Tis the Season for Art Grants

It is once again that most merry time of year when there is a sudden chill in the air and we are rushing around, planning, contriving, concocting, conspiring and otherwise devising our grand plans. We are making lists and checking them twice all for one reason and one reason only; that being that the day has come for us to download and begin filling out the Burning Man Art Grant Form. Yes, after waiting all year, it’s finally time to apply for a Grant!

First off, to get there, go to the Submit Grant page and read about how to Submit your Grant proposal. Then download the ZIP file at the bottom of that page at the Art Grant PDF Form Instructions and Submission Form ZIP link. There is also an updated Technical FAQ that should answer any questions you might have about filling out the form.

Minaret by Bryan Tedrick - photo by Anthony Peterson
Minaret by Bryan Tedrick – photo by Anthony Peterson

Everything you need should be on those pages, but the short of this is that the Burning Man organization gives away a lot of money from ticket sales every year to artists to help them build and get their art out to Black Rock City. There are grants for large or small projects so don’t be shy about the size of your idea. The Art Grants from Burning Man are unique in that they require nothing but that the project is on display in Black Rock City, from the very start of the event and that documentation like video and photographs are shared with Burning Man and the community so you can take your rightful place in the pantheon of Art Installations that have graced the playa.

I’m also told that on January 13th there will be an Art Grant Writing workshop in a yet to be determined location where you can work on your Grant form from 5:30 – 7:00pm then afterward the Art Lounge will be a celebration of Artists. It’ll be a great place to get pointers on putting together your Grant form and as always it will be a good time.

These Art Grants are meant to serve as seed money for a project and one common misconception is that Burning Man fully funds projects. If you’ve been around in the summer as projects are getting closer to coming into fruition on the playa, you know that just about every group that has grown up around an Art project is throwing fundraisers or setting up accounts for donations so they can get over that last final push to finish it and get it out there.

Why is that? Well there are two things the Grant process hopes to encourage. Those are Collaboration and Interactivity.

If you think about it, the process of building Art is as valuable as the actual appreciation of that Art. One year I built some carousels on the playa with a group of friends and we received a small grant from Burning Man. That grant helped us start working and without it, we probably wouldn’t have completed the project. It was indeed a seed that planted determination into our situation. In the process we, like everyone else who is foolhardy enough to try to make Art out there, brainstormed, had meetings and put together a fine group of artists and gear heads, engineers and heretics and other artistically inclined geniuses who all formed a bond as we shared our skills in fine art, iron work, carpentry and mechanical expertise among many things.

Future's Past by Kate Raudenbush - photo Moze
Future\’s Past by Kate Raudenbush – photo Moze

That process of organizing, designing, planning, buying then running low on money and having to scavenge and fund raise all on top of spending countless hours of sweaty back breaking work using the most dangerous tools in less than safe environments is key. The experience hardened us just enough so that we could face and conquer the challenges of then packing the whole thing up and taking it out to that god forsaken dry lake bed a week or so before the crowds arrived, so we could work twelve
hour days to set it up. Being part of an Art Installation is immensely fun and rewarding in an exhausting, insane, hard and blistering way.

When your workshop seems cozy compared to the empty canvas of the desert with its white outs and thunderstorms, one can begin to feel the creeping creature feeling. In that mix the artist finds themselves free to rearrange reality and bend their vision into anything that fits on the playa. And communities spring up from that kind of experience.

If you want to really see a person’s capacity for mettle, grit and sheer will power, do an Art installation with them on the playa. You will see people at their best and at their worst, and in the end the sweet taste of just sitting back and watching your gift there being climbed all over by tens of thousands of Burners, well, that is a sweet alkaline font to drink from.

Infinitarium by Big Art - photo Moze
Infinitarium by Big Art – photo Moze

Creating Art out there changes a person. Coming together with a group that evolves and pulls it off gives you a feeling of pride and ownership. If you survive the ordeal, many find that they congeal with their fellow provocateurs and a community begins to develop. That’s the hope of it anyway, because if Burning Man is about anything, it is about community

Some of our most amazing art has come from groups like the Flaming Lotus Girls or Big Art or Iron Monkeys, all who have been involved in the Honoraria process, and as those communities grow, they inspire other groups to manifest their ideas and those groups grow into communities and the process becomes a self fulfilling cycle, into perpetuity.

At least that’s what I hear.

Also, if you don’t want to deal with the Art Grant process, you should still register your art. You’ll be placed before the event and won’t need to worry about putting your piece up then being asked to move it because someone else is placed there. The art questionnaire opens the third Wednesday in February.

I do know that I truly enjoy going into the Burning Man office once the drawings, diagrams, paintings and models start coming in. I also love it when people start putting up their websites and discussing their ART for the new year on the various social forums. So go about your merry way you little drummer boys and girls and have a wonderful Holiday season figuring out what you’re going to build this year.

Tis the season…

About the author: Moze


John Mosbaugh aka Moze is a SF Bay Area heretic and writer who's been hauling himself out to Black Rock City since the Nebulous Entity first beckoned him to check out this phenomenon known as Burning Man. Moze is a "Life Collector" who scribbles down encounters with you to share on the blog. He enjoys the hyper reality of that week in the desert enough to keep coming back. He's been on the Burning Man web team since aught two and has written for Piss Clear and the YEP (Yahoo Education Project). He doesn't speak for the org and he finds you fascinating. He celebrates you and loves it when you take away ideas from Burning Man and share them with the rest of the world. He likes to make grilled cheese on Burn Night afternoon and gift it to you because you're probably hungry. Moze is a big fan of fire, art, freedom and community.

4 Comments on “Tis the Season for Art Grants

  • Spot-on observation on how communities develop through the process. Our crew is going through withdrawal from the loss of those fun Sundays of building together. I think we’re going bowling after New Years.

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  • John English says:

    Is it just me, for is there a problem with the Burning_Man_2011_Art_Grant_Proposal.pdf file? When I open it there’s just the text “To view the full contents of this document, you need a later version of the PDF viewer. You can upgrade
    to the latest version of Adobe Reader from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
    For further support, go to http://www.adobe.com/support/products/acrreader.html” I’ve tried several programs and versisons of Adobe’s PDF reader, but it seems like this is actually what the file contains. Weird. Any help?

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  • John English says:

    Problem solved:

    I tried using several non-Adobe PDF readers in Linux, and than OS-X, and nothing was working. I finally broke down and went into a Windows XP virtual machine and installed Adobe Reader X, and it worked. This, of course, isn’t much of a surprise, since the instructions say you need that version of Adobe’s reader, but this is the first time my open source alternatives haven’t worked. Now we know! :p

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  • Moze says:

    John, thanks for figuring this out. I’ve sent this along to the Burning Man web team and the Art folks so they will be aware of what you ran into if anyone else has issues.

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