The Halcyon Principle

Burning Man has gathered 100 of the leading thinkers in the Burner community at Occult Base Esalen, to try to come up with some ideas about increasing revenue Sustainable Creative Communities.

[Download their 70-page discussion paper here, thanks Dispatch]

Think you’re cool for buying Leonard Da Vinci tickets for triple the price? Are you on the Burner100 list? No? Well, you might have to up your Gifting game if you want to swing with the Big Playa Players. If you kiss the right asses they might even name a Principle after you.

Halcyon with his dad, Bob Weir. Image: BJ

Halcyon with his dad, Bob Weir. Image: BJ

Pink Jesus, aka John Halcyon Styn, raised the radical idea that what used to make the art at Burning Man so magical was that people created it for free to share with each other. So paying artists could be Commodification.

He was roundly shot down by the group, but after breakaway sessions they came back with the idea that not paying artists was excellent, and they could blame it on him: aka “The Halcyon Principle”.

Gifting is the answer the everything. Or my answer, at least. Over and over at the conference, I brought the conversation back to Gifting. While there is so much magic happening in the Burning Man movement, I think the core of it is in Gifting.
A) It teaches us to receive joy from giving joy.

B) It helps us to start seeing ourselves as having talents and art of our own to share.

Shifting people’s from self-identity from “consumer” to “creator” is world-changing.
I spoke up on the first day and questioned a line of thought by reminding people that, while I want to get artists paid, I am more passionate about making sure the art remains a gift. I said I was transformed by that first awareness that all this amazing stuff on the playa was created — not for financial reasons — but purely to blow my mind. It created an energetic surplus in me that made me want to give back to this place and community for the rest of my life. There was a quick rebuttal to what I said and I instantly regretted speaking up. Maybe I am too naive for this conversation I thought. I shouldn’t be here.

But the next day, someone approached me and thanked me for saying something. Then another. Then a breakout group told me that they had a long conversation about what they were calling “The Halcyon Principle” based on what I had said.

A surreal highlight of the week (that was already a highlight of my life) was having Maid Marian, CEO of Burning Man, write “Halcyon Principle” on the whiteboard during the final Symposium wrap-up.

It’s not about paying artists! We can just give them hugs! Remember the Halycon Principle!

Read the full article here.

I’m not knocking Halcyon, he makes some good points and he has been kind enough to write guest posts here. Forgive me for being cynical about groupthink and congruency between words and actions, but I’ve been writing about BMorg for almost 5 years now. The ratio keeps growing, in the wrong direction. More people at the off-site symposia and invite-only conferences, more TED talks and panel discussions, lots of people being flown all around the world for words; less visible actions promoting art or making the world a better place. Who cares about which gender Burners identify with, buy some kids a skate park or a library.

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This collective experiment in temporary community has owned Fly Ranch for half a year, and Burners are mobile and self-reliant even in harsh conditions. Especially the Top 100 of them. Yet somehow the future of Flysalen needed to be plotted in the acid-laced hot tubs of Esalen, rather than the oil drilling byproduct hot springs of Fly Ranch.

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest


Being on the boards of both Esalen and the Burning Man Project, Chip Conley swings both ways. Image: Fest300

Being on the boards of both Esalen and the Burning Man Project, Chip Conley swings both ways. Image: Fest300

For $6.5 million They could have bought a lot, and done a lot. At Esalen it’s $900 for no accommodation or a sleeping bag and $1300 for a dormitory bunk bed; if a couple wants their own room it’s more than five grand. At these rates they might as well just have their symposium at Caravancicle or White Ocean. Was this a pay-to-plug-n-play deal, or did Halcyon and 99 others get comped? Where does your ticket money go?

The 2014 Afterburn report claims a total of 896 paid employees. Obviously at least 90% of them didn’t get invited to the Esalen symposium. There are about 100 year-round staff on the Burning Man web site, wonder what percentage of them got to attend?  The last payroll figure we have for the Burning Man Project is for 2014, $7,485,059 (plus another $3,441,179 in contractors). So one week of the Burning Man Project’s time is around $150k of salaries. For $150k I will give them a vision, I’m sure it will be better and easier to implement than whatever the Burner100 came up with.

Image: Esalen.org

[Source: Esalen.org]


Conclusion

100 people had a bunch of ideas and told each other how great they were…for a whole frikking week. Were there hugsies involved? Some form of Orange cordial, perhaps?

I got in the tubs twice. Most people were in there as much as possible. I spent much more time standing on the cliffs looking out at the jagged coast

Sounds productive. Vision 3.0. Coming soon.

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A camel is a horse designed by a committee

 

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Making Sense of the Non-Census [Update]

There’s something strange in our neighborhood. The Black Rock City Census has morphed beyond a mildly useful planning tool, into a full-scale weapon of social engineering.

The big question is, WHY?

This week I went on the UnSpun show to discuss some of the High Weirdness of this year’s Census.

The Census dates back to the land of Babylon, home of the tower of Babel. The first one we know about was conducted by Nimrod.

The census is older than the Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations, dating back to the Babylonians in 4000 BC who used a census as an essential guide to how much food they needed to find for each member of the population. Evidence suggests that they noted census records on clay tiles – an example is held by the British Museum….

The Romans conducted censuses every five years, calling upon every man and his family to return to his place of birth to be counted in order to keep track of the population. Historians believe that it was started by the Roman king Servius Tullius in the 6th century BC, when the number of arms-bearing citizens was counted at 80,000. The census played a crucial role in the administration of the peoples of an expanding Roman Empire, and was used to determine taxes. It provided a register of citizens and their property from which their duties and privileges could be listed.

[Source]

The Daily Telegraph tells us what the point of all this was:

IN Babylon in about 3800BC a team of men headed out to tally up the numbers of men, women, children, livestock, slaves, butter, milk, honey and vegetables in the kingdom. The primary reason was to figure out how much food was needed to feed the population, but the figures also gave an idea of how many men were available for military service and how much they could be taxed without starving them.

[Source]

Maximization of taxation. Well, the Burning Man Census has always asked “how much money do you make” – and ticket prices have gone up accordingly. The decision to split ticket prices into “pay more if you can afford it” and “Early Bird discount” tiers was made after the first Black Rock City Census, in 2001. The prices have been steadily climbing ever since.

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As Burning Man grew, so did the questions in the Census (here’s the 2015 results, 32 pages). At first, it was the usual stuff – where do you live, how much do you make. Later questions seemed strange given Burning Man’s principle of Radical Inclusion: are you religious, are you LGBT – what difference does that make? Surely if you can be accepted without prejudice anywhere, it’s Burning Man. Why bother asking? It’s 2016, we’re well into the 21st century, do people even care about this stuff any more?

Well, people at BMorg certainly seem to. Things have been taken to a new level this year, and it is obvious that the so-called “Census” is not being used to gather information to make the party better for Burners.

This year’s Census takes 30-45 minutes to complete. It is mostly multi-choice answers, but with “conditional” choices – if you choose some options, then hidden questions are revealed to you. For example, if you say you live in Canada, a box pops up asking for your Zip Code. If you say you are eligible to vote in the US, you get a string of questions about which elections you voted in and what your party is.

Straight away, this makes the data in this sample completely different from any paper Census done on-Playa. Why not just ask all Burners the same simple questions? Surely that would give more useful information?

The main Census is being conducted by Dr Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost, Playa name “Hunter”. He is a Professor of Sexology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) – about as far from Black Rock City as you can get and still be on the North American continent. One section has additional questions from the “Burning Geeks”. When you get to the end, it asks you if you would like to help the Burning Geeks out further. If you say YES, you are taken to another survey, this one conducted by Oxford University, Maid Marian’s alma mater.

Scientists on the other side of the world are also studying Burners. For what purpose?

The questions themselves give an indication that this is not at all about a Live Entertainment event, a week long arts festival, or even an experimental city. This is about Social Engineering and psychological profiling.

The surveys claim to be anonymous, but you should be aware that they at least have your IP address. If you have ever posted anything at EPlaya or the BJ, created a Burner Profile, or sent an email to the Org (perhaps to sign up for Jack Rabbit Speaks) this information could be used to identify you. They may also be able to get your email address, computer name or phone number from browser cookies. The Oxford survey specifically asks for your email address at the end, and although it says “the information you provide is completely confidential” there is no actual definition of what that means, or who the information gets shared with. It appears to be people from multiple Universities around the world who have signed their confidentiality agreement.

I’m not going to go through all the questions of both Censuses, a 90-minute odyssey. I will just highlight a few questions that we will specifically talk about here, for non-profit educational purposes.

Take the Census here – you can see all the questions without submitting it.

[Update 10/2/16 6:21pm] In the interests of readibility, I have moved the question analysis to the end of the post]


 

What is Being Collected?

The way these questions are worded and the use of terms either entirely made up, or used by a mere fraction of society, seems designed to skew the Census results. Those who can be bothered going all the way through to the end, writing at length about what The Principles mean to them, become the new demographic face of Burning Man.

If they are not gathering useful information that accurately represents the population, then what, exactly, are They gathering? And for whom?

We should assume that the data includes an IP address. Even if the Quebec and Oxford surveys are not specifically linked with a cookie or token, this information is enough to connect the two submissions. From the IP address they can find out where you are, sometimes with frightening accuracy. Anyone who gets this data – which surely must include BMorg – knows this:

  • your email address
  • camp address
  • the initials of 20 of your friends
  • how close you are to those friends
  • your annual income
  • how many people in your household, and their income
  • your race, and how you feel about it
  • your religion
  • your sexuality – a great deal about it, unless like 97.7% of the US population you are heterosexual
  • if you swing
  • how many countries you have been to
  • what languages you speak
  • how you make moral judgements
  • how you make decisions
  • what effects you emotionally

Although I am not an expert on statistics, I have read a book or two about history. I feel confident saying that there has never been any Census in the last 6000+ years that has gathered such information on its citizens.

How does Black Rock City get better if I am a Two-Spirit Genderqueer who hides my feelings when I’m hostile? Shouldn’t Radical Inclusion mean these things are irrelevant to someone’s participation? This so-called Census makes it seem that these, and having a “transformational experience” that alters your personality, are in fact very important at Burning Man. If they’re not important to you, don’t go.

Who Gets This Information?

I think it would be safe to assume that in addition to the two main Universities, the Burning Man Project gets the data from these two quizzes. In fact, the fine print to the official (Quebec) Census says the Burning Man Project uses this data in planning the event and interacting with authorities from the Federal government and the State of Nevada. The data is individually numbered and coded, shared with “research assistants and collaborators” who have signed a confidentiality agreement, and kept indefinitely.

One section of the survey is by the “Burning Nerds”. This group of academics who study Burning Man was formed in 2010 at Ashram Galactica, the camp of Burning Man Project board member Mercedes Martinez and her husband, former Project director Chris Weitz (whose dad was in the OSS, precursor to the CIA). They’re still operating out of Ashram Galactica, this year’s events were:

  • Sex on the Playa!  (Tuesday, Aug. 30, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.) – The psychology and data sets of sex, sexual communities, and sexual risk at Burning Man.
  • Transformative Experiences! (Wednesday, August 31st, 1:00. – 2:00 p.m.) – The Psychology and Philosophy of transformative experiences at Burning Man.
  • Diversity on the Playa! (Thursday, September 1st, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.) – Hear the latest in quantitative data and qualitative analysis from the Census team about diversity in Black Rock City.
  • Data Release Party! (Friday, September 2, 2:30 -3:30 p.m.)  – Be the first to hear about the results of BRC Census’ 2016 Random Sampling, and ask questions.

[Source]

Despite the workshop commentary, there were no questions about sexual risk in the 2016 Census.

So does anyone in the Burning Nerds get to see the raw data? Or are there only a certain few? Who decides? What about the Org? Can the IT people access the databases? Larry Harvey? Bear Kittay? What about students at the California Institute for Integral Studies doing the 3-unit course “Art and Survival: Radical Creation at Burning Man” – are they part of the Burning Nerds?

Earlier this year the Burning Nerds gave their first report about The Transformation Project:

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Note the distortion in the presentation of this data: “I did not have a transformational experience” is not even shown on this chart.

The BJ post accompanying this chart revealed the identity of just some of the players behind this:

Molly Crockett is an Associate Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford studying the psychology and neurobiology of altruism and morality. Find out more at her lab website.

S. Megan Heller (playa name: Countess) is a psychological anthropologist studying adult play and transformation at Burning Man, and particularly the role of play in healthy adult development and mental well being. She is a researcher working at the UCLA Center for Health Services and Society. Find out more at her website.

Kateri McRae (playa name: Variance) is an affective scientist who is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Denver. She studies emotion regulation and other emotion cognition interactions using self-report, psychophysiology and functional neuroimaging. Find out more at her lab website.

Daniel Yudkin is a doctoral candidate in Social Psychology at New York University and a jazz musician. He is fascinated by all topics related to human behavior, including how people compare themselves to others, explore new spaces, and make moral decisions. Find out more at his website.

Annayah Prosser is the Lab Manager for the Crockett Lab at the University of Oxford, and a third year undergraduate student studying Psychology at the University of Bath.

Alek Chakroff is an experimental psychologist studying moral judgment and behavior using methods from social psychology, behavioral economics, and cognitive neuroscience. See more at his research website.

UCLA, Oxford, Bath, NYU, UNC Chapel Hill, Notre Dame and the Universities of Denver and Quebec might seem like quite a few groups around the world with a keen interest in Burners. Our 2012 story on the Burning Nerds adds Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Essex, Florida, Victoria, and Royal Roads to the list of Universities behind the Black Rock Census.

And this is just a fraction of the academic studies related to Burning Man:

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There’s more detail about academics on the official web site.

We have been going down this path for a while. In 2013, “Psypost” brought us a story about how the University of Denver studied 16,227 Burners over 4 years:

I think the most striking thing that this study demonstrates is that emotion regulation can change due to sociocultural context far more quickly than previously reported,” Kateri McRae of the University of Denver, the lead author, told PsyPost. “Most previous research focuses on culture as defined by long-standing shared values and norms (and compare groups like those living on mainland China to those living in the U.S.), and the fact that we see similar changes when people attend an event for a week is very cool.”

“To me, that indicates that how we regulate our emotions in accordance with social norms is a very dynamic process. Another way to think about it is that ‘culture’ might be something that is much more local and changeable than we previously thought…

So the paradox of Burning Man is that people are more open, less inhibited when expressing their emotions, but also more thoughtful in terms of reframing, reconsidering or reevaluating their emotions (which is what reappraisal entails).

Read the full paper from the Journal of Frontiers in Psychology.

Hello! Earth to Academics! THESE PEOPLE ARE ON DRUGS. If you do not disclose or even consider that then your study is completely worthless scientifically.

“All these young people took Molly at a rave. Then they reported feeling more positive, with a heightened sense of emotion. Therefore, that was caused by the rave”

picard-got-to-be-kidding

 

And speaking of Molly…meet Dr Molly Crockett, who received a grant from the Templeton Foundation to study Burning Man.

Would love to see what this gal looks like in her Playawear – if she’s even a Burner, that is. This is not just some Oxford undergraduate working on a quirky thesis, she has a whole lab named after her and a team of assistants.

Follow The Money

One of the maxims in shadow history research is “follow the money”. So who’s paying for all this? And how much?

The Templeton Foundation has awarded Dr. Molly Crockett a two-year grant to investigate the topic ‘Transformative Prosocial Experiences’.
The project is associated with The Experience Project (the-experience-project.org), a $4.8 million, three-year initiative at the University of Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The project explores the nature and philosophical implications of lived experiences that transform our epistemic perspectives.  Here is a decsription of the proposed research:

Can people become more generous, cooperative and kind through transformative experiences? If so, how can people pursue and achieve these experiences? This research will study in detail a natural setting commonly associated with prosocial transformation: the Burning Man festival. The project will combine qualitative and quantitative approaches to examine the psychological mechanisms of prosocial transformations, how individuals’ expectations for transformation influence prosocial outcomes, and how people decide whether to pursue prosocial transformation. Finally, the new research will investigate what situational features are sufficient for inducing transformative prosocial experiences. Past research on prosociality suggests three key factors that may contribute to prosocial transformation: a moneyless economy; prosocial goals; and a festive atmosphere. The research team will perform a comparative analysis of events that share some, but not all, features of Burning Man, to isolate those that contribute most to transformative prosocial experiences. In doing so, this work will provide practical advice for those who desire prosocial transformation.

[Source]

The beneficiary of this research is not the participants themselves, but “those who desire prosocial transformation”…in other words, Social Engineers – and the oligarchs who employ them. That’s who wants to spend $4.8 million to figure this stuff out. Dr Crockett’s earlier studies in “experimental” psychology at Cambridge were funded by a scholarship from Bill Gates.

anglo-american-establishmentProfessor Carroll Quigley, who taught politics to Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton at Georgetown University, described how Oxford and Cambridge are used by British Intelligence for recruitment and propaganda in his book The Anglo-American Establishment.

In May this year, it was disclosed in the BJ that the 2015 Census was funded by the Templeton Foundation. The Institute for Study of Globalization and Covert Politics talks about Templeton’s ties to occult base Esalen in their article on Grass Roots Organizations, the New Left and the Liberal CIA. In his 1983 autobiography Timothy Leary said “the liberal CIA is the best mafia you can deal with”.

John Templeton Jr was the CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments, who camp with the CIA at Bohemian Grove’s most exclusive camp Mandalay, which even has its own cable car:

Mandalay    This camp is only accessible with a written permission. It is the most exclusive bunk site in the encampment and sits on a hill with a tiny cable car that carries visitors up to the compound. Many members of this camp have personal assistants with them.
Lot’s of government, Bank of America, Amoco, ChevronTexaco, Bechtel, Wackenhut, Du Pont, Rothschild Investment Trust Capital Partners plc., UBS Warburg LLC, Dillon Read & Co., German Steel Trust, Thyssen Krupp, the J.P. Morgan network, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Export-Import bank, Wells Fargo, Seafirst Bank, Manhattan Institute, the CIA, General Electric, RAND Corporation, Firestone, American Telephone and Telegraph, Atlantic Richfield Company, Johnson & Johnson, Walt Disney Company, Weyerhaeuser, Union Pacific Corp., Gannett Corp., PG&E. Corp., MITRE, McKesson Corp., ConAgra Inc., HCA Healthcare Corp., Franklin Templeton Investments which includes Fiduciary Trust, ICF Kaiser Consulting Group, Kissinger Associates, Carlyle Group, TRW Inc., Space Technology Laboratories (STL), IBM, Ford Motor Company, News Corp, BskyB (Rothschild and Murdoch governed), Daily Telegraph plc., the Economist, Caltech, Stanford University (heavily funded by Bechtel), Order of the Bath, Order of the British Empire, Order of Malta, Ditchley, Bilderberg, Council on Foreign Relations, Business Roundtable, Business Council, Committee Economic Development, Council on International Economic Policy, Trilateral Commission, Atlantic Institute for International Affairs, Pilgrims Society, 1001 Club, Le Cercle. French socialist prime minister.

[Source]

That’s your New World Order right there, folks.

John Templeton, Jr was president of the Templeton Foundation, which was founded by he and his father in 2008. They also endowed Templeton College at Oxford. John Jr passed away in 2015; he had been working for the CIA since 1962, according to his autobiography:

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Census? Or Psych Profile?

A Census is an exercise in statistics. Historically, the sample has been the entire population.

These two questionnaires are more what I would describe as “psychological profiling”. The profile created as a result of either of these surveys is extremely detailed; put both together and They may know you better than you know yourself.

There are certain psychological profiles that could be obtained from answering this strange spectrum of questions that could be very useful to certain agencies. What type of agencies? That would be speculation, but I note that if there is any involvement or interest in this data beyond the University of Quebec and Oxford,  that is being kept secret.

Timothy Leary was hailed as a hero at Burning Man last year, with Queen of Burning Man Susan Sarandon promoting Ugg boots and taking sacrament and leading an occult procession to a temple burn.

Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park SF 1967. Image: pophistorydig

Timothy Leary at the Human Be-In, Golden Gate Park SF 1967. Image: pophistorydig

Before he was a kaftan-wearing, Playboy-posing Presidential candidate, Leary was a student at the prestigious West Point military academy and a Sergeant in the Army – he won four medals in World War 2. After he finished his degree via correspondence school, he got a PhD in clinical psychology from UC Berkeley. While working as a research psychologist at the Kaiser Foundation in Oakland, he wrote “The Leary”, which got him a promotion to Harvard and gained him the attention of Aldous Huxley. Huxley and Dr Humphry Osmond recruited Leary to be one of the main promoters for the CIA’s MKULTRA project, though they feared this ex-military guy in a suit was too straight for the job.

There were 44 Universities and colleges involved in MKULTRA experiments, most of them unwittingly. So far there are at least 33 that we know of doing research on Burning Man – and at least a dozen of those Universities appear on both lists.

What was “The Leary”?

It was a psychological profiling test, used in the entrance exams for the CIA.

So Timothy Leary, who created a psychological profiling test for the CIA, is hailed as a hero at Burning Man – the same year that a research foundation created by a long-time CIA agent gives a multi-million dollar grant to do psychological profiling tests on Burners? Things that make you go hmmmm….

Better add one more to the Coincidence Meter!

 

Can you pass the Acid Test?

 

ticket 1998

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danger ranger tweet self service cult wash your own brain


[Update 10/12/16 7:50am]

A 1963 statement by the CIA’s Inspector General shows what the real point of Personality Testing was and how it fit into “operations”:

The [Clandestine Services] case officer is first and foremost, perhaps, a practitioner of the art of assessing and exploiting human personality and motivations for ulterior purposes. The ingredients of advanced skill in this art are highly individualistic in nature, including such qualities as perceptiveness and imagination. [The PAS] seeks to enhance the case officer’s skill by bringing the methods and disciplines of psychology to bear…. The prime objectives are control, exploitation, or neutralization. These objectives are innately anti-ethical rather than therapeutic in their intent.

THE SEARCH FOR THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by John Marks

[Source]

The Personality Assessment System (PAS) was developed by CIA psychiatrist John Gittinger.


 

Queerstion Time

The whole thing begins with what may be a Freudian slip:

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Burning Many 2016? Is this what is in their minds – many Burning Mans around the world? Or are they thinking about Burning the many deplorables who don’t pass Radical Inclusion 2.0, like frat bros and EDM fans?

Then we get to the introduction, disclaimers, and fine print.

screenshot-2016-09-29-17-27-11 It starts off by asking you if you have already done a Census online this year. This opens the door to double counting, if participants did a Census on the Playa. Towards the end, they provide a list of other ways they collect data from Burners:

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It seems that they were out promoting the Census very hard this year, trying to get everyone except DPW and the Early Entry passes – that is, the actual Burners who create Black Rock City. Burning Man employees get paid to answer these questions, which seems like a conflict of interest.

Question 1 suggests that perhaps you can fill this out as many times as you want, thus skewing the results to your own particular demographic.screenshot-2016-09-29-17-28-07

Straight away, we are into some problems. “What is your current gender?” is a separate question from “What sex was assigned to you at birth”. They are separating “sex” and “gender” as concepts, and suggesting that gender is something you can change on a whim, like a hat. Who is this that is “assigning sex at birth” to people? Professional sexologists? It sounds very transhumanist, very Brave New World.

Then – “do you consider yourself to be any of the following – check all that apply”. First of all, I don’t even know what half these things mean. What is “Two-Spirit”? The “B” in LGBT wasn’t enough?

What possible use does this information have to the people rulers of Black Rock City?

The next part of the above is “check all the years you attended the Burning Man event”. I have been to 12 Burns, 11 at Black Rock City. Do Regionals no longer count as Burns now? Or are attendees at Regionals also going to be invited to fill out these surveys? What does Baker Beach have to do with the Black Rock City census?

I note that the choices specifically exclude the earlier Wicker Man events on Ocean Beach, the Baker Beach burns described by Brian Doherty (and now denied by Mary Grauberger), and the Sausalito “Bealzabub” burns since 1979.

1977-snake-theater-bealzabub

Later, they get to even more questions about sexuality. It’s not enough to know if you’re Two-Spirit or Genderqueer, they need to really get to the bottom of this.

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Heterosexual or straight? WTF is the difference? Who are pansexuals screwing, that isn’t covered in Bisexual? Animals? Disgusting, but there’s nothing else I can think of that this could mean.

If you say you have a partner, then they immediately want to know if you swing. “Yes, No, It’s Complicated” wasn’t enough to cover it; they wanted to add “Somewhat” as well. So 3 of the 4 possible responses are positive indicators – this is biased, not neutral.

Next, spirituality:

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Confusing again. What’s the difference between “Agnostic” and “I don’t know”? Or between “religious” and “deist?”

What relevance does religion have under Radical Inclusion? And who came up with the idea that Flying Spaghetti Monster is a more important religion than Muslim or Hindu – which between them have 2.6 billion followers? This seems like a subtle hint to people of those faiths that they are less than welcome.

9378_-_pastafariano_al_presidio_anticlericale_milano_2_june_2012_-_foto_di_giovanni_dallorto

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They ask survey participants (who don’t have to have been to Burning Man) how Burners get their Burning Man information.

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I would love to know the totals for this question. If it’s favorable to us, it’s highly unlikely it will be shared.

You will note that “web sites” beyond the official ones are not an option, even though there is more information about Burning Man here at burners.me than anybody’s Twitter account. We just get lumped together as “Social media, Facebook, Twitter NOT managed by Burning Man”.

This is ironic, given that after Burners.Me (235,055 Likes), the next largest Burner Facebook groups all seem to have been co-opted by BMorg. BurnTheMan (82,126 ) and The Official Unofficial Burning Man Group (10,442) were infiltrated at the admin level. Groups like Pink Hearted (1,618) and Burn After Reading Magazine (3,160) have been fully assimilated by the org, and even the formerly independent Dr Yes at Burn.Life (5,614) was seduced by BMorg to get naked at the Flysalen VIP this year. Meanwhile the second largest independent Burner page Dancetronauts (98,687) have lost about 20% of their Likes and slipped back to third after a co-ordinated hate campaign. They have now been eclipsed for the #2 spot by Robot Heart (107,749). Robot Heart’s Loic La Meur was all over the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference this year, and interviewed Larry Harvey on stage in Paris in 2013. These are just camp pages, though, not sources for Burning Man news.

Then we get some bizarre questions about the Ten Principles. Pick the three you use most frequently in your every day life, and the three you find hardest – and then describe why they’re so important. You can see that only really, really dedicated Burners are going to bother to complete the survey past this point. It seemed like online multi-choice, not an exam with essays. screenshot-2016-09-29-18-10-46 screenshot-2016-09-29-18-14-05

I thought these were the “Ten Principles of Burning Man”, not the “Ten Principles to Live Your Everyday Life By”. Burning Man’s web site admits that the Principles were set up in such a way that they often actively contradict each other.

Most Burners I know – and trust me, I know a lot – couldn’t even name all ten principles, let alone be trying to live their life by them. I mean what are we, monks? We have to live in the commercial world without doing anything to make money, and give as many gifts as we can? WHY? Because we burn a wooden sculpture once a year?

What’s happened to “Burning Man is the new American holiday?” If we have to return to the default world and live by the Principles of the cult, that sounds like real life, not a holiday.

wired 1996

Then we get a rather strange scenario. How would you give $100 away, if you were BMorg? This reminds me of Stewart Brand’s “Demise Party” that created the Homebrew Comptuer Club at SLAC – see Rolling Stone’s The Last Twelve Hours of the Whole Earth Catalog. I note that “fly staff around the world to attend decompressions, regionals, TED talks and other festivals” is not one of the options, even though more of each Burners’ $100 $400 goes to that than the other categories.

screenshot-2016-09-29-18-18-22 The next set of leading questions relate to minors at Burning Man. This is in Part 2, from the Mistress of Communications

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It would be quite easy to ask “are you concerned about pedophiles at Burning Man?” – a question that many would say “yes” to, whether they had children or not. Instead, the questions seem carefully structured to bring about a desired result – like Cass Sunstein’s choice architecture. Before you are even asked if it’s safe for children, you have to acknowledge that there are families there and that people bring their kids. You are not asked for a reasoned opinion about this, merely your feeling.

If you say it is unsafe, another question appears. The dangers are “Physical Dangers” and “Psychological Dangers” – not sexual dangers, and not dangers with the police. To me this seems dangerously accommodating of the philosophy expressed by Allen Ginsberg, Temporary Autonomous Zone creator Hakim Bey, and their fellow NAMBLA members that teenage children are asking for sex and it does them good to learn about it from adults. “There’s no physical harm! There’s no psychological harm, it’s love!” Whatever dude, it’s against the law and against all standards of human decency. Burners need to distance themselves and their event from this practice, emphatically.

The issue is framed here purely about the children, and not the adults. This despite the fact that there are at least 20 Burners for every child attending. Most Burners with children do not bring them; most Burners do not have children.

The main issues for 95% of Burners are being held hostage trying to leave for hours and fed false information about an Amber Alert that was actually just a naughty 17 year old, and cops running underage stings on camps handing out free booze. If Burning Man, an event where there is a vast amount of alcohol that is all free, was a 21+ event all these problems would instantly disappear. BMorg refuses to consider that, it is just so important to them for teens to attend their event – even though it takes place during the first week of high school, so for most teens to attend they have to be truant.

Nobody should have to show ID at Burning Man. That is even more of a Default World thing than money. The majority of Burners suffer for children to be at Burning Man, and so does our international reputation. It’s a matter of when, not if, something really bad happens – a man was caught trying to kidnap a 10 year old boy this year.

If ever there was any event in the world that should be adults-only, it’s Burning Man. And if anything proves that, it’s this survey. Young children do not need to be exposed to Two Spirit Gender Queer Pansexuals. Who cares if Larry had two kids there at his first one, that’s irrelevant in 2016. Today Burning Man is internationally renowned for free drugs, free drinks, free sex, and an orgy dome. That’s not my opinion: it’s on The Simpsons. Why would any parent expose children to this? Not to mention lung-damaging dust that possibly may be contaminated from decades of life as a Navy bombing range.

At one end of the spectrum is the nuclear family, Mom and Dad and the kids all living in one dwelling, the Judeo-Christian values that built the USA and most of the world. This survey does not seem to have been created with them in mind. At the other end of this spectrum are the Satanists, Aleister Crowley and do what thou wilt, his disciple Kinsey‘s sexual experiments on children being funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to destroy the building blocks of society. These are the Social Engineers, the Cultural Marixsts.

The next question about placement narrows down your profile. They ask you what street you were on, then once you answer another question pops up for the radial address. By this point they’ve also asked you if your camp was connected to the power grid or its own generator and if there was any renewable energy.

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Then they ask you if you were a “placed camp” or not. If you weren’t placed by BMorg, why did you camp where you did?

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Whatever the truth, I recommend not checking yes to “access to all night parties”…just in case this psychological profile is ever connected to your Burner profile. Never mind that Burning Man itself is an all night party, and much less happens there during the day, since it is summertime in the desert…

Then the Burning Nerds come back, for Part 3. They really want to know about your sex life too:

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Once again, these terms are undefined. What is the difference between a “swinger” and “polyamorous”? If you are happily in love in a monogamous relationship, you can’t indicate being a “Love Addict” without signalling that you could be a Sex Addict. Even the people I know who probably are sex addicts don’t go around describing themselves as such. Addiction is a psychological disorder. Love is not.

And, of course, what does any of this have to do with Burning Man? Is it a swingers’ party?

This next question is not surprising – though, again, undefined:

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But then it starts to get even more bizarre:

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Are the suggestogens working? Does attending Burning Man make you more gullible?

Are you ready for the hive mind?

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Seriously? What is this data going to be used for? “On average” – what does that even mean? Their Venn diagrams do not describe any of my relationships with other human beings. And why is it even necessary to state “human beings”? Are there other types of beings doing this Census?

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Hypothetical situations? In a Census?

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The Joker? Is this Burning Man, or Bat Man? “What character are you playing at Burning Man” – seriously? You will note that “being myself” is not an option. So much for one of the Ten Principles being “Radical Self-Expression”.

It’s not enough to say what your preferred character is. You then have to describe in detail the activities that you indulge in while pretending to be someone else:

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And then they ask:

Do you often feel drawn to playing one of these characters in your life (regardless of the struggle, cost, challenges, or unpleasantness involved in being that person)? Check the best answer.

Unpleasantness? Why would anyone at an entertainment festival choose to play an unpleasant character? If I tell a story in San Francisco, am I playing the character of a story-teller because my self-expression is somehow restricted?

Why didn’t your friends and family go to Burning Man?

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“Too many white people”? In what world is that not racism? “Too many men” is acceptable, but not “too many women”? Talk about sexist man-hating bigotry. And why isn’t there “not enough electronic music” as an option?

If you choose an option, it asks you how many of your friends and family think that way:     screenshot-2016-09-29-18-32-31 Then, when you’re done, the Burning Nerds want to hear from you – even if you’ve never been to Burning Man! What sort of Census includes people who are not there? These curious Burning Nerds are at Oxford University. screenshot-2016-09-29-18-33-24

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The screen fade is a little hypnotic. These academic “scientists” get away with things we never could in the corporate world. For example their statement “there are no risks associated with this study”. At the very least, there is a risk that the data could get hacked or leaked. There is also the risk that security settings on your computer reveal more information to the server than just the questions you’re answering.

They want some identifying information, although instead they lie to you that what you are providing is “completely” anonymous. In fact it is partially anonymous.

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It doesn’t take long for the Burning Nerds to start asking some very strange and highly personal questions:screenshot-2016-09-29-18-39-19

It goes on and on like this.

Both Oxford and Quebec seem to have an obsession with lowly-paid workers. It seems weird when just a ticket and vehicle pass to Burning Man is $500, let alone providing for yourself and gifts to others for 8 days. How do people earning less than $50k a year afford to go? Why study these people, when Burning Man 2.0 is being marketed with Billionaire’s Row? What difference does it make to Burning Man if someone earns $15,000 per year or $17,000?

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Oxford also asks the exact same questions about voting. Aside from this being a waste of everyone’s time, how is US voting relevant in any way to Canada and England?

They also have the same weird Venn diagram thing. It is interesting that the Burning Nerds don’t seem to be able to collaborate with each other.

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Now it gets really complicated. You need a degree from Oxford just to complete the frikking Census.

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Enter the initials of your friends, and how close you are to them? Hey, why don’t I just give you my Facebook login while we’re at it! Sorry Burners, but Oxford University is not telling you the truth. The initials of your closest friends is definitely not entirely anonymous information. Especially at Burning Man, where Burners have to create profiles. The more you write in the essay sections of these tests, the easier you become to identify.

unpleasent truths

It’s not just how close you are to them; it’s how much time you are prepared to spend doing favors for them.

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WTF does this have to do with Burning Man?

Are you good or bad? Could you do evil, if the ends justified the means? Oxford University wants to know.screenshot-2016-09-29-19-08-48

Oxford asks a lot about children too. There are questions about giving children money, candy, and teddy bears. Then there’s this:

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I’m sure the pedophiles think it’s very important for children to have independence, curiosity, self-reliance, and a desire to disobey and disrespect their elders. It’s hard to see how this relates to the stated mission of the Burning Man Project, or an Oxford University study on transformational festivals.

[Update 10/3/16 10:30pm] The Washington Post says these are the exact questions used to identify Trump voters by the London School of Economics and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). I guess it’s not enough to know if Burners are Republican, and who they voted for in the previous 4 U.S. elections…Oxford and BMorg need to know if they’re deplorables too.

Oxford at least acknowledges that some of the people taking their survey may have been on drugs. But what happens in the comedown?

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Are you the type of person who hides their feelings? Maybe while playing Batman?

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If you manage to wade your way through all of that, you may be eligible for a generous prize!

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We just want your email for the raffle prize!”. We have an expression for such statements in Australia: “pig’s arse”. Which translates as a sarcastic “sure you do”.

The raffle itself is also bizarre; the benefit for giving your email address and time is ten raffle tickets to win a $50 Amazon gift card. You can keep them for yourself or gift them.

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A nice way to measure your “greed coefficient”.

BMOrg vs BLM: You Took Too Much

Sally Ho from the Associated Press reports that the Burning Man Project are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the Bureau of Land Management.

From the Washington Post:

Burning Man organizers are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the federal government…The festival takes issue with the Bureau of Land Management’s discretion over the weeklong counterculture celebration, claiming that the authority has been overstaffing and overcharging without fully explaining the tab…“If they can’t explain all of it, than we’re asking for all of it back,” said Ray Allen

…the case also pulls back the curtain on the logistical hurdles and an evolving backstage power struggle behind an event once considered an extreme camping experience that has now achieved widespread popularity with millions in revenue.

The BLM said Burning Man officials were provided with a detailed summary of costs with receipts and that “(f)ederal government agencies are obligated to recover the full cost of providing a special benefit…”

The Court case is likely to take more than a year:

The festival is taking the issue to the Interior Department’s internal appeals court, where an administrative law judge will decide on the case. This arbitration process, which could last more than a year, is commonly used for challenges related to grazing or mining uses and fees.

We get an official number for BLM cops in 2015, 84. Plus Pershing etc.

BLM contends that Burning Man demands year-round planning and an unparalleled response to protect the public lands given its scope and nature. The 2015 event required 84 law enforcement officers

BMOrg thinks that’s too many cops, and wonders what they’re all doing:

The festival argues that that many officers aren’t necessary given that more than a thousand Burning Man volunteers also patrol the event and that it has a clean record of taking care of the land. Burning Man said in its appeal that more than half the BLM bill was to pay for labor costs, but that the paperwork lacked specific information about the duties they actually performed.

Ray Allen, the lawyer, seems to be working off a different set of books than the After Burn accounts:

In recent years, a more openly adversarial partnership has surfaced between the festival and the increasing number of local authorities assigned to oversee it. Allen said Burning Man has been stomaching dramatically increasing costs since 2011, when its permit was $730,000.

2011 Afterburn: $1,552,000

It’s not all bad news, things are running pretty smoothly. BLM is going down. Let’s hope this doesn’t throw a spanner in the works:

Both the federal authority and Burning Man organizers said planning for the 2016 festival has been going smoothly. The new state director John Ruhs said BLM staffing numbers are expected to go down this year because communication between both sides are now much improved.

Read the full story  at the Washington Post.

Chocotacos were too much, cops were too much, and now BMOrg are asking the Federales to explain exactly what the money was spent on. Or, to be specific, just what all those cops were doing. Maybe now they will release the arrest information like they used to in the Transparency 1.0 era.

Recent revelations in the Reno Gazette Journal have featured both Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and  Sheriff Chuck Allen taking their families on joyrides important police RAVEN missions to extravagant 18 course meals on the Playa. Sponsored by Krug, perhaps. Most definitely sponsored by First Camp, and their wealthy patrons at the Burning Man Project.

There’s no spectators, unless you’re the cops or the media, then come on in! Look at the freaks! Have some air-lifted lobster.

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Now they can cut costs and fly in on the Burner airline. 3% of the revenue from that presumably goes to the BLM too, so in the future we might get lucky enough to see how well that little sideline monopoly is doing, through the magic of FOIA.

The BLM did accede to Burning Man’s demands to increase the population size from 50,000 including everyone to 70,000 paying plus 10-15,000 volunteers or workers.This has seen revenues go from $13.5 million in 2010 to at least $37 million this year. BLM fees have increased from $1.9 million in 2012, to $2.8 million. This is about what Burning Man’s entire payroll was in 2010. To me, it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.

This Federal take is about the same as the estimated State windfall from the 9% Live Entertainment Tax. This was imposed on all outdoor festivals. BMOrg passed it straight onto Burners. The money sits in their bank account for half a year or more earning interest, before they have to hand it over to the Government. Not to mention all kinds of weirdness with the “9% of $3 of the $7 handling fee” or whatever all that was.

Do the hundreds of BLM workers involved with Burning Man take their frustration about this complaint out on any BMOrg personnel, who are dealing through lawyers and media spokespeople? Or do they take it out on DPW and Burners, trying to make their budgets instead of getting their hours cut…with sniffer dogs and citations?

Maybe they should just let the government take their share, the same way we do when we accept the ever-increasing  ticket prices. It’s the Government’s land, in the same way that it’s Decommodification LLC’s brand. You wanna use it, you pay rent.

“Transparent” Burning Man should provide their own figures, since they are demanding the Government do the same. We want to know where the money goes too. It’s us that are funding the whole thing, on both sides. At least, it was until Flysalen…now we have very little idea where the money’s actually coming from.

Why things are so tight, when ticket prices and demand are so high, and they no longer have to pay any tax?

If only the money and energy that they put into lawyers and accountants went into waste management, reduced carbon footprint, and reforestation.

rainforest

Wickermanlarge

Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

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