Support Mid Burn Art [Updates]

midburn all seeing eye of horus hand of godIsrael’s Midburn needs help getting art out to the desert. I guess the Israelis couldn’t figure out how to make enough money from a sold out event, to actually get the art to it! Tickets cost 490 shekels, which is US$140. They sold 2000 of them, which is US$280,000.

In addition to this, they’ve raised $75,000 from the Israeli community. They still need another $18,000 – or $9 from each person attending. So far they have raised $211 of the $18,000 they’re looking for. What happens if they don’t get more? Will this first-time event be art-free? For some reason their Indiegogo runs for a month after the event, which happens in 9 days.

Caveat emptor, Burners…remember this is the Middle Eastern bazaar.

We hear Maid Marian is attending, let’s hope she (and her multi-million dollar non-profit  Burner culture spreading .ORG) are donating too. $18k doesn’t seem like much to spread Burner culture to a giant segment of the globe, with the first ever Middle Eastern burn.

From Mid-Burner Rachel:

20140521063253-Copy_of_Shavout-003What can I say – you have a sweet blog, and write about Burning Man …which is why I’m reaching out to you.  As part of Israel’s first Burning Man Festival- Midburn- My fellow Burners and I working hard to raise money to support artists contributing to the Midburn Art Project.

Here’s a link to our website:

20140521062401-2hand_of_inspiration_-_Sharon_AvrahamWe already have over 30 artists and art projects underway for our festival this June, but we need to raise a bit more money to ensure that all this artwork makes it to the festival and beyond!

Here is the link to our Indiegogo campaign:–2

midburn machine shop 2014It would mean the world to us if you could write a short blog post about our Indiegogo Campaign- or about our event in general.   Of course, we’d love you to donate too :), but we really need your help in spreading the world.

I cannot express how grateful I am to you for reading these words.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to thank you in person at the next burning man festival.

Burn On!


[Update: 5/25/14] Rachel has contacted us to ask us to change this post. I’m not sure which part she has a problem with – it seems accurate enough. Her explanation sheds further light on the funding compromises the organizers were forced to make, without support from BMOrg. She answers our question: yes, they’re not going to bring much of the art to the event unless they raise these extra funds – even though it is located close by. Apparently the reason the Israeli’s can’t pay the artists from their sold-out event is they underestimated what things cost in Israel. The fences have to be higher and the generators have to be bigger. Emphasis ours.

Please allow me to explain the campaign, it’s timing and expenses, so that you might consider changing what you wrote in your post, since we’ve seen it take a very negative toll already. 

1) Campaign timing
As this is our first ever burning man, we had to make estimations about how much money we would need to cover the event at the beginning.  Unfortunately, we ran into budget issues late in the game, and our artists are sadly the ones who we see need money the most. If we don’t get money to cover expenses, some art will not be able to make it to midburn (despite its proximity) and many artists will be in large debtIt will also take a toll on our desire to support the project in the future. So yes, the timing is unfortunate, but it was necessary.

2) Expenses: 
Israel is extremely expensive – at least 2x more expensive than the States. As we’re off in the middle east, surrounded by countries we have poor trade with, all supplies that might be considered to be cheap in the states are quite expensive here. This means that the money that we do have, doesn’t go nearly as far as you might think.

3) Security requirements: 
Israel has unbelievably strict security requirements. 
For Example: Only very specific and expensive generators can be used according to law. Gas requirements also leave us with far more expensive equipment than is required in the US. Lighting is extremely strict and requires way more lighting than would ever be required in the states. Fencing is also extremely strict- we have to invest in building a massive fencing encasing in order to get approval from the law. 

For all of these reasons and more we are running the campaign despite the timing, and despite the money we’ve already succeeded in bringing in

Perhaps Midburn would’ve been better to rent the fencing and lighting and generators for their first time event, rather than taking the cash windfall from the sold out show and “investing” in this gear. That way, they could still pay the artists, make profit for themselves, and charge even more for tickets next year. It seems like a mere $10 price rise on the tickets would have made the event profitable, not bad for a first effort. Coachella didn’t make money for years.

According to Haaretz, the promoters weren’t expecting the event to be so popular – it is now the third largest Burning Man event in the world:

We did not expect such a massive response, especially as we chose not to publicize the event,” admits Nir Eden, one of the organizers, who works as a logistics manager for a fashion chain. “There are about 300 people working nonstop on the Midburn festival. You have to understand, it involves building a temporary city.”…Midburn organizers claim theirs has quickly become the third-largest Burning Man-type festival in the world, behind the original in the U.S. (70,000 participants) and one in Africa (8,000 participants). 15 trucks and two shipping containers full of equipment will be brought down to the desert, along with installations and artworks created by 40 different groups. Midburn has a foundation supporting its artwork, which has granted 150,000 shekels to the artists. Eden, a perennial guest at Burning Man, says he has gladly spent tens of thousands of his own shekels on the festival. Representatives from the World Burning Man have recently arrived in Israel to declare the country one of the seven official areas where the festival is held.

Rachel confirmed that Midburn does have to pay a licensing fee to Decommodification LLC. This conflicts with the recent opinion of nay-sayers here. It also conflicts with Midburn founder (and BMOrg official contact) Rei Dishon, who says in the comment shared by Nomad below that they are not paying BMOrg any fees.

I know none of these people and am not attending the event, I have no dog in this fight and no axe to grind. I couldn’t tell you if both were authorized founders, or neither was, all I know is we now have two different people involved with two different stories. Let’s hope the truth gets out, we welcome everyone who has knowledge of the situation to come forward and tell us what is really going on behind the scenes. In my time I have met a fairly wide variety of party promoters around the globe, some successful, some only sporadically so. I’ve done business in the Middle East before, and have run into all kinds of “bazaar” situations in that part of the world. It’s no surprise to encounter two people who claim to be insiders and founders, but have completely different views about what is going on. Somewhere in this souk, agreements get made, things get worked out so everybody can move forwards, usually with everyone grumbling about something but getting enough to make it worthwhile. I have never been to Israel, but Burning Man’s Social Alchemist Bear Kittay told me “you’d love it. It’s just like Burning Man. People stop their cars in the middle of the street and get out and dance”.  Burners will need to make up their own minds about what is actually going on in Israel with Burning Man’s first ever official (or is it?) Middle Eastern regional.

Rachel’s claims that they messed up the budget because “we didn’t know things in Israel cost twice as much as the US” and “there are all these stricter regulations in Israel”, are called into question by reports that Midburn have been throwing Burning Man Regional events since 2012 – complete with art cars, a Man and Temple to burn, MOOP, Center Camp, costumes, gifting. The only difference here appears to be licensing the Burning Man name. Official affiliation doesn’t seem to have brought Midburn much, especially since they did not even have to publicize the event to sell all the tickets in advance.

Hopefully the Burning Man Project will step up and supply what’s needed to reimburse the artists and get the art to Midburn. It’s a chance for them to do something meaningful with that money – what better cause than the first Middle Eastern Burn, in the year that we have a Middle Eastern theme? It’s also a chance for BMOrg to demonstrate to the international Burner community that their charity cares more about Art than it does about The Founders Speaking. The $18,000 would be less than 0.1% of the Burning Man gate take (it’s 47 tickets), and about 4% of BMOrg’s annual travel budget. They’re a non-profit, they want to spread Burner culture around the world, and they’re going to get royalties back from this one which is the second biggest…so what’s the problem? Why wouldn’t BMOrg want to support the Midburn artists? Or invest in the fencing, lighting, and generator infrastructure that burns in the region require, so that the promoters can pay the artists instead of having to keep all this sophisticated equipment, which would only be used once a year.

If Burners donate to the Burning Man Project, is the money going to flow through to the artists, to get their art to Midburn? Or will it go to BMOrg personnel for first class international travel to the rave?

Burners who want to help out in the Middle East may also consider spending their dollars healing the damage done by fences, instead of putting up new ones.


Israeli Burning Man Sold Out

Midburn” is a play on the Hebrew word for desert. It’s the first Burning Man regional in the Middle East. The rave takes place in the trance-central Negev from June 3-7 2014, and is being put on by a non-profit Israeli branch of the Burning Man Project.

From Haaretz:

midburn man

photo: Sharon Avraham

An Israeli version of the Burning Man festival will take place in the Negev desert from June 3 to 7, marking a culmination of two years of preparing and building up a community around the event.

The original, American Burning Man, which is held in a Nevada desert each summer, is a now-wildly popular festival of art, music, and alternative culture. Burning Man’s principle of “radical self-expression,” together with its principles of giving freely from your provisions, its public art installations and the use of bartering in the temporary city of up to 50,000 imbue the festival with an element of survival, which makes it unusual in the festival world. Granted, participants bring to the desert all the food and equipment their vehicles can carry.

midburn bender

photo: Sharon Avraham

The Israeli version, put on by a registered non-profit that’s the Israeli branch of the American organization, began taking shape in recent years. It has previously held small-scale events in the spirit of Burning Man, fostered by a community of volunteers and artists. Israel’s five-day long Midburn (a play on midbar, the Hebrew word for “desert”) this year, will be run according to the principles of the American original. The festival is now sold out with all 2,000 tickets claimed.