a scarf or a ticket directly via their tax-exempt corporate structure.

      If any experts want to weigh in, they’re welcome to (or perhaps post some links to support these claims) – though it still won’t make me write the Burning Man Project a check. I’d rather give my money to Reallocate or the Sea Shepherd Society.

  7. Get a better accountant. I know this and I’m not even in the US. In fairness, I do write code for financial and tax management systems and grant processing is a huge coding effort.

    Under US law earmarking a donation is quite common. You can give money to a university earmarked toward the purchase of new laboratory equipment for a specific department. You can donate money to a town council and stipulate that the money be used to build play equipment in a specific park. You can donate money to the Burning Man project and stipulate that the funds be used to offset the fees that ALL artists pay to submit their art grant requests.

    What you can’t do is donate $5 to the Burning Man Project so that your friend Bob Dobbs specifically doesn’t have to pay anything to submit his grant request. To the US internal revenue service, this would be allowing you to deduct that $5 as a charitable gift, when it really only serves the purpose of benefiting your friend. But, that isn’t what we’re talking about here, is it?

    The difference is that a gift is tax deductible. In a gift to a non-profit organization, you voluntary transfer money or property with no expectation of commensurate financial benefit in return for the transfer. Since you don’t get a financial benefit from artists registering for grants, your gift is truly a gift under US IRS regulations even if you earmark it in the manner we’ve discussed.

    Earmarking donations is common all over the world, and is NOT against the law in the US. Period. You statement is simply wrong, and needs to be called out. You would be able to legally donate AND legally claim a tax deduction.

    Kind of put your argument in a bit of a shambles there. Now, where is that cheque?

    • My argument is that I wouldn’t donate to Burning Man’s charities, because the money piles up in their bank account, and a very tiny percentage goes to the cause they purport to represent. You can read the details of it here:


      It’s your argument that’s in a shambles. Please read the links I’ve posted. You just provide a bunch of words, with no references to support you. Why should I believe someone who says they’re a poor software developer in the UK (there’s no such thing in San Francisco), who can’t do math and doesn’t have any money, but posts from an IP address in the 8th Arondissement of Paris? I’ve stayed in the Georges V there, the room cost Eu8000 per night.

      • No, you said it was illegal for you to do an earmarked donation to Burning Man. Specifically that earmarking a donation was a violation of US IRS law. I corrected you and explained that is wasn’t. Then your argument changed- that you won’t give Burning Man money because they won’t spend it on the cause they represent. Of course, you ignored that the earmark would directly address that problem, didn’t you? You shifted the argument when you realized you were losing.

        No, the real problem is that you like to rant when you have no intention of making the world a better place.

        As for the 8th arondissement in Paris, I am currently at work and use Tor for any personal Internet surfing on the job. My real IP address at the moment is in London. You can try to cast me as an evil rich man but it won’t work (there are no poor software developers in San Francisco… get out of your glass tower and look around!). It is merely a distraction from the real issue- the fact that you love pointing out problems, but won’t lift a finger to solve them.

        Oh, and I prefer staying in the 5th or 11th arrondissements- much cheaper.

        I’m disappointed you didn’t take up the challenge but am not surprised. Too bad really- you could have easily addressed something you wrote so passionately about.

        Workday is over. Going home now. I think I’m done here anyway.

  8. Lollie – you are an idiot if you can’t tell the difference between a multi-million dollar “art project” nickle and dimeing the artists that generate their profits versus a private individual.

  9. I think all of us are getting a bit tired of burners.me’s self-righteousness, constant drum beat of faux outrage against Burning Man.

    First, these are grants are for are that doesn’t even appear on playa- are that isn’t bound for the event at all. This is essentially free money going out to support artists. It is a gift from the Burning Man community, and a fairly generous one- by your own post they are giving grants up to close to the million dollar range. Instead of celebrating it, you take the opportunity to bitch and whinge about Burning Man passing on a $5 fee that goes completely to cover the online registration service used to sort the grants- it doesn’t even go to Burning Man!

    You continue on to bitch about how Burning Man has so much money they should just pay for this- pointing out a supposed one-million in undistributed assets.

    Well, according to an online post a couple of days ago, the owner of burners.me is a software multi-millionaire worth about 50 million and was pictured next to his airplane. Wow- the owner of burners.me is worth significantly more than the company he spends all of his time bitching about. Who’d have thought that?

    So, you want to make a difference? Instead of bitching and whining, why don’t you write a cheque to the Burning Man organization earmarked to cover the cost of the art grant LOI and proposal fees so the artists don’t have to. You’d be helping the community, and spending some of the piles of money you are currently sitting on top of to get a nice little tax write-off too. Seriously, $1500 doesn’t seem like a lot for a rich former dot-com guy – “to let the 300 artists submitting proposals send them in for free”.

    So burnersxxx, here is your challenge for today. Get out your chequebook, write a tax-deductible cheque to the Burning Man non-profit earmarked for covering these fees so the artists don’t have to. If the fees exceed your donation, commit to covering the overage too. Post the cheque (you can blur the MICR line and other personal information) to burners.me before you send it. Put your money where your mouth is.

    Otherwise, you are just a bitching, whinging troll who doesn’t care about the community, but just serves to complain about it.

    Your move, mate.

    • I give plenty. That’s the point of Burning Man: we make the party. We all give what we can. What do YOU contribute?

      You can read about it here: http://burners.me/2014/10/14/burning-mans-gift-economy-and-its-effect-on-mainstream-society/

      I’d rather write a check to a real charity, than one that sits on 95 cents out of every dollar given to it, while its directors run multi million dollar for-profit camps and a private royalty company they call Decommodification. I think you are getting “Burning Man” and “BMOrg” confused. They’re not the same thing, at all. Go read some of the comments at blog.burningman.com if you think this “faux outrage” only comes from this free site which is my gift to the Burner community.

      And the largest grant they give under this program is $10,000 – try reading the article. The million dollars is cash they sit on and DON’T give to artists – click the link and you can read the details, from their IRS filings.

      • First a minor mea culpa. I cocked-up- $900,000 should have been $90,000 (15 x $6000). Sorry- was always bad at arithmetic.

        I contribute too. Last year, I volunteered for greeters, helped protect a hot spring, and personally gave money out of pocket to help a friend’s art project (about $500 US). All this on my shitty little software developer salary, and whilst still paying for tickets, supplies and car hire. Oh, and playa gifts. I gave away postcards of places in the UK that I hand colored. Each one was individual and done with love and care. Perhaps you even saw one. I didn’t go the previous year- no money. I do other things too- contribute time and money to animal rescue and provide free IT services to a friend’s rape crisis center.

        The fact is, when I see a need, I try to figure out what can be done to fill it. When you see a need you simply bitch and whinge in a pathetic attempt to get attention.

        You identified the submission fee as being a problem. Do something positive and fix it- you can certainly make sure Burning Man knows to spend your donation on that specific purpose, can’t you?

        Or you can keep pointing out things you don’t like, bitching and whinging about them, and not doing anything proactive to solve the problems, all while sitting on your piles of money like a fat Scrooge McDuck.

        I’m still waiting to see that cheque. Do us a favor and show us that you can be part of the solution instead of an Internet troll.

          • I have belonged to two world famous art 501c3 non profits as an exhibiting member for over 20 years (juried in as an artist which is extremely difficult to be accepted- only the best), Southern Highland Craft Guild and Piedmont Craftsmen LLC . SHCG is the OLDEST art guild in the USA founded in 1898. It is highly prestigious to gain exhibiting membership. I also had my work acquired in the White House Collection in 2001. I have served on the board of both of these two non profit organizations many times in many capacities over the last 20 years. I even worked for Piedmont Craftsmen as an employee for 3 years in the mid 2000’s. I have a complete grasp of the legal and financial workings of an art 501c3. Mr Lollies has absolutely no concept of just how egregious the grant process and the grant contract for either of these two BM organizations are. I have been the recipient of several art grants, one being very sizable from the NC State Arts Commission. So with an authoritative voice I can say that BMorg is doing this all wrong. (I have seen both contracts for on playa and off playa works). From the application process right down to the way the artists are funded and the rights they claim to the artworks is really pushing the legal boundaries to the limit. As a respected artist of 30 years I would never participate in this process. There are better ways to get ones work on a global stage and gain full recognition and never give up ones rights to their work. Shame on you BMorg.

          • Thanks Warriormetalsmith, you sound very credible to me. The other guy sounds like a troll, and with each hysterical email where he refuses to read the links I provide in response…more so.

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