Last weekend, Burning Man Arts – the new organization that is a merger between two of the non-profits in BMOrg’s empire, Black Rock Arts Foundation and the Burning Man Project – threw its Eighth annual Artumnal Gathering event.
I would love to be able to tell you the story of what a great job Burning Man’s non-profit subsidiary is doing in supporting the Arts, how much money it gives to poor artists and how little it keeps for itself.
Sadly, that story would be a fairytale: the evidence paints a different picture.
Today, the IRS Form 990 filing for 2013 for BRAF was released. We’re still waiting on BMP’s information, when it’s available I will write another post.
Their overall efficiency score was 20% – meaning that if you give $1 to the Arts via BRAF, only 20 cents of it will go the Arts. The rest is absorbed into salaries and overheads.
Here is an updated table of their giving for the previous 7 years:
|Black Rock Arts Foundation||Assets||Revenue||Expenses||Profit||Grants||Efficiency|
|Burning Man Project|
The total amount of money the charity raised in 2013 dropped 20% from 2012. They kept their salaries about the same, and reduced the amount that actually gets paid out in grants.
Gifting dropped by 11.3%.
The grant money was split between Individuals (US and non-US), and Organizations.
Individuals (US): $36,370
Organizations (US): $46,696
Individuals (non-US): $18,500
16 un-named individuals split $36,370; 11 got an average of $1,306 each, and 5 received larger awards, $4,400 average.
The overseas figure is made up of $12,500 to the Czech Republic, split between 2 recipients; and $6,000 to someone in London.
Of the Grants to US Organizations, the breakdown is:
The Exploratorium $10,000
The Box Shop $6,000
Urban Matter, Inc $6,000
Engineered Artworks Ltd $11,100
The $10,000 is a mere drop in the bucket to the Exploratorium, which raised $40 million in 2012 and has $138 million of assets. But it is the second largest grant handed out by BRAF, representing almost 10% of their total grant allocation.
12 works of art were donated to the group, recorded as a non-cash contribution of $50,000 – $4,166 each.
The charity still sits on most of the money given to it. Net Assets increased 15.7%:
They ended the year with $478,088 in cash – 4.7 times what they gave out to artists.
Almost half of the organization’s revenues went to salaries, which increased slightly:
Salaries (% of revenues)
2012: $209,461 – 33.7%
2013: $211,491 – 41.6%
This was more than double the amount of funds they paid out to the cause they represent.
They were charged $40,000 for accounting costs – a number that seems extraordinarily high, for filling out a 34 page form. More than $1000 per page – and many of the pages are blank. I wonder if the charity was forced to shoulder some of the burden of the complexities related to their “transition to a non-profit” – which included carving out the only real assets of the business, its trademarks and related royalty streams, to Decommodification LLC, a new for-profit company owned by the 6 remaining founders of Burning Man.
Note that the overall “non-profit” group paid a staggering $1.43 million to its accountants and lawyers in 2013, according to their Afterburn report.
BRAF paid $25,154 for rent and office expenses, $1,707 for travel, and $4,303 for insurance.
Like BMP, there are 18 directors of BRAF. Each put in 2 hours per week – except for Freddy Hahne (President) and Tracy Burton (Treasurer), who commit 4 hours each. Of Burning Man’s 6 remaining founders, only Larry, Harley, and Will & Crimson are listed as contributing their time to BRAF.
BRAF’s Artumnal was their only fundraising event during the year.
According to the IRS form, BMP Director Chris Bently’s building charged a whopping $8,345 for the use of the Bently Reserve venue: 8.1% of the money that was raised at the event. Mr Bently inherited the $47 million building and many other assets including a $45 million coin collection and a 50,000 acre cattle ranch.
The 2013 Artumnal Gathering grossed $185,780.
$38,684 was spent on food.
$33,315 was spent on entertainment. Some of the entertainers (listed below) are salaried employees of BMOrg.
$102,936 went to BRAF as contributions. For any sponsors wondering how much of their Artumnal ticket or table donation is tax-deductible, it appears to be 55% – but don’t take my word for it, I’m not an accountant. You should seek independent, professional advice, rather than telling the IRS “Burners.Me is my financial advisor”.
Since $101,566 was the amount actually gifted by the Black Rock Arts Foundation over the course of the entire year, basically the Artumnal raises all the money that goes to the artists.
You can see the IRS Form 990 for the Black Rock Arts Foundation here. Hopefully when they release the 2013 Form 990 for the Burning Man Project, it will tell a much better story, one of generously passing donations given to them on to the artists.
[Update 11/25/14 10:12am] Burn After Reading magazine brings us a report from the event, which (ironically) was shut down by a fire alarm.
[Update 12/14/8:15pm] See All We Want For Chri$tma$ Is Your Money for links to further analysis we’ve done on the charitable performance of “we call the whole thing Burning Man”.
- Bear Kittay – sitar
- Cello Joe
- Cptn Jay (Airpusher)
- Diva Marisa Lenhardt
- Dr. Abacus
- Dutch Star (Techno Syndicate)
- Emily Athena – dance
- Fou Fou HA!
- Haute Mess (Brass Tax)
- The Gentlemen Callers (featuring Atom and Buck of Mutaytor)
- Jeff Hobbs – violin and saxaphone
- LouLou (Thievery Corp) & Pleasuremaker (Afrolicious)
- M.O.C. – Modern On Command
- Mauro ffortissimo – Sunset Piano Project
- Natalie Rhae – contortion and dance
- SexBombe Kabaret
- TYCHO DJ SET
- and Master of Ceremonies $teven Ra$pa
- and more…
Art and Installations
- Inflatable art by Astrobotanicals
- Site specific installation “Studies in Photokinesthesia” by Ben Burke
- Art by Karl Gillick
- Wearable art by Miranda Caroligne
- Sculpture by Erin Ferguson, Valerie Elizabeth Mallory and Mikell Haynes
- Visual Artistry by Rainbow Puddles
- Interactive art by Christopher Schardt
- Wearable sculpture and masks by Jamie Emerick
- Contributing artistry by The Style Ranger
- Sunset Piano by Dean Mermell and Mauro ffortissimo
- Site specific art by Peter Tjeerdsma
- Space Palette by Tim Thompson
Flowers and Decor
- Christina Pettigrew
- Julz (Hookahdome)
- Marcia Crosby
- $teven Ra$pa