BurnerCon – #glc2015 Report [Update]

BMOrg’s Global Leadership Conference just happened, at the Kabuki Hotel in Japantown. Why there, you ask? Well, perhaps this is just a coincidence, but it’s a Joie De Vivre boutique hotel, part of the empire built by BMP Director Chip Conley. Hope they got a good discount on the space.

BMOrg had promised us that we would be able to watch the sessions on video, even if we weren’t lucky enough to be invited to the conference. Unfortunately, Friday’s sessions were plagued with technical difficulties, so all we at home got to see was the warm-up. @motorbikematt from the Mars Rover Art Car team (and NASA) was in charge of the streaming; it appears sending live video from the Mission to Mars, is not as technically challenging as streaming it from the Mission in San Francisco. The stream was working slightly better on Saturday. Not all of the sessions have been uploaded to YouTube, I hope they will be soon.

BMOrg are “side by side with us, collaborating, co-creating”…

Of course, they’re still camped in a private Commodification Camp which is not shared with the public. And they’re making this statement at an event that regular Burners can’t attend, only insiders.

Marian made the point that if we want change in the Org, we should just be patient because it’s a hundred year plan. She revealed that the size of the business now is $34 million in revenues.

They are going to cut the wait times at Will Crawl by a third to a half – so it might drop to 4 or 5 hours. They are negotiating to increase the population cap, too – a team of 5 are going to Washington in 2 weeks, meeting high level people in the Department of the Interior and Law Enforcement.

You can see Marian’s presentation in this video, you will need to fast-forward to 18:49. The recording is a little patchy.

Handheld lasers are now banned; fixed lasers are still permitted.

As much as I love lasers, this is probably a good thing. Idiots scanning the crowd led to blindness for a BRC Ranger. Another safety concern is people pointing lasers at the Man and the Temple on burn night. Both structures get packed with highly inflammable materials – it’s not just wood – so that they burn brightly and in a controlled fashion. Right up to the Burn, there are people inside the structures preparing them. If some of this combustible material was hit by a powerful enough laser, the whole thing would go up before it’s ready – maybe before the people can get out.

nice things catIt is interesting to note that in this case, which I would see as a workplace injury, it was Burners who provided the financial compensation to the injured worker. BMOrg just made up a new rule to restrict the behavior of Burners. I kind of think it sucks that Burners pay for this and get punished; all BMOrg has to do is come up with a new rule. Lasers could have been managed with licenses, regulations, and fines – like how they are handling drones – instead of an outright ban. This seems like a knee-jerk reaction. What’s next, someone OD’s, so they make drugs illegal? All have to pay the price for the idiocy of a few, while BMOrg has to pay $0. Burners carry the cost, BMOrg get all the benefits. They don’t even have to worry about their workers comp insurance premiums going up! Since they’re side-by-side with Burners, perhaps they could at least match the funds raised by Burners.

BM founder Harley Dubois is determined to change corporate America.

Larry Harvey expressed similar sentiments recently, when he told Bloomberg “my mission is to reform the 1 percent“.

This reminds me of the Timothy Leary days, when all politicians and CEOs needed to do was drop acid and then they would “get it”, so the world could be saved.

BM founder Crimson Rose is fresh back from Ireland, where she was sent to watch David Best’s Temple burn.

In Crimson’s session, she revealed the combined power of Burning Man Arts (basically, The Burning Man Project acquired Black Rock Arts Foundation as well as Black Rock City LLC). Her numbers also include art grants within the Regional Network. Art grants for 2015 are up to $1.2 million, and a further $100k has been granted to off-Playa art projects. Of course, we don’t know what the official figures for Burning Man Project are for 2014 or 2015, that information is years away – we’ll just have to take Crimson’s word for it. Was any of the $1.2 $1.3 million “in kind” contributions, or was it all cash? Again, we won’t know until we see the 2015 IRS Form, some time in 2017. This new multi-year lag in transparency makes it easier for BMOrg to make claims that can’t be verified, which in turn makes the Minister of Propaganda’s job easier.

For 2015, Burning Man Arts received 510 Letters of Intent for art projects. Of these, 222 were invited to submit a grant proposal. 210 were submitted, plus 34 from the regionals. In total 123 grants were awarded in 2015, for $1.3 million – an average of $10,569 per artist – substantially down from previous years. The amount of Art Grants as a percentage of revenues has stayed about the same, even as revenues have grown massively.

I have updated my previous table with the new information, and to list BRAF and Art Honoraria grants together.

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The 2014 and 2015 figures have been distorted further by including art grants from the Regionals network. It’s not clear to me if these are now funded by BMOrg, or by the Regionals from their own ticket sales. So far, I have no information that BMOrg ever sends money to the Regionals for any type of grants; rather, the Regionals are required to put some of their own ticket money into funding art projects. If BMOrg are going to count all these art grants in their public figures, then they should count them the same way in their tax filings. Right?

There seem to be four types of Art Grants now:

  1. Honoraria Grants – partial funding of on-Playa artworks
  2. Global Art Grants, continuation of BRAF’s Grants to Artists program. 12 years starting in 2003, awarded $450,000+ to 112 projects – an average of $4000 each. These were in 23 US states and 18 foreign countries.
  3. Civic Arts – formerly a BRAF program. 10 years, starting in 2005. 45 projects to date. $216,800 to 8 projects in 2014 (average $27,100 each).
  4. Community Innovation Grants: collaboration and partnerships with like-minded people.

Crimson stated that since 2001, Burning Man has funded more than $8 million in art. Let’s drill into that a bit.

That’s over 14 years; in the last 5 years, they’ve made more than $122 million in ticket sales to their Art Festival, and spent just under $5 million on art. We will probably never know how much they spent on lawyers and accountants since 2013, the last year when they made their financial chart available to Burners. Now it is secret, while they boast about being more transparent. Ah, such irony! What we do know that in the 5 year period of 2009-2013, they spent more than $6.6 million on lawyers and accountants, and $3.6 million on art.

Screenshot 2015-04-12 09.14.50

Interestingly, BMOrg are no longer sharing the 2010 Afterburn financials on their web site. They’re still available at the Wayback Machine.

Dennis Kucinich spoke about Quantum Physics, manifesting your ideal destiny, the nature of reality, and being a Fox News analyst.

We got a report from Detroit, about what Burners are doing in the city where houses cost less than Burning Man tickets:

And we got an update from the International Regionals:

It sounds like the most important issue will be addressed…”coming soon”.

Finally, here is the Dear Leader of this cultural movement:

The next few days are going to be long and exhausting, challenging GLC participants to pack as much information and ideas and conversation into their brains as possible before heading back to their region to bring the seed home. One thing’s for sure, they’ll leave as tired as they are inspired.

Oh and here’s Larry Harvey in a worm costume:

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Larry “Bookworm” Harvey is judging you (Photo by Sidney Erthal)

[Update 4/13/15 1:13pm]

There has been some confusion in the comments about the funding of the Regionals.

Here are the relevant slides from Crimson Rose’s presentation.

Screenshot 2015-04-13 13.11.17Screenshot 2015-04-13 13.12.45

Screenshot 2015-04-13 13.13.16

So it looks like for 2015, there were 78 Burning Man projects, as well as 27 art projects funded by the regionals. This makes 105 projects, and $1.2 million. It appears to me that the funding for the regional art projects is being included in the total. However, maybe there has been some sort of policy change now, and money will be flowing from the non-profit out to all the Regionals to spread Burner art through the world. We can only hope…

Everything might be within the $1.2 million, including the $100,000 Global Arts Grants. And what of the Civic Arts grants? $216,800 cash handed out in 2014, is this part of 2015’s $1.2 million budget, or on top of it?

As for Global Art Grants, it seems the 4 international projects are part of the 18 total; but, are the 18 counted in the 105? Are the 8 Civic Arts Project part of it? Or is it actually 131 art projects funded in 2015?

Confusing, isn’t it.

Google Employee Creating Burning Man Musical

A couple of weeks ago we brought you news of Burning Man: The Musical – a new Kickstarter project. It seems the idea is ramping up fast, with a big profile from the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The man behind the idea has never been to Burning Man. Does that make him a pre-Burner?

The musical is the brainchild of Matt Werner, a 30-year-old New York City-based Google employee who has never been to Burning Man. This year will be his first.

The Oakland, Calif. native — a former “hacker house” resident and a friend to many Silicon Valley hipster techies — admits that he sees the irony: A virgin Burner orchestrates a musical version of the world’s favorite desert Utopian festival that he has never been to.

His own story seems to be a little bit reflected in the plot of the unborn musical. The story line focuses on a 25-year old techie named Joe who lives in San Francisco and commutes down to Silicon Valley.

Joe goes to Burning Man one year and it disappoints initially.

Who wants to dance with a sparkle pony, right?

Who wants to dance with a sparkle pony, right?

“His lofty ambitions to network with high-powered executives are not met. Between getting dumped by his girlfriend, dancing with sparkle ponies, and nearly dying while on a vision quest in the desert, he reaches a real low,” according to Werner’s web page.

“In the midst of this low, the acceptance, connection, and playfulness he experiences at Burning Man make him start to question his past life of ambition and power in Silicon Valley. The sharing economy and free spirits he meets in the desert make him wonder--is his real mission in life just to make money? Or is it maybe to authentically connect with others and help others?” the synopsis reads.

The RGJ asks the hard-hitting questions:

Q: Are you going to be critical at all of Burning Man and its direction? Is this just about a trip to Burning Man, about Burning Man? Or is it about Burning Man and its direction today?

I’m using “Book of Mormon” as a model. It does satirize the Mormon faith, but it does celebrate it too. It’s laughing with them, and not at them. It is going to be a satirical piece. It’s going to be a musical comedy. I mean, people recognize the absurdity of the festival. It is going to be a celebration of the values, and about the conflict between Silicon Valley and Black Rock City.

Q: Which side of that conflict are you on?

For me, I live in multiple worlds. I’ve worked at Google for five years, but I’m going to go to Burning Man. What is interesting to me, this notion of utopia. Some people I know, they believe that technology will solve all the world’s problems. Then there’s this other version of utopia, where we’re really in tune with ourselves. What I think is fascinating is seeing these worlds collide. I’ve lived in both of them. I used to live with these Russian programmers living in this “hacker house” pad. But we’ve had these really deep, meaningful conversations about all of this. Some of the media depictions have really hammed up the influence of these guys.

Q: So, do these techies come back changed people? Can you be a Google guy, or a tech savant, and be a true Burner too?

If you’re a billionaire, can you really say you’re a Burner? I really don’t know. Working at Google, the co-founders, they’ve all been to Burning Man. Some of the Silicon Valley people that go — some of the guys, they’re going to hook up with girls, and do drugs, and dance. There’s others who are radically transformed, and who do decide to find other work. I don’t have a statement I am trying to make: Silicon Valley, bad; Burning Man, good, or vice versa

[Read the rest of the story at the Reno Gazette-Journal]

There’s a conflict between Silicon Valley and Black Rock City? Could’ve fooled me. But perhaps that is the ironic premise for this Big Farce. Donate here if you want to find out.

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Weapon of Mass Instruction

Here’s a great idea for an art car that could be used in the real world to spread the mission of The Burning Man Project. I think it would be more effective than panel discussions preaching to the converted. They could even hand out their “death of god” book club material they’re so fond of.

From BoredPanda:

Raul Lemesoff, an eccentric artist in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has created a bizarre tank-like ‘Weapon Of Mass Instruction’ (Arma de Instruccion Masiva) that he intends to use to battle ignorance and spread knowledge.

Lemesoff converted a 1979 Ford Falcon into a bizarre tank-like vehicle complete with a swiveling turret, a non-functioning gun, and space to store about 900 books – inside and outside of the vehicle.
A video about the project made by 7Up shows him driving through the streets of Buenos Aires and delivering books to young and old alike. His only demand – that they promise to read what he’s given them. “My missions are very dangerous,” the artist jokes in a video about his project. “I attack people in a very nice and fun way.“


kid faces book tank book tank facetank handing book on streetbook tank night

Images: Bored Panda

Burning Man: The Musical

Some New York veteran Burners are raising funds on Kickstarter to create Burning Man: The Musical. Inspired by Book of Mormon, it will feature songs like “My Sparkle Pony” and “The Only Black Man In Black Rock City”.


 

from Kickstarter.com:

Burning Man: The Musical is a Book of Mormon-style musical that celebrates the ecstasy and agony of Burning Man, an annual festival of community, self-expression and radical self-reliance in the desert of Nevada.

About the musical

The story is driven by a 25-year old white guy named Joe. He’s a techie who lives in San Francisco and commutes down to Silicon Valley. He’s been driven his whole life by external validation, and does anything he can to get ahead–no matter how many people he has to burn along the way.

But, when Joe finally gets to Burning Man, his lofty ambitions to network with high-powered executives are not met. Between getting dumped by his girlfriend, dancing with sparkle ponies, and nearly dying while on a vision quest in the desert, he reaches a real low.

In the midst of this low, the acceptance, connection, and playfulness he experiences at Burning Man make him start to question his past life of ambition and power in Silicon Valley. The sharing economy and free spirits he meets in the desert make him wonder–is his real mission in life just to make money? Or is it maybe to authentically connect with others and help others?

Will Joe make it out of the desert remaining a power-hungry douchebag? Or will the heat, dust, art cars, dancing and kind strangers allow him to get back in touch with the heart and soul of his younger self? You’ll find out if you contribute to this Kickstarter project.

About this campaign

We’re in New York City developing this musical with Broadway and off-Broadway actors, as well as veteran Burners. This campaign is to raise funds to create a 5 minute video of the beginning of the musical to post on YouTube by August 30–the start of Burning Man. If we raise more than that, our stretch goal is to put on a short production of the opening number at Burning Man itself this year. If we exceed this stretch goal, the extra funds will help us as we enter the second phase of the development process and write and record the love song “My Sparkle Pony,” and the satirical song “The Only Black Man in Black Rock City.” Based on the reception of this opening number, we will develop a timeline to create the full production.

Collaborate with us!

We’d love to hear your ideas, and collaborate on this project with you. Please email us at burningmanthemusical@gmail.com.

Thanks for your help, and we look forward to seeing you on the playa!

Disclaimer: Burning Man: The Musical is the working title for this piece. This is in no way sponsored or endorsed by the Burning Man Project, but is a satirical theater piece celebrating the festival and its unique impact on American culture.

Risks and challenges

Because musicals take so long to develop (Book of Mormon took 7 years from concept to opening night), we’ve set a defined, achievable goal for this Kickstarter project. We’re not using this project to fund the creation of the entire musical (as that’s a multi-year project and very costly). Instead, we’re creating a 5-minute video of the opening number and posting it to YouTube. This will set the scene for the musical, introduce the main cast and score for the piece. Based on the reception of this opening number, we will come up with a roadmap and timeline to develop the full production.

This project will require many people to work on tight deadlines to deliver the final product by August 30, 2015. We need to record the opening song in a professional studio, choreograph the opening number, and film it professionally with Broadway and off-Broadway actors. We luckily have access to the YouTube Creator Space NYC, connections with the New York theater scene, and a track record of delivering on Kickstarter projects on time.

For our prior Kickstarter projects, see:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattwerner/oakland-in-popular-memory-book-project
and
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mattwerner/bay-area-underground-photobook-project

Lucent Dossier New Track – free Download

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Lucent Dossier Experience are about to release their first album. You can download their track Kundalini here.

YourEdm says:

Indie festival lovers and future bass hippies from all walks of life know about The Lucent Dossier Experience. Their mind blowingly visual and artistic genius is in a constant state of evolution and makes them a must see at every festival they perform at even if you’ve just seen them a few weeks ago. For their latest musical endeavor, they’ve crafted a truly epic and beautiful track that is just one of the many that will be on their next full length album…we are are beyond excited to be able to premiere this new single for free download today. Epic horn stabs, a heavy atmosphere, and exotic instruments blend perfectly with a glitchy, digital grittiness that only the minds at Lucent Dossier can concoct.

Lucent Dossier are starting their tour with the first shows of the year in Los Angeles and San Francisco:

LUCENT DOSSIER – LA CLUB NOKIA AND SF THE REGENCY!

Come catch our first new shows of 2015!

New original music, dance, aerial, fire and all the madness and beauty you love!

Get your tickets in advance so you don’t miss out!

Los Angeles: Club Nokia
Saturday, February 21st – TICKETS HERE

San Francisco: The Regency Ballroom
Saturday, February 28th – TICKETS HERE

After that they will be performing at Lightning in a Bottle and Coachella.

 

Their “Cuddle The World Foundation” shares a lot of love:

CONTRIBUTE TO CUDDLE THE WORLD FOUNDATION!

Please contribute to our Cuddle The World Foundation! Cuddle The World distributes love, inspirational toys, cuddle blankets and teddy bears to children in basic care orphanages and institutions around the world.

Join us for our Cuddle The World benefit at Eleven Nightclub in Los Angeles! Tickets available at www.beticketing.com/cuddletheworld

All proceeds will go toward: Casa de Sion in Guatemala http://casadesion.blogspot.com/