Art Budget Shenanigans [Update]

A Burning Man artist has responded to my request for feedback in yesterday’s post Follow the Money, with a most interesting tale.


 

From Anonymous Burner:

BMHQ Artists meeting, 2014

BMHQ Artists meeting, May 2015

 

This picture was taken at the Follow Up Artists’ Summit held last May at BMHQ.  This was the second meeting after the first one in 2014 where a group of artists tried to make changes in the artist contract for the event but were met with a meeting facilitator that broke everyone up to bitch in different sessions.
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Then last May they held the follow up meeting.  Whereas there were upwards of 50 at the first meeting, this one was poorly attended.  Besides myself there was 2 other “Playa” artists and a bunch of newbies.  No one would show up because they knew nothing was going to come out of this meeting. They had tons of food…
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Looking at the pie chart, they state that for 2015 they would spend $3M on the art.  For ease of discussion, look at 40% Grants, 40% Services, and 20% Administration.
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1.2M for Grants (now includes Man and Man Base)
$600k on Admin?  Pick a number of FTEs for BRC art at $100k each.  They don’t have 6 FTEs working on BRC art and they sure as hell aren’t paying them $100k
$1.2M on Services?  For the heavy equipment thats used to build the site and is already out there?
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They won’t feed the artists at the Commissary.  The art projects have to pay for water, fuel, light towers, wood, DG for burns, Etc, Etc.  Plus pay for Port-o-Lets, feeding their crew, and everything else.  How are these service and Admin amounts calculated?
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Here’s the problem these folks have:
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They can’t raise money for the BM Project because if you donate to it, what is your donation doing?  I see lots of folks flying around the world talking.  What specific programs can they point to to make a case for donating money to the BM project?
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That leaves them trying to run the non-profit on the back of the event.  Yes the event makes money, finally – they ran the outfit out of a cigar box for years –  but leaves them unable to increase funding for the artists.  And given the way these lemmings throng to get a spot on the cliff, why should they even consider it.
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And now that they have to raise money for the BM project, where do they go?  To the folks that have been funding these pieces and supporting the artists.  It is a very shallow donor pool.  The result is “donor fatigue”  these folks are weary of being badgered by the Org and look for more permanent art installations.
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At the same time, they have to be careful in getting the community to support the artists more – Larry’s latest efforts are lame in that he keeps referring to the moneyed class and most folks say “he can’t be talking about me, I don’t have any money”.  My wealthy friends that have supported art projects in the past have been insulted by his “let the rich folks pay for it”.  Many are taking the year off this year, as am I.
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Well, I found that somewhat cathartic.  Thanks for hearing me out.

 

burnersxxx:

Thanks very much for sharing that. The artist raises some good points.

Specifically, from a $3 million budget, the numbers work out to:

$1,290,000 Art (43%)

$570,000 Admin (19%)

$1,140,000 Services (38%)

Heavy Equipment Rental was $2.45 million in 2014.

From a $1.2 million Black Rock City art budget, in 2016 they are paying for:

60 Honoraria art projects. Partial grants, artists have to raise most of the project costs themselves

33 Guild Workshops. Regional projects. Projects required to raise almost all the funding and supply personnel themselves.

The Man

The Piazza

The “Turning Man” contraption

The Temple. Partial grant, artists who “win” the project have to raise most of the funding themselves

4 Belltowers

A blacksmith shop

Possible other sculptures

Is the $90,000 what gets spent on art across Burners Without Borders, Black Rock Arts Foundation, Burning Man Arts, and all the other non-Playa activities?


[Update 3/15/16 5:44pm]

The artist has responded to some of the questions raised in our comments. emphasis ours

A question was raised about tickets and that was a good point.  I don;t know how the value of the tickets given to artists/art projects is calculated or categorized.  Here is what I do know – 
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Registered art pieces (funded and non-funded) get access to free tickets, vehicle passes, early arrival passes and the coveted 12 mile (aka Point 1) access privilege
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In addition to the free art project tickets, there are also half price (aka staff tickets) that are made available to the project depending on project scope, schedule, and staffing.  And if that isn’t enough, the Org can also press the special button and grant full price tickets to the artists as well.
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When the Org gives an artist a free ticket (or a half price ticket) how is it categorized in the accounting?  I would bet that in the calculations for the BRC art budget that the tickets are added to Administration or the Services figure at face value ($390).
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One way artists can take advantage of the Org is to have a high profile project start to go bad.  When that happens the tickets and vehicle passes can really start to flow.  A case in point is last year’s Temple – they had like 150 people in their build camp – due to physical constraints they really couldn’t have more than about 30 people working on the Temple at a time.  Even allowing for a generous support crew there was still upwards of 50-75 burners early to the event getting the party started early.
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The other question that was raised had to do with the construction of the Man Base and The Man.  One of the reasons the contractors category has been growing is that the “traditional” Man Base and Man Build crews have been terminated.  The Man and the Man Base are now basically built by hired carpenters – the Org has outsourced the construction function under the guise that “professionals” were needed to build the infrastructure for the city.  They got rid of the Man Base crew in 2013 (Cargo Cult) and the Man Build crew in 2014 or 2015 depending on how you define the termination.
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Another change for contractors happened this year when the Org eliminated the DPW Power Crew and outsourced the electrical grids to Agreko.  They kept a small crew of former DPW Power folks in supervisory roles, and the end result is a little more Disneyfication of the event.  Eventually they’ll outsource gate and perimeter to a security firm and the event will have all the charm of a visit to Ikea.
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The shark was jumped in 2012 with the ticket lottery.  When we look back 10-15 years from now I believe we will acknowledge that the year tickets became scarce was the year the Org stopped caring.
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This is an interesting point about the accounting. If a $397 ticket is sold for half price, do they write it off in the books as $200 of “Admin Costs” (claiming full revenue for the ticket, then the lost revenue as an expense) and then claim that they are contributing this towards arts?
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Why is the only time this “$3 million on art” figure appears in a small, quiet meeting with artists – and all the press discussion is of $1.2 million or $1.5 million? Why do they feed artists generously  (and unnecessarily) at HQ, yet shut them out of the Commissary during their builds?
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Thanks very much to the artist who has been contributing here, I can confirm that I have also heard what they are saying about entire crews being sacked and replaced with contractors from other sources. People who have given a decade or more of their lives to physically constructing Burning Man have been shunted out the door, while newcomers get to cash in. One consequence of this corporatization/Disneyfication is that it is more scaleable and movable. As I said recently to VICE, let’s take this show on the road!

Follow the Money [Updates]

If you thought this year’s theme of “Da Vinci’s Workshop” and the corresponding shift of Propaganda Minister Will Chase over to the Maker Movement meant that 2016 was going to be all about 3d printing, laser cutting, computer-controlled manufacturing, nanomaterials, and all of the exciting things going on in Silicon Valley with the built environment…think again.

So far, it seems, it’s all about money.

We’re not quite 10 weeks into the year, and already we’ve had:

Art, Money and the Renaissance: Re-imagining the Relationship

What Powered the Renaissance? (Could it Have Happened Without Cash?)

The Renaissance’s $ecret Weapon for Arts Funding

How Burners are Re-Inventing the Artists Workshop (answer: “fronted by a master and funded by a relatively small group of wealthy clients”)

And now, Larry Harvey’s latest post “Following the Money: the Florentine Renaissance and Black Rock City”

Is it just me, or is there a bit of a “theme within a theme” starting to emerge here?

In the new post, Larry likens BMOrg spending $1.2 million in art grants to Lorenzo de Medici taking notice of the young man Michelangelo and moving him into his palace to get intimate, or Peggy Guggenheim sponsoring Jackson Pollack.

When Lorenzo de’ Medici adopted the young Michelangelo into his family, he did much more than hire on a hand to serve his needs. Private patronage is personal; it is immediate and intimate, and what is true of Florence and our temporary city is also true of every celebrated art scene ever known. One example is the relationship of a famous heiress, Peggy Guggenheim, and Jackson Pollack, a struggling painter. Peggy paid the painter’s daily bills, bought his work when no one else would, and organized his first art show. At a soirée held in her home, she even let him pee in her fireplace (though not on the carpet)…

…Money sluiced through the streets and piazzas of Renaissance Florence, and yet the sheer hydraulic force of capital did not determine every outcome. Money was a means, but not an end. What mattered most was social interaction in the context of a networked culture driven by ideals, and Burning Man may be regarded in a similar light. One way to fathom this phenomenon is to follow the money. In 2016, Black Rock City will distribute 1.2 million dollars to artists in the form of honoraria.

It is around 3% of revenues – almost exactly half this year’s $2,349,000 Vehicle Pass take.

Artists have been asking for a fair and equitable contract. Here at Burners.Me, we have been suggesting more should be spent on art than on lawyers. It doesn’t sound like Larry & Co are listening to either of these groups, so we wonder where the feedback he’s getting is coming from – and if his information diet is being distorted and propagandized as it moves up the food chain.

In the case of Burning Man, such quasi-governmental patronage does not exhaust resources that are devoted to art. As with competitions sponsored by the Wool Guild, Black Rock City’s honoraria are awarded by a small committee, but this curatorship, as practiced by a few, is counter-balanced by a radically populist patronage. Each year many artist groups will subsidize their projects through community fundraising events and crowd-sourced campaigns on the Internet. Some critics say that Burning Man should shoulder all of these expenses, but we have found that self-initiated efforts create constituencies, loyal networks that support these artists on and off the playa.

This has produced a flow of art that’s issued out of Black Rock City in the form of privately commissioned work, civic installations, and exhibitions subsidized by festivals. Now this surge of money in support of art is going global.

[Source: Burningman Journal]

Radically populist patronage? Sounds like Sanders and Trump voters.

I would love to see a link to somewhere on the Internet where somebody said that BMOrg should pay all the costs of all the art at Burning Man. I think the general consensus here has been that they should pay more of the costs than a third of the pieces they promote the crap out of and claim credit for – and they should probably pay for The Temple, the same way they do for The Man.  Let us spend our artist funding budget supporting pieces that wouldn’t otherwise get there, rather than mega-works you can promote with Oprah and Dr Phil and sell tickets to for $1207+ for spectators to come and behold.

Here is a recent link to Larry Harvey repeating his oft-told tall tale that “no artist has ever signed their art at Burning Man”. This previously espoused philosophy seems to be the antithesis of his latest claim, that the art at Black Rock City funded by their annual Medici donation of $1.2 million (by year BM30) has enabled outside careers and markets for its artists. Personally, I believe the latter to be closer to the truth, and his earlier claim to be false. Nice to see you coming round, Larry.

Last year, in an interview with Ignite Channel, BMOrg were claiming to have created their own art market.

So instead of trying to cater to the traditional art market, Burning Man has created its own. The Burning Man Project not only funds art projects shown at the festival itself, but supports artists creating interactive projects in cities internationally. 

Many cultural festivals have since followed Burning Man’s example in putting art front and center. With pride, Harvey shares: “Many people come [to Burning Man] for the art and stay for the community. (…) We are making it more possible for artists to sell their art in such a way that they can live off their art.” By supporting artists who would otherwise struggle to gain recognition in the traditional art market, Burning Man and other festivals are giving birth to creative dreams while shining a light on unlikely art.

“Anybody who’s going to take art as a vocation has to endure enough. Artists deserve to make a living.” — Larry Harvey

I would be interested to hear the opinions of some Burner artists about this. Has BMOrg helped them to live off their art? Last we heard, BMOrg’s artist contract specifically forbade artists from paying themselves anything from the art grant. It also said BMOrg take a 10% cut if the art piece is sold off-Playa.

Are they going to claim credit, and a cut of the money, for this? If you ask me, the credit and the money should all go to Marco.

Bliss-Dance-Marco-Cochrane-web_t1000

Artist Marco Cochrane with Bliss Dance, now in front of the MGM at Park Las Vegas. Image: MGM Resorts

[Update 3/13/16 11:55pm]

A reader has let us know that the reason the art grants have “increased” from $850k to $1.2m in the last couple of years is that the costs of The Man are now being lumped together with Art Honoraria grants.


 

[Update 3/13/16 5:42pm]

Here’s what BMOrg said last week:

Burning Man Arts is funding BRC art to the tune of $1.2 million this year, including these Honoraria recipients, as well as the sculptures, the bell towers, and the 33 Guild Workshops in the Piazza around the Man.

The sculptures? Meaning, The Man and his rotating clock frame? Or other sculptures as well as the Man and the Temple?

The $ are also funding blacksmithing collective Iron Monkeys, linked to BMOrg Board member Kay Morrison, to provide a functioning blacksmith shop in the desert:

There will even be a functioning, participatory blacksmith shop — the Piazza de Ferro — built by the Iron Monkeys. Sparks will fly!

What further indications do we have that the $1.2 million BRC art budget is funding The Man, as well as everything else listed and fractional funding of 60 art projects?

In the most recent financial information we have for the Burning Man Project (2014) the Man and platform can be found at the bottom: $407,055 for Cargo Cult and $237,581 for Fertility 2.0. It’s hard to imagine that 2014’s 120 foot-high Man cost much less than this to construct.

As you can see, in 2014 the Man and Platform are no longer being listed as a separate line item (Donations to Schools and Regionals have also disappeared). Are they office expenses? Contractors has risen $2 million from 2013 to 2014, neatly mirroring a drop in (estimated) profit after all expenses from $4 million to $2 million. Perhaps it could be hidden away in there – but, why?

2014 bmp comparison financials 2013 2013 burnersdotme 2

Party Like It’s Star Wars [Updates]

Image: Sharara, via Facebook

Image: Sharara, via Facebook

Star Wars. Desert camping. Talks on topics aligned with Leave No Trace and Self Reliance. A nod to the Davos World Economic Forum. Sharara, Arabic for “spark”, has it all…

Sharara desert camp-out festival @ the Star Wars site in the Tunisian Sahara (inaugural edition 1-3 April 2017) has a ShararaTech call for submissions that is open till 31 March 2016 on Water, Energy and Self-Reliance around the Mediterranean. Burners are welcome to participate.

This solution-based festival and geography anchored event (Sharara which stands for “Spark” in Arabic) was conceived by a lady entrepreneur who was selected by Davos WEF in 2002 as a Young Arab Leader for her role in creating the first venture capital fund in the Arab part of the Middle East. As a burner she, Amal Alayan could see long back, Sharara as an answer to a question raised by the Guardian recently with the title “What would it look like if Davos and Burning Man would have a baby?”. For a snap shot of Tatooine where Sharara will take place, check out this link. Leonardo Journal of MIT Press, Sharara publishing partner, plans to publish a special section on artworks participating in this event.

It’s an Art and Science festival. No word on if there will be DJs, or drinking, or any other kind of partying. They’re looking for art and tech talks.

Their publishing partner is the Leonardo International Society of the Arts, Sciences and Technology. Your art might get featured in MIT Press’s Leonardo Journal, which would be a nice gift to give your friends patrons at Da Vinci’s Workshop. Well, it would be except that this event won’t actually happen until 2017.

Tune in to Tunis.

First, they get a Google guy going over there to launch a social media-fuelled series of revolutions, using technology developed at Burning Man. It all literally began with a spark and a burning man, when a Tunisian man set himself on fire to kick off the protests – which at their peak in Tunisia were generating 2200 tweets per day.

Next step? Time for an Arab “spark: a Burning Man-like story”. Something futuristic, the best of the West, at Star Wars no less. Followed up with a bunch of venture capital flowing into the startup sector.

They have some heavyweight counter-culture tech credit behind them, with promotion from the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

What would it look like if Burning Man and Davos had a baby? Maybe it’s Sha-ra-ra

Participate here.

Check  out their inspiration.

From sharara.tech

ShararaTech Art & Science Mediterranean Festival (also known as Sharara Art, Science and Technology Mediterranean Festival) is an emergent desert camp-out festival that aims to travel on paths around the Mediterranean to celebrate creativity-for-change at the intersection of art, humanities, science and technology.
 
For the inaugural edition of ShararaTech, ShararaTech Challenge on Water, Energy and Self-Reliance is launched with a focus on decentralized water and energy solutions.
 
The festival aims to host desert installations of artistic intrigue and scientific novelty that can evoke holistic insights into new solutions and practices for mitigating difficulties of living around the Mediterranean. ShararaTech sees change rooted in reconnecting with nature, in communal self-reliance, in fostering socially and ecologically responsible entrepreneurship, and in the circularity of gifting and financial support for the creative process. 
 
Whenever possible, ShararaTech aims to include installations that fuse art and technology with self-referential poetics, myths, symbols and universal ethos that defined the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean and its surroundings.
 
From the Sahara where Transmedia and Communications Technology arguably provided non-violent Arab Spring with the tools necessary to bring down hierarchical and centralized ways of organizing that did not work, ShararaTech will be launched. The aesthetics of these decentralizing tools remain essential to celebrate within such a creativity-for-change festival in order to maximize the potential of access to information, learning, corrective feedback loops, creative circularity and alternative modes of self-organizing. 
 
While remaining open for the participation of many forms of creative expressions at the convergence of art, science and nature, ShararaTech will organize thematically on annual basis in liaison with its affiliates.
 
In  “springing” out of the Tunisian Sahara in 2016 with artistic manifestations of water and energy decentralized generation, distribution and storage solutions, ShararaTech hopes to be part of triggering a constructive 3.0 Revolution with futuristic visionary ways of living and creating on and around the Mediterranean.
 
ShararaTech Challenge on Water, Energy and Self-Reliance is intended as a catalytic process for crowdsourcing content for the inaugural edition of ShararaTech Art & Science Mediterranean Festival. A Call for Submissions for this challenge includes incentives in the way of potential noteworthy publishing in Leonardo Journal of MIT Press. Furthermore, a first award of up to $50k will be split between two selected water and/or energy novel submissions: one with the best fit for the Tunisian Sahara and one for Gaza. 
 
The Founding Partner of ShararaTech is Ibtikar Venture Partners LLC. The Publishing Partner of ShararaTech Art Festical is Leonardo International Society of the Arts, Sciences and Technology.
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Who’s behind this? An MIT-backed startup fund with ties to big pharma, that front-runs deals for blue chip financial syndicates. At least, that’s what they say:
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Ibtikar Venture Partners, LLC (“Ibtikar”) was co-founded in May 1999 by Amal Alayan and Omar Khudari as a Delaware limited liability company with a main base in Lexington, MA. Ibtikar leveraged its founding members’ links to MIT and Route 128 and their operating experience in the Middle East in pioneering venture capital investing in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA) and to syndicate its investments with blue chip businesses . Ibtikar made a number of early investments in Arab Internet start-ups when there were no more than 2M Internet users in MENA. In 2013 Ibtikar went through restructuring and a new member joined Ibtikar, Mohmmad Saffouri, a major shareholder of Al-Hikma, a leading MENA Pharmaceuticals company based out of Jordan. In 2013 Ibtikar sought, and on 25 September 2013 obtained, an approval from the Tunisian government on the organizing and the production of an international art, science and technology event in the Neck-of-the-Camel desert and in its adjacent George Lucas Star Wars Décor of Tatooine near Tozeur airport in the Tunisian Sahara. On 20 July 2015 the Tunisian newly elected government renewed this approval and confirmed its support.
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Leonardo/The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology (Leonardo/ISAST) is a nonprofit organization that serves the global network of distinguished scholars, artists, scientists, researchers and thinkers through programs focused on interdisciplinary work, creative output and innovation. From its beginnings, Leonardo/ISAST has served as the virtual community for purposes of networking, resource-sharing, best practices, research and events in Art/Science/Technology.

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Leonardo serves as critical content provider through their Publications Program — scholarly journals published by MIT Press (Leonardo and LMJ), the Leonardo Book Series (MIT Press), as well as the Leonardo family of websites and experimental projects on evolving digital platforms.http://www.leonardo.info
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Just like Stanford has its non-profit Defense contractor SRI International, MIT has its non-profit Defense contractor the MITRE corp. Wonder if they are involved in any of these projects? Maybe some of Reagan’s Star Wars will be out there mixing it up with George Lucas’ Star Wars – if they weren’t from the very beginning, anyway…

 

Screenshot 2016-03-06 11.53.03

Ronald Reagan writing about Star Wars and Bohemian Grove.       From Reagan: A Life in Letters by Kiron K Skinner

 


[Update 3/8/16 7:51am]

A Balanced Perspective has pointed us to the Dunes Electroniques festival, a rave that was recently held at the Star Wars site in Tunisia. More than 1000 security personnel were employed. Here is a great write-up of the event.

Yesterday, the President of Tunisia declared the country a war zone, after skirmishes with ISIS on the Libyan border:

“The majority of Tunisians are now in a state of war against barbarism,” he said from the capital, Tunis.

 

[Update 3/9/16 9:24am]

Amal Alayan, event organizer, says the President was incorrect in his statement that the majority of Tunisians are now in a state of war, and in fact the clashes are only in one town at the border area.

the closing line about the president of Tunisia making an announce that the whole country is declared “war zone ” is not true and hurt the people of Tunisia who r the only people in the region who made Arab Spring succeed. I am in Tunisia now and know for a fact that the war zone is in one town on the east south borders with Libya . I am going Friday as a woman on my own to the west south were out Star Wars site is and will be sending u a photo .. I ran ur article by the ministry of tourism earlier today and on your quote if their president , they said “he was not referring to the whole country”

I’m not sure who to believe: the President of Tunisia, the Minister of Tourism, or the event promoter. YMMV.

Although Ben Gardene, where 48 people were killed in an ISIS attack on Monday, is next to Tatouine, the festival site is on the other side of the country at Mos Espa

Although Ben Guerdane, where 53 people were killed in an ISIS attack on Monday, is next to Tataouine, the festival site is on the other side of the country at Mos Espa

 

Here is the current UK foreign travel advice for Tunisia. The PDF map is more detailed.

FCO 303 - Bangladesh Travel Advice [WEB]

The US State Department issued an updated Travel Advisory on Feb 29 2016.

The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of travel to Tunisia and recommends that U.S. citizens in Tunisia maintain a high level of vigilance following the February 19 U.S. airstrike targeting a Tunisian terrorist facilitator at a terrorist training camp in Libya near the Tunisian border. The Tunisian government has visibly augmented its security presence in recent months, but challenges persist.  This travel alert expires on March 31, 2016.

U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution in Tunisia when frequenting public venues visited by large numbers of foreigners, such as: hotels, shopping centers, tourist sites, and restaurants.  Two attacks in 2015 targeted tourists: the Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 and two beach hotels near Sousse on June 26.  ISIL claimed responsibility for both attacks.  U.S. citizens should also be alert in general to the possibility of kidnapping.

The general security advice for Tunisia and Algeria contains more details. Some highlights:
The Tunisian government officially designated the group Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T), a group with known anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiments, as a terrorist organization on August 27, 2013.  The Tunisian government continues security force operations against AAS-T, ISIL, and al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). While security forces have successfully foiled a number of attack plots, the potential threat posed by violent extremists in the country remains real…

Certain cities and governorates in Tunisia have a fluid and unpredictable security environment and travel to these areas require additional scrutiny before U.S. Government personnel may travel to them.  These include but are not limited to the geographical areas adjacent to the border with Algeria (Jendouba, Kef, Kasserine); the Libyan border (Ben Gardane and Medenine) and central Tunisia (Gafsa and Sidi Bou Zid). 

Travel to the Algerian border region (Jendouba, Kef, Kasserine) is only allowed for U.S. Government personnel if deemed mission essential, and should be avoided by U.S. citizens given the periodic security incidents along the border regions, including the Mount Chaambi area where security operations continue against armed extremists. 

Criminal Penalties:  You are subject to local laws.  If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.  Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Tunisia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  You may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you or if you take pictures of certain buildings.  Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.  If you break local laws in Tunisia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law.  For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

LGBTI Travelers:  Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Tunisia.  Penalties include sentences of up to three years in prison.  In February 2015, a Swedish man was sentenced to two years in prison, and in September 2015 a Tunisian man was sentenced to one year in prison for violating Tunisia’s law against consensual same-sex sexual relations.  See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our  Human Rights report for further details.

Tunisia’s President extended the country’s State of Emergency until Feb 21, 2016.  It is not clear what the current state is.

It’s still a year until the event. Hopefully world peace will be achieved by then.

FCS Tries to Make Amends with Free Camp Placement Service

fcs_facebook-665x375

In the past couple of years there have been some mixed messages from BMOrg about Commodification Camps. On the one hand, Larry Harvey writes a big post saying “concierges are here to stay!”, and creates a theme based on rich patronage of the arts. On the other hand, the BJ says “concierges are banned!”, and singles out one organization in particular: Festivals Concierge Service.

They have just released a statement to the Burner community. emphasis ours

A Message to the Burning Man community

 

Dear Friends,

Dear Burners,

As the CEO of FCS – and a committed member of the BM community – I feel compelled to make a statement to the Burner community.

While I fully understand and support Burning Man’s discontent with plug-and-play camps and commodification, I feel there is a misconception about what we do (and do not do) for our clients at Burning Man. Further, I feel we have been unfairly singled out as a poster child for BM support services, as there are a number of other companies providing assistance to both participants and camps on the playa.

With FCS, our primary intention is to help shift the consciousness of our first-time Burner clients. We encourage them to truly embody the culture and spirit of Burning Man. We guide them through the philosophy of Burning Man, with particular focus on the 10 principles and the need to protect and foster the community. We do this because we are passionate and committed Burners ourselves, and we have seen the positive and life changing influence Burning Man can have on our clients; many leave the week with a profound shift in consciousness and seek more community experiences and opportunities to make positive change in the world. Many of the clients we help get to Burning Man return each year and we continue to assist them in their logistics and preparation for their Burn.

 

We have never – and will never – offer an all-inclusive Burning Man experience.

We have only facilitated travel and logistics for our clients. That’s it.

FCS offers:

 

  1. GUEST CAMP PLACEMENT

 

We help our clients to have the best possible Burning Man experience – and placement in the right camp is critical to this, as any experienced burner can attest.

We will now offer assistance with camp placement as a gift to the community; not just to our clients but also for any other Burner who may need this help.

No fee is charged for this service.

  1. ON-SITE SERVICES

 

We do not offer any on-site services. We do not hire Sherpas for our clients.

Services related to RVs and trailers are provided by our suppliers directly or by the camps. We contract only Burning Man Outside Services Program (OSS) selected partners, and our providers pay the various BLM and Burning Man taxes. This is common practice across Black Rock City.

  1. OFF-SITE SERVICES

 

All services that we provide prior to and post the event (e.g. costumes, transport, accommodation) cannot be considered as contributing to the commodification of Burning Man as they are provided outside of Black Rock City and are part of the overall experience for all burners.

Further, we deeply encourage our clients to limit those services to the basics necessity to survive on the Playa.

  1. TICKETS

 

We will no longer buy tickets on behalf of our clients.

We continue to encourage them to buy through the pre-sales and other BM tickets releases. We are not a ticket broker.

  1. ART SUPPORT

 

We encourage our clients to contribute to the community by directly assisting or building an art project or though sponsoring a project with financial contributions.

We guide our clients through this process and connect them with the projects that best fit their interests and budget.

  1. GIFTING

 

Gifting on the playa is an essential part of the culture at Burning Man. When working with our first-time Burners to encourage them to use their creativity to find their own personal gifts and embrace the spirit of unconditional gifting throughout the week – and hopefully this continues long after BM.

With love,

Antoine Sepulchre

CEO / Founder

Burners on Reddit weren’t exactly jumping on the offer.

What should we do with members of the community who acknowledge the error of their ways, amend them and try to gift something decent as an apology? Should we publicly shame them, hate them, persecute them – all in the name of Radical Inclusion? Or should we accept the apology, and move on with having a good time?

Here’s the email that BRC Boss Charlie Dolman sent to theme camp organizers and mutant vehicle owners:

From: Placement 
Date: Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 3:28 PM
Subject: Festivals Concierge Services (FCS) & Burning Man 2016

Dear Theme Camp/Mutant Vehicle producers –

Last year, a company called Festivals Concierge Services (FCS) advertised concierge camping and travel package services at the Burning Man event. We informed FCS it was not permitted to operate at our event and published a blog post (http://journal.burningman.org/2015/05/philosophical-center/tenprinciples/kicking-concierge-caboose-in-black-rock-city) to notify participants. Although FCS denied it would be providing services, its CEO (Antoine Sepulchre) and another employee (Florence Defort) were found to be doing exactly that, which led to their citation by BLM and eviction from the 2015 Burning Man event for unpermitted commercial activities. We also learned FCS made deals with a small number theme camps to host FCS clients for a price.

Although we have already informed FCS it will not be permitted to provide services to Black Rock City in 2016, we understand the company has begun marketing Burning Man travel packages again and contacting air carriers and OSS vendors. The FCS website claims the company “collaborates with Burning Man Outside Services Program selected partners.” We have let established OSS providers know that providing services to concierge companies like FCS will subject their OSS contracts to cancellation, as these companies directly circumvent the principles underlying the OSS program.

If you, or your OSS provider, are contacted by any representative of FCS or anyone identifying themselves as an FCS client, we ask that you please let us know. In keeping with Burning Man’s Ten Principles, we do not want theme camps or mutant vehicle owners to support concierge camping or travel package services. That includes hosting FCS clients or providing services like access to mutant vehicles. Collaborating with FCS could certainly compromise your good standing with Burning Man, including access to directed group tickets, placement, and mutant vehicle licensing.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have regarding the policy outlined in this message. We can be reached by email at 

Sincerely,

Charlie Dolman
Event Operations Director
Burning Man

If you want to ban concierges, then ban concierges. Singling out one company, and turning a blind eye to the dozens of others, is not Civic Responsibility.

Here’s Larry’s big post on Concierge Culture.

Scan Burning Man’s Ten Principles, and you will not find radical equality among them. This is because our city has always been a place where old and young, and rich and poor, can live on common ground. The word for this is fellowship, as in the fellowship of a club or lodge whose members, however diverse, are united by common values and a sense of shared experience. But common ground is not a level playing field, and should not be interpreted as mandating equal living conditions.

This issue of equality almost amounts to a straw man. I do not believe that most people would want to live in a city that is the equivalent of a Marxist State, a place in which the prying eyes of envious neighbors are forever trained upon one.

Here’s the current BJ series on how the correct model for the arts is wealthy patrons like in the days of Leonardo Da Vinci.

Here’s how a corporation is selling an all-inclusive Burning Man package tour experience, which is the exception that proves the rule.

BMOrg are trying to expand the airport, with bigger planes bringing in an additional 1000 passengers per day.

We want wealthy patrons, paying $1299 per ticket…but they can’t bring sherpas or pay people off-Playa to shop and pack for them? Or they can – as long as they have sufficient Borg points that the rules no longer apply?

 

Walking the Talk – New “Democratic” Process for Art Grants

BMOrg are introducing a “democratic” grant process for funding art grants, something the community has long been demanding. They have some funny ideas about participatory democracy, though.
Attendees at the Global Leadership Conference will vote on how to allocate a total of $1500 to art. The conference is invite only, and not open to the public. And artists will need to go through their local RC (Regional Contact…although in Australia RC means something else, more suited to this year’s Medici theme).

“Walk the Talk” Art Grant for GLC 2016

What is this grant?

A democratic grant process aimed at funding innovative community art projects within the Burning Man Global Network.  We are interested in projects that create collaborations, break down the distinction between audience and artist, are directly interactive and/or enhance the public, civic sphere.

Participants in a session at the annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference will award a total of $1,500 however they wish among any qualified projects. This is meant to both serve as an exercise in structuring and judging a grant opportunity as well as a way to provide a small amount of support and encouragement to worthy projects.

Timeline:

–  Deadline for grant submissions is March 25th. (Midnight U.S. Pacific Time)
–  Judges will review the grants at the 2016 Global Leadership Conference (March 31st- April 3rd)
–  Winner(s) will be announced Sunday afternoon at the GLC.  (April 3rd)

Apply Here 

Who is eligible to apply?

Individuals, Groups, and Not-for-Profits are all eligible to apply.  All projects *must* be endorsed by a local Burning Man Regional Contact.   The RC does not need to be heavily involved with the process, but rather they will serve as a point of communication between the granters and the grantees.

To find out who your Regional Contact might be, see  http://regionals.burningman.org/

How much can I request?

The total amount of grants given will be $1,500. This amount could go to one project or be split among two or more, so it might be helpful to explain what you would do with the full amount as well as how you would use a smaller amount.

[Source: burningman.org]

Here are the conference details. I’m sure if you buy a Leonardo VIP ticket (on sale now for $1200) and kiss a few of the the right rings they’ll let you attend.
.
SF, CA March 31 – April 03, 2016

The 10th annual Burning Man Global Leadership Conference (GLC) is an annual conference of Burning Man community leadership that happens each spring in San Francisco. From humble beginnings in 2007, where 70 Regional Contacts joined us at Burning Man HQ, the GLC has since grown to include over 400 participants from around the world.

These highly-energized folks are Burning Man’s global representatives and community leaders, ambassadors of Burning Man culture in their regions who throw any of 65 Regional events in 20 countries. They participate in the GLC to share ideas, best practices and inspiration, and to make the invaluable face-to-face connections that may just lead to the next big thing.

The conference is for organizers and community leaders in the Burning Man Regional Network, and space is limited, so attendance isn’t open to the public

[Source: burningman.org]

Those of us not on the list will be able to participate by reading Tweets from the Chosen Few in attendance to see Larry dressed up as a worm, a guy with a slinky in his beard, and other hilarity. We might get to watch a few select sessions on YouTube.

In other news…
You can buy tickets to the Burnal Equinox – Night of a Thousand Guilds on March 19 at Public Works for $20.

Congratulations to Piper from Distrikt who is thrilled to be the latest member of Burning Man’s Communications team. Is she filling in the clown shoes left by departing Minister for Propaganda Will Chase? We shall see…

Screenshot 2016-02-18 17.00.16