The BLM and local cops want more resources to handle a large population.
BMorg says the BLM’s demands would cost $10 million, and lead to “substantial” increases in ticket prices – which are already more than substantial for an event where the punters have to bring all the entertainment and facilities themselves.
The 10-year Permit for the event is at stake. This is needed for the largest event on Federal land to continue.
Among the contested changes suggested by BLM in the draft report, according to the Burning Man website, were:
— Federal oversight over certain parts of Burning Man‘s operations
— 10 miles of either plastic or cement barriers around the perimeter fence
— Dumpsters within the city and along Gate Road for the 80,000 participants
— BLM-approved private security funded by Burning Man who would be screening for weapons and drugs for anyone entering Black Rock City.
One suggestion, labelled as “brazen” in the Burning Man staff statement, was that the group would pay for the maintenance of County Road 34, which takes participants to the entrance…
Further complicating matters is the fact that organizers are seeking a 10-year permit with BLM to continue to hold the event at Black Rock Desert, which has been “home” to Burners for 27 years. The environmental impact statement was done in part to look at the potential outcome if the event grows to hold up to 100,000 people, versus its current attendee numbers of 70,000, or not holding the event at all.
The field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Black Rock Field Office said its suggestions are “attempts at trying to solve problems” in comments to the Gazette-Journal, emphasizing that the report is not yet finalized
BMorg’s response is, predictably, to raise ticket prices. No matter that they are able to sell another 30,000 more tickets. At current VIP Price of $1400, that is an extra $42,000,000 revenue per year – plus handling fees, vehicle passes, and all that jazz.
Initial cost estimates for BLM’s recommended stipulations are nearly $10 million per year and would raise ticket prices substantially. Importantly, BLM would benefit financially from these increased expenses through their existing requirements to take a percentage of a permit holder’s gross revenue.
They couldn’t just keep ticket prices the same, and bank the extra $32 mil?
Revenue from Burning Man event $42.8 million, up over $5 million from 2016
Annual Surplus (Revenue less Expenses): $3,733,876
Donations received almost $1 million
salaries (including contractors) increased $2.1 million
Cash and receivables: $11.75 million, up from $9.5 million in 2016
Total assets: $27.8 million
Sales of inventory was $1,605,516. That’s a lot of ice and coffee. Ice cost $596,177.
Medical expenses were $649,000.
Their stock donation program seems to be working, with a donation of $26,517 in marketable securities.
Most of the key personnel got pay rises in 2017, though some went down:
Overall payroll including contractors is $18,703,754 = 42% of revenues.
Grants as a % of revenues = 3.8% . Note this includes the cost of building The Man, the base structure, and partial funding of Playa art projects including the Temple.
The list of grant recipients contains many familiar names.
Burners Without Borders made 4 grants, totalling $4,900. [* this is for grants outside the US and has been disputed by BWB director Breedlove. See comments. I have asked him to provide the correct information, I will add it to the post – Ed.]
The annual Artumnal gathering took in $629,404 in 2017. About $100,000 of this went to pay for the use of the facility:
This is a substantial increase on 2016:
A huge thank you to A Balanced Perspective, DS and Anonymous Burner for their contributions and thoughts.
Artists receive less than 2% of the budget (approx $800,000)
Regionals receive about 4% of the budget ($1,717,766)
About 9% of the budget gets piled up in the bank account as cash.
Anonymous Burner says:
The art funding is constantly presented as a central tenant of the event, but is actually getting funded like an afterthought. Artists are the face and the creativity of the core of the event, but have to carry their art on their own backs while others claim credit for making things so great for them
What does an organization trying to “make the world a better place” through art need with so much cash, into the tens of millions of dollars? Why do they spend such a tiny amount of the money given to them by Burners every year on art? Why do the ticket revenues increase 10% a year but the art budget seems to keep proportionally shrinking?
How can they justify spending $1 million a year on insurance without providing insurance for the 10,000 or so workers on site building the city, art installations and camps? Would it really kill their vision to make $3.5 million a year instead of $3.9 million, and look after their workers better?
Why does the main “charitable” organization have to spend more on the Regional Events than they give out on grants? It’s about double the art budget. Is the purpose of Burning Man to spread Burner culture around the world through art, or is it to expand their inefficient bureaucracy? Can’t the Regional events support themselves?
The number of paid participants according to calculations in the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office report was 69,493.
I filed a FOIA request to get the 2017 vendor list: 84 companies selling things other than ice and coffee.
DS has also been filing FOIA requests for information about Burning Man. He was able to get this heavily redacted information for 2017, the calculations used to pay the Bureau of Land Management’s 3% fee.
Why the need for such secrecy?
The bulk of the $4,349,723 in Permits, Taxes and Fees appears to be the 9% Nevada Live Entertainment Tax. [* see comments – Ed.]
One of the interesting things in the 990 is the listing of “related entities”. It includes Decommodification LLC, but the share of end of year assets is $0.
Decommodification LLC is the organization that was created at the same time as the non-profit Burning Man Project, to hold all the intellectual property. As far as we can tell, it gets paid $75,000 per year in royalties from the Burning Man Project for use of their trademarks. We have no information on what other royalties it earns, for example from sales of the documentary “Spark” or the “lines around the block” Smithsonian exhibit. Google recently commissioned Burning Man to design a $2 million art installation for their campus: where does this money go? Five lucky artists will get a share, most likely the “big names” who appear in the grants list on a regular basis. Is there a royalty component to deals like this?
Decommodification LLC made two filings to the California Secretary of State on January 16, 2019. One was that “nothing has changed”, and another one requested that the company registration be canceled. It seems strange to me to file “no change” and “cancellation” notices on the same date, if anyone has knowledge of how this process works please leave a comment.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, the trademarks were transferred from Decommodification LLC back to the Burning Man Project on 28 April 2018 – the day Larry Harvey passed away.
The “nunc pro tunc” is a retroactive assignment to correct an earlier ruling. Was this something to do with Larry’s estate?
What happened to the rest of the intellectual property, including the rights to future royalty streams?
Were the trademarks assigned back to the Burning Man Project for free, Decommodification LLC dissolved, and the accumulated cash of 6-7 years of royalties distributed to the members? Or was some of that $12 million cash hoard used to purchase them?
These transactions occurred in 2018, so perhaps will get covered in next year’s IRS Form 990. There is no mention of them on the Burning Man web site, despite this being perhaps the most significant thing BMorg have done since spinning off their non-profit in 2012. BMorg like to claim they’re a “leader in radical transparency”, but Decommodification Inc has always been a mysterious black box.
The 2017 Form 990 values the Burning Man Project’s intangible assets at $4.23 million, but this was before the trademark transfer. This amount first appeared on the books in 2014. We believe it represents goodwill on the acquisition of Black Rock City, LLC from the Founders.
In 2016 BMorg bought a 3800 acre parcel of land known as “Fly Ranch” with big donations and paid $6.5 million. This is why the 2016 donations were more than $8 million.
Around 42:30 in the above video, they start talking about “community ownership of land”. The communist social justice component of this vision is that “living off the land is a version of Universal Basic Income”.
Five minutes into the video, they reveal that the land has been sub-divided into 53 different parcels.
Who gets a permanent Burning Man lot? Presumably the 6 5 Founders and the millionaires who put up the $6.5 million. Will the rest be auctioned off to the highest bidder, or handed out to the most favored staff, artists, and camps? I’m tipping Dancetronauts are not on the short list.
This reminds me of an earlier post, Get Your Timeshare Slot in the Sultan. There, I postulated that the “ironic timeshare sales” brochures being handed out from a booth at the Man base was actually Burning Man’s way of bringing that in as a future reality.
The same thing happened with hotels, where BMorg director Chris Weitz opened an “ironic hotel” at Ashram Galactica, which paved the way for the proliferation of luxury Plug-N-Play hotel camps today.
Some information about the original intention for Fly Ranch is available thanks to the Wayback Machine
You can see from the plan above that the property is adjacent to another playa. Hualapai Flat is land administered by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.
From the January 2018 report, it looks like this deal is close to being done:
Who else would want empty desert playa?
The original vision for the Fly Ranch site was a sustainable community of one acre lots for employees and affiliates, with its own airstrip. This plan talks about 9 parcels of 5 acres, each with their own access roads; and 73 parcels of 1 acre each.
Village and Residential sites
The two communities are based on Burning Man’s Ten Principles, and this will be it’s first year-round expression. Employees and affiliates may build on a ‘Homestead’ basis, or rent or buy into the Village community at the project’s north end. For others, one acre lots may be bought for home construction in the project’s central development (and separate H.O.A). These areas will be allowed to grow incrementally, with roads and utilities phased as required. Geo- thermal electricity will serve all the lighting and cooling needs of residents (and possibly the valley’s ranchers as well), and hot water will provide all heating.
Organic vegetable farming will be developed as an economic base for the village community. Geo-thermally heated greenhouse organic farming will be operated for local needs, and for transport and sale. This can supply Reno with organic vegetables throughout the year, while creating a wholly independent economy for the community.
Even with limited use, the grassy banks of the vernal pools are being sloughed in by bathers, the pools gradually churned into shallow mud holes. Bathers also leave tanning lotions, insect repellants, and other contaminants behind to ill effect. The pond waters contain a species of pupfish which are isolated by the underground source and terminal outflow.
A nature preserve requires control and enforcement, accordingly this area must be properly fenced to admit access only to indigenous animals, but excluding horses or cattle which trample wetlands. Human access must be highly regulated, with trespass, hunting and public use of existing pools and hot springs banned.
Anticipating the utter destruction of too much love, together with the projected costs of controlling and insuring against increasing liability, it is suggested that a Land Conservancy that is affiliated with Burning Man be created to manage the Geyser and wetland area.
This will epitomize the style of Fly Ranch, and become a beacon for the greater community. A restaurant, rooms and services will be available. Fly Lodge will be available for public and corporate use, while also serving as World Headquarters for Burning Man’s Regional organizations around the globe.
Burning Man Board Member Chip Conley’s experience with luxury boutique hotels and AirBNB would come in handy for a plan like this.
How Much For That Oasis In The Desert?
Burning Man’s balance sheet shows land, buildings and equipment of $11.9 million; net of depreciation, $9.9 million. Schedule D, Part VI lists the value of land as $7,233,545 and buildings at $979,870. In 2015, before the Fly Ranch purchase, land was $198,000 and buildings $979,780.
According to Nevada property records, Fly Ranch only cost about $2.6M. The Washoe sales records record two transactions for $2.377M and $0.240M. The water rights came under two different transactions and appear to not have specific value attached to them. The water rights transactions gave the prior owner only about 64 acre feet of water for livestock.
There were four transactions in 2016:
1) sale of 3,381 acres that was the majority of FR,
2) another 276 acres that was part of the FR with the geyser
These sold the mineral rights but not the water but referred to other linked sales of water rights.
3) transfer of water rights with a carve out for the prior owner for item 1).
4) transfer of water rights with a carve out for the prior owner for item 2).
Surface water rights initiated by applying water to beneficial use prior to March 1, 1905, and which have been perpetuated or continuously used through the years are known as vested water rights
The main water rights for the hot springs, Cottonwood Creek and Little Cottonwood Creek are the rare and highly coveted “vested water rights”, granted before 1905.
My source tells me that the Burning Man event draws 12 million gallons of water per year from this property (27 acre feet).
We recently published discussion from the Washoe County Commissioner’s meeting about the possibility of redrawing district boundaries so that Burning Man would be part of Washoe County (which gets the economic benefits from event-related tourism) instead of Pershing County (which gets a massive spike in crime rates with no economic benefits).
Fly Ranch is next to Hualapai Flat. Burning Man was held at this location once, in 1997. Hualapai Flat is where Pershing, Washoe, and Humboldt Counties meet. Fly Geyser is in Washoe County.
Is the proposed Washoe Boundary move related to long-standing plans to purchase Hualapai Flat? Is BMorg sitting on $4 million from the Fly Ranch donations to acquire this land?
I guess time will tell.
[Update Feb 7, 2019 2:11pm]
The plot thickens, with this post saying that Burning Man was under contract to purchase Fly Ranch in 2009, and real estate developer Build SF helped organize their corporate restructuring to provide “personal financial security” for the 6 Burning Man founders.
In 2009, the BUILD partners were introduced to Larry Harvey and his partners at the Burning Man Organization. Burning Man was in contract to acquire a 4,000-acre ranch in the Nevada desert on which they planned to move the annual Burning Man event as well as develop a desert art center.
BUILD facilitated a transaction that allowed Burning Man to adjust its corporate structure, manage tax requirements, protect trademarks, establish a permanent office, and provide personal financial security for the six Burning Man partners. Real estate provided an elegant solution for these complex, multi-dimensional challenges, while preserving and honoring the basic precepts of Burning Man. We are proud of the part we played as advisors to Burning Man in establishing a clear path and solid foundation for everyone’s long-term benefit, including the event itself.
I have another trusted source who drew the “intellectual property in a separate company” structure on a napkin for CEO Maid Marian. I will ask their opinion on this.
[Update Feb 13. 2019 4:06pm]
Breedlove head of BWB has updated us with some more detail:
It’s interesting to see the difference between Part III 4c & Schedule F Part 1. I don’t quite understand how they split the difference between those two sections.
We also provided grants for Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief at $21,317.12
There was also a series of Fiscal Sponsor funds that were raised and given out. One of those being the $30,363 for the Camp Epic Santa Rosa Fire Relief (which is in one of your screenshots above)— but I don’t have the ability to pull up all those numbers at this time.
I’m also realizing while going through my data that it isn’t the easiest to find some of this stuff unless you know where to look. So taking a note on improving our reporting systems for the future– I appreciate the opportunity to look at how we can do better at reporting in a more transparent and better to find way.
Thanks to Anonymous Burner for tipping us off to this. This seems like a new record for hotel room prices at a Commodification Camp, taking JT’s crown from last year.
Since this is a swinger’s club, Mistresses of Merriment are very much on the menu. Tickets to Burning Man? No problem.
Remember when the community was outraged about the Krug Dinner? That all seems so quaint these days. Welcome to Burning Man 2.0, this is the new normal. Radical Self-Reliance? It’s just a spectrum. Decommodification? It’s just one of the for-profit LLC’s. Communal effort? Hey, our sherpas work hard. Real hard.
For the sake of space we are going to assume that you have already done your research and have a solid understanding of what Burning Man is all about and the adventure that lies ahead. This page is dedicated to laying out an overview of the DYKG camp, the amenities it will encompass and a break down of the costs associated with participation.
The principal differences between our camp and any other DYKG event that you may have attended is the necessity for tickets (that are very difficult to procure) and the requirement that we fully establish our own infrastructure and support staff.
Therefore, unlike our other events, we will be holding a 15% deposit, until February 1, 2016. Once your tickets are secured the balance will be due to secure your campsite. At that time, if you are no longer interested in attending, you may request a refund and your tickets and campsite will go to a couple on our waiting list. If we are unable to secure the number of tickets requested your deposit will be refunded in full.
Several people have contacted us wondering about why the costs for this event are so much higher than they were expecting for a, “Hippy gathering in the desert”.
The economics of supply and demand play a big part in costs on the Playa. Although cash transactions at the event are prohibited, the vast economic impact prior to the event are obvious.
Within a 500-mile radius of Reno, Nevada, RV rentals are known to increase by as much as 4-times. Part of this is based on the enormous demand of 70,000 burners communing on one location and, in part, because of the hundreds of man hours that go into cleaning each RV after the event in order to restore it to pristine condition. For something like a tour bus, this can multiply into thousand of man hours, mechanical parts and even reupholstery before it can return to service in the Default World.
In the spot market, bulk water deliveries for our camp will range $1.00 up to $1.50, in 500 gallon increments. Of course the waste water must also be hauled away and this will run another $0.20 to $0.25 per gallon. (This is something to think about at home when you are taking a shower tomorrow morning.)
This same issue applies to electricity provided by giant diesel generators, each burning hundreds of gallons per day, commercial kitchens connected to 100-gallon propane tanks and all the fuel and man hours to move everything onto and off of the Playa.
If you were trying to think of a less hospitable, or economically more challenging place in North America to hold a seven day festival, you would be hard pressed. That said, only because Burning Man is held in such an inhospitable region of the country has it been able to persist and even thrive for thirty years.
Image Source: Do You Know George
Our Camp Amenities
(2) Burning Man Tickets per Couple
Central Pavilion / Shelter for Camp
Camp Bar & Coffee Lounge (Open Bar)
Camp Toilet Trailer w/ Key
Camp Meals (Twice Daily)
Central Electric Generator for RV’s
Diesel Fuel Deliveries for Generator
Gasoline Deliveries for Art Car
Late Night Snacks
Maid Service for Camp RV’s
Private Charter Flights (optional)
Propane Delivery for Kitchen
RV Delivery & Set-Up
Solar-heated Shower Trailer
Stocked RV with Snacks & Drinks
Support Staff for Camp & Kitchen
Themed Dinner Parties
Transportation To & From Reno, NV
Waste / Sewer Collection
History of the DYKG Camp
In 2014 George first attended Burning Man with the purpose of exploring this unique event and seeing if it was something his friends would enjoy.
Following the instructions of his two “Burner” friends, George set out to do things “the right way”. He started by purchasing a 1970 camping trailer in North Carolina and personally seeing to its restoration. Then when his “silver pickle” was roadworthy he set our from Charleston, SC on a 5,600 mile round-trip odyssey. After three days on the road he arrived Sunday morning and waited with thousands of others for the gates to open. After that, the Playa took hold and what unfolded was too indescribable to even begin to touch on here.
In 2015, George began to organize fellow lifestylers and establish plans to provide a camp of their own. Attending for his second time on 2015 his focus was on staffing, infrastructure and locating quality vendors.
Burning Man 2016 will see the first DYKG Camp, and will provide for all its members with private RV’s, gourmet dining and most importantly the elusive TICKETS!
A key component to the health and happiness of any camp is its infrastructure. Specifically the plans to provide shelter, food, water, electricity, waste management and community structure and how they are executed.
Due to George’s incredibly diverse and talented network of friends, it was easy to find those with the skills and acumen to guide this project. For our camp we will be converting several vintage Airstream trailers into specific-use vehicles. Some of the conversions include: commercial kitchen, shower trailer, bathroom trailer and “bar car”. This idea of re-purposing fits in perfectly with the idea of having a minimal footprint on the playa and reducing environmental impact.
For guests needing accommodations late model trailers, motorhomes and tour buses are available.
As your hosts, we feel it is an important part of our responsibility to make sure everyone knows what to expect. Whether or not you have been to a private event of this caliber before, we believe that passing along this information affords
everyone the opportunity to feel more comfortable and enjoy themselves more fully.
First and foremost, we don’t hold parties, we create elaborate multi-day events to entertain, entice, and indulge all of your senses. Our events have a tendency toward the extravagance and are comprised of typically a half dozen to a dozen social events providing the opportunities to get to know others and take part in activities that you might not otherwise.
Privacy and discretion are cornerstones in the planning of our events. We never publish our guest list, release anyone’s name or photos, nor do we disclose the exact location where our private events are held. We are comfortable announcing the city, and at times the hotel where our guests will be staying; however, that is our limit. What information about yourself you choose to share with others is entirely your decision.
Our guest list is always selective and limited to between fifty and sixty couples and a small number of un-escorted women. The guest list is comprised predominantly of post-graduate professionals in their late thirties to late forties with certainly some variance on either side of that range.
A Welcome Dinner is typically held early in the event and generally achieves an attendance of thirty to forty couples. So far, these private dinners have been held at internationally acclaimed restaurants and vineyards with preparation by Iron Chefs and other culinary geniuses of our time. The Welcome Dinner lives up to its name in being a slow-paced delight to the senses while giving everyone a chance to mingle and indulge in welcoming conversation with new friends. Cocktail dresses for the ladies and suits for the gentlemen are the perfect attire for this dinner.
Cocktail and Wine Receptions are an integral part of the event giving everyone a chance to make new introductions and catch up with old friends before heading off to dinner or other activities planned for that the evening. This is an ideal time to make plans with others for daytime adventures or other epicurean pursuits. Cocktail dresses for the ladies and jackets sans tie for the gentlemen are again the perfect attire for these receptions.
There are a variety of Social Events throughout the weekend. Thus far, these have included such activities as a Frenchman Street Music Exploration, Hot Air Balloons, Private Vineyard Tours & Tastings, Exotic Car Road Rally, Private Jet Helicopters, 5-star Spas, and Parkour Training. These opportunities are typically smaller groups and are unique to each event. They are intended to indulge your desires while sharing an unparalleled experience with your new friends.
All of our events culminate in a either a Formal Ball or semi-formal party. These are generally held at historic residences or private estates while others have been held in penthouses and other more unusual locations (think 7,000 sq ft Wine Cave). Many of our previous guests have commented on how much they have enjoyed simply touring some of the country’s most significant manor homes and great estates.
The soiree is professionally catered with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and wine to seduce your palate. Live music is regularly provided by Grammy winning musicians, international recording artists, and renowned singers to delight your ears and lure you to the dance floor.
For the ladies, formal full-length gowns are the perfect choice. Gentlemen are encouraged to dress comparably in that perfectly tailored suit or tuxedo as the occasion dictates.
We try to emphasize to everyone that arriving punctually is important, and privately arranged transportation is provided. Upon arriving, guests will have an opportunity to mingle and chat as they explore the property. This is an especially ideal time to make those connections with whom you are interested in spending time with in a more intimate setting later in the evening. This will help avoid any possible unwelcome situations later in the evening.
As the night progresses those that wish to are welcome to adjourn to the bedrooms. We do maintain a strict Open Door Policy, which simply means that all of the bedroom doors are to remain open. If there is someone already in the room, you are welcome to watch. If invited, you are welcome to join in. Everyone attending knows and understands that “No means no” and that “Pushy people will not be tolerated” and will be asked to leave.
While you may certainly expect a few invitations to play, for those not wishing to do so that evening, there is certainly no pressure. Simply enjoy yourself, meet some interesting people, and perhaps exchange a few phone numbers and email addresses with those you are interested in seeing again. If nothing else, when you and your escort arrive home that night you will certainly have plenty to discuss and fantasize about before calling it a night.
When planning your flight home, try to arrange for a late afternoon departure so you can enjoy one final gathering, Brunch. What first originated at George’s manse as a casual meal with conversation frequently punctuated by ribald laughter about the prior evening’s festivities has continued to this day. Satiated in the weekend’s prurient pursuits, the relaxed atmosphere will help bring closure to our brief time together, while providing you the chance to make private
plans with other couples whom you share a similar interest or passion.
As always, please feel free to ask us any and all questions. It is from your questions that we are better able to serve as your gracious hosts.
Let us translate the doublespeak, exaggeration and misdirection for you. From the official blog:
What if I want to make a donation to Burning Man Arts moving forward?
At this time you can still donate through the BRAF website, here:http://blackrockarts.org/participate/donate. In the very near future there will be a new way to donate to art programs through the Burning Man Project. While details are yet to be determined, donors will have the option of directing support specifically to arts.
“Very near future” probably means “after we get back from Caravansary”, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be “sometime in 2015”. They’ve been working on this non-profit thing since 2010. They announced it was completed in January of this year, which has turned out not to be true. This latest announcement is just another example of how much non-profit transition still lies ahead of us. How hard can it really be? How many more details are there to determine?
Burning Man today announced a reorganization of its arts programs to place more art in communities around the world, make more art available for the annual event in the Black Rock Desert, and create more opportunities for artists and donors.
More art, more opportunities, in more communities around the world. Sounds good. Will this actually happen though? I mean, I’m sure there will be more opportunities for donors. No doubt about that. BMOrg’s line of scarves and calendars and above-face-value-tickets will expand to other merch items, and every issue of JackedRabbit will be jam-packed with pleas for us to give them more money. “For the good of the artists”, we’ll be told, “to help the community”. Is there actually some sort of plan with quantifiable goals behind these lofty statements? Like, “100 art works in 3 years”? Or is it just “eventually, we’ll do more?” Perhaps the thinking is along the lines of “when we increase ticket prices to $650 next year, we will also increase funding for art grants from $800,000 to $1 million”.
Black Rock Arts Foundation, which is now a subsidiary of the non-profit Burning Man Project, is joining forces with Black Rock City’s art department to create one program called Burning Man Arts. The mission of Burning Man Arts is to change the paradigm of art from a commodified object to an interactive, participatory, shared experience of creative expression.
“This change breaks down the barriers. Art for the playa and art for the world will be one and the same,” said Burning Man’s founder Larry Harvey. “It makes it easier for artists to apply for grants and support, and it enables donors to contribute to the entire spectrum of expressive culture that is pouring out of Burning Man.”
Err…and how exactly will it do that? They don’t know, the details are “yet to be determined”. Let’s just go ahead and execute a merger of two corporations, don’t worry about how it will work, that’s just details, details don’t matter, we can figure all that out later…we’ll drop some acid on an art car in Deep Playa and the answer will come to us.
There is plenty of “art for the world”, and the Burning Man Project’s merger takeover announcement is not suddenly going to make the Art World and the Playa the same. No-one is talking about what a problem the commodification of art is except Decommodification, LLC. Andy Warhol painted 32 different flavors of Campbell’s Soup cans in the 60’s, and that work is considered iconic. The art world is doing just fine without Burning Man. According to Bloomberg:
Global art sales approached their pre-crisis high last year, led by record prices for postwar artists and a jump in U.S. auctions. Sales of art and antiques increased 8 percent to $65.9 billion…Boosted by a 25 percent increase in sales, the U.S. confirmed its position as the international art market leader, representing 38 percent of the market by volume, a 5 percentage point increase from 2012, according to the report.
“Most high priced works in postwar and contemporary art are being sold in New York, both at auctions and in dealer sales,” Clare McAndrew, a cultural economist who compiled the report, said in a telephone interview. “It’s not just the U.S. buyers. People from Latin America and Asia are buying in New York.”
Is this just another big pie for Burning Man to stick their fingers into, in the name of “non-profit” – like oil? Will we see art galleries on the Playa soon, like at most other festivals?
So far in 2014, the Black Rock City art program has provided more than $1 million in grants and support to artists preparing works for the annual event in the Black Rock Desert during the last week of August.
Since its creation in 2001, Black Rock Arts Foundation has funded 149 projects worldwide, providing more than $2,500,000 in grants and support to artists. BRAF has awarded more than $430,000 through its Grants to Artists program and installed or otherwise supported 38 projects (with direct grants of $770,000) through its Civic Arts program. BRAF has also produced 82 memorable events and provided collaborative public art consulting services.
The word “partially” is missing from in front of “funded”. The artists still have to raise money themselves, grants above $20,000 are rare.
The word “support” is in there several times, and it’s crucial. This year’s Art Honoraria grants were $800,000, 2.6% of revenue – $10 from every ticket. So how do they get from that to “more than a million”? If a Burning Man staffer goes to project meetings, this appears to count as “in kind” contributions. So $1.2 million of cash sponsorship gets inflated to $2.5m in “grants and support to artists”. Most of the artists I’ve spoken to don’t really feel supported by the Burning Man Project, or feel any need to employ them as consultants. Many feel like they have to battle against BMOrg and their selectively enforced rules to make their projects happen. If they use the words “Burning Man” or photos of their artwork on the Playa in fundraising to get their art to the event, the kind of support they will get is more likely to be from the legal people sending them threatening letters, or demanding they take our insurance policies.
Perhaps this is all going to change in the new system, and Burning Man will raise money on behalf of artists and pass those funds through to the artists without taking a cut. Maybe Burning Man will take out a blanket liability policy for art at its event, and pay the artists’ share out of ticket revenues.
Unfortunately, their track record suggests otherwise. Burning Man Arts tells us one story on their web site, but the IRS filings of their non-profits from Guidestar paint a very different picture.
Black Rock Arts Foundation
Burning Man Project
For an organization whose very foundation principle is Gifting, they don’t appear to be very good at The Art of Giving. They seem quite good at stacking up the cash in their bank account rather than spending it on grants, though.
Believe who you want, Burners. Believe BMOrg, telling you that everything’s wonderful, and that centralizing art grants within the Burning Man Project is going to be good for artists and donors. Or believe us, showing you what 6 years of IRS Form 990 filings say. According to the IRS, BRAF spent $805,848 on grants between 2007-2012 – not $2.5 million.
For donors, this development means that financial gifts to art projects for the Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert can be tax deductible and opens up a wide range of new opportunities for supporters of the arts
Donations to the Black Rock Arts Foundation were already tax deductible. That’s why we can see the IRS data. So, what gives for the givers? “A wide range of new opportunities”…such as? “Coming soon”.
it’s not technically a merger. Legally speaking, Black Rock Arts Foundation is becoming a subsidiary of Burning Man Project. Operationally, the two organizations are bringing their resources together to create one robust art program that will work on projects both on and off the playa
It’s not technically a merger, it’s technically a takeover. The new program will be run by BMP, who will bank all the money. BRAF board members who recently left are not being replaced.
I wonder if the real reason behind this is that BMP needs to do something “charity like” to maintain their tax-free status. Maybe the bean counters cautioned that sending founders to San Mateo for panel discussions where they took credit for charities they didn’t provide grants to wasn’t quite enough?
BMOrg provided us with a handy FAQ for their announcement. It uses a lot of words to explain that there are no new initiatives, programs, tools, or sources of funding and support for artists, and there are no new opportunities for donors to give. In fact, pretty much nothing’s changed. However, “ideas are being explored for the future”. Clearly a lot of thought has gone into how this merger could help artists and donors.
What are the benefits of doing this?
This change will benefit artists and donors, and will ultimately lead to more art being created and enjoyed by more people around the globe. It breaks down the barrier between art on playa and art in the world, and instead creates one entity that will work in the interest of both. Artists will have more opportunities to receive funding and other forms of support, and donors will have a new range of options for supporting the arts.
What is the timeline for this to take place?
The legal transaction was completed on July 24, 2014. The transition and restructuring of the entities will occur over the coming months and into 2015.
What happens to the BRAF Board?
Many of the BRAF Board members have stepped down and we thank them for their dedication and service building a vibrant, successful arts organization over the past 13 years. A scaled down version of the BRAF Board will continue to exist. We are working with members of the board to engage them in new ways with Burning Man Project and Burning Man Arts.
How will decisions on grants be made?
Burning Man and BRAF grant programs will continue to award grants based on the same criteria as before. While we will create some additional efficiency by merging these programs and sharing tools and other resources, we don’t anticipate making immediate changes to our grant criteria or decision-making bodies.
How are current BRAF programs being affected?
We don’t expect the transition to have any major immediate effect on existing projects, grants or grant applications. They will be completed within the framework of BRAF in collaboration with Burning Man Project.
What new programs are being planned for?
None at this time, but there are some ideas being explored for the future.
The internal workings of the Black Rock Arts Foundation are a little bit of a mystery to us here at Burners.me, and given that the BRAF’s Board of Directors includes most of the people from Black Rock City, LLC’s Board of Directors, it’s both tempting and appropriate to take a suspicious view of them as a default; it’s also true, however, that BRAF is non-profit, and that their Board of Directors is much larger than that of Black Rock City, LLC’s. The presence of high-profile artists like David Best and Peter Hudson on BRAF’s Advisory Board is also comforting. . . so in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, we have chosen to regard these points as ameliorating factors that neutralize the presence of people known to be thoroughly corrupt and/or thoroughly incompetent when left to their own devices. At BRAF, the gangsters who run Burning Man — aka “the Naughtiest Children in the World” — seem to have plenty of adult supervision to keep them in check.
So. . . if you’re a glass-half-full person, you have the scratch to pay big bucks to fund permanent art in permanent communities, and you’ll be anywhere near San Francisco (a sleepy little hamlet in Northern California) in the last week of November, this event is for you:
The Black Rock Arts Foundation presents The Artumnal Gathering: Metamorphosis
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Dinner 6:00 PM, Main Event 9:45 PM
The Bently Reserve 400 Sansome St. San Francisco, CA 94111
For the last twelve years, BRAF has enjoyed the privilege of working with artists who are breaking the mold of public art, and who prioritize community benefit and involvement in their work. We believe in their vision and are honored to offer them our support.
BRAF is nearing a pivotal moment in our evolution. We recognize that there are more avenues of growth to be explored, more communities in need of art, and more connections and collaborations to be nurtured.
Now is the perfect time to recognize our community’s extraordinary artists! Join us in celebration of our past work and collaborators, and support BRAF’s future initiatives!
BRAF’s seventh annual gala event includes epicurean delights, sophisticated libations, tantalizing treats, wondrous pleasures, captivating featured and roaming live performances, DJ’s, original artwork by BRAF’s favorite artists, dancing, raffle, gallery art sale, live and silent auction featuring exclusive experiences and items, and abundant expressions of creativity!
To buy tickets visit http://blackrockarts.org/events/artumnal-gathering-2013
Artumnal Ticket Packages
All tickets are 21 and over. Black Rock Arts is a 501(c)3 non-profit. A portion of your ticket price is tax-deductible.
The Artumnal Celebration – 9:45 pm – Late
– $40 1st tier – Sold out!
– $50 2nd tier – Sold out!
– $60 3rd tier
Includes an evening of featured and roaming performances, Djs, dancing, raffle, silent auction, art sale, and delightful surprises.
Feast of Imagination – 6:00 pm – Late
– $275 advance purchase only
Includes an individual seat for a sumptuous dinner, auction, performances, wine, dessert, and entry to the Artumnal Celebration.
Table of Plenty: A Table for 8 at Feast of Imagination – 6:00 pm – Late
– $3,000 advance purchase only
Includes a reserved table for eight guests for the Feast of Imagination dinner.
Table of Abundance: A Table for 8 with premium placement – 6:00 pm – Late
– $5,000 advance purchase only
Includes a reserved table for eight guests for the Feast of Imagination, with premium seating placement in the banquet hall, premium wine selection and other treats.
Table of Jubilation: A Table for 8 with premium placement – 6:00 pm – Late
– $10,000 advance purchase only
Includes a reserved table for eight guests for the Feast of Imagination, with premium seating placement in the banquet hall, premium wine selection and other treats.