Why won’t the BM Org Support Sound Camps?

Last year representatives from different Large Scale Sound & Art Camps (LSSACs) such as the Opulent Temple, El Circo, the Deep End, Green Gorilla, and others talked and met with reps from Burning Man to dialogue about ways BM could support us. Here is a summary of that effort and more recent ones, if you’re curious. Sorry about the length, but wanted to give a fair accounting of events and perspectives. Feel free to share. We are not posting this to cause a ruckus, but simply to inform the community. There has been misinformation floating around about these conversations, and that BM decided to give us some things we asked for. We wish it were true. This summary also under scores how the support of camps like the OT have to come pretty much soley from the community.

The premise was basically that collectively we’ve felt like we give a lot to the event. Which, of course, is fine; it’s why we started creating such camps in the first place. But – we hoped we might get more support and resources from the BM org to do what we do since it is our perception the role of the Large Scale Sound & Art Camps has evolvedto be an integral part of a large number of attendee’s experience and reason for coming. (Obviously we know this is a matter of debate…) BM decides to grant thousands of dollars per year to certain art pieces, what, if anything, would they be willing to help us with? We knew there was no way we’d get direct funding, so…

Last year we asked for 5 things

1. The ability to apply for art grants. At the time of the meeting it was too late for the ’07 event. Harley said to ask again next year, which we did. More on that below…

2. An allotment of free or discounted tickets to the core builders of established LSSACs. Harley said she’d think about it, and then asked me to turn in a proposal of sorts for why we think we deserved some (us as in specifically the Opulent Temple). We did so, and the final answer was still no, though she did give the OT 2 tickets as a good will gesture, which were appreciated.

3. For BM to provide at their expense 2 large generators, one for 2:00 and one for 10:00, that multiple LSSACs could tie into, -and / or – for fuel or cabling cost support. The answer was no, though we did get the name of the vendor BM used in the hopes of getting in on a bulk deal. This ended up not a big asset, as I don’t think we got any kind of bulk discount from the vendor, we just dealt with them directly.

4. Increased access to Art Services resources on playa. This was a yes, and was helpful to some camps, including the Opulent Temple.

5. If it ever came up, the ability for donators to LSSACs to donate through BM’s 501c so they can get a tax break. This was a no, due to the specific mission of the 501 (BRAF) being for art off playa, not on.


This year we reinitiated the conversation on items 1, 2 & 3. Here’s what happened.

Re: #1 We wrote a proposal to the Board, per Harley’s request on opening up the art grant process to camps on the Esplanade and 10 & 2,with the argument being that, because of their location, they were in the public domain, and the public would be able to have access to the (potentially) greater art because they were supported by increased funding. This was not just about the Sound Camps. The proposal was to open up the current application process to these camps, not an increase in funding or special category or considerations, etc.

Harley supported the idea, (and we thank her for that !) and presented it to the Board, and her initial response back to us to the first round of discussions was that the proposal sparked a good discussion, our points were well taken and valid, and the outcome looked good so far…

They were even discussing a separate funding stream and application deadline for us. It all looked rosy….

Then Larry got back from a trip (he was not present at the first discussion) and jettisoned the idea because he didn’t like it. He personally called me (Syd) to tell me why, the best summary I can give is he didn’t like complicating things by changing the policy (grants only for art on the open playa). Nor did they want to deal with community reaction about why now some camps could apply and others could not. He said if a theme camp has a piece on the open playa they can apply, but they don’t want to consider to fund art pieces within a camp’s area. He didn’t like the idea of increasing the budget so they could fund some theme camp art (even though we never asked the art grant budget be increased), he didn’t like the messiness it would introduce with other theme camps complaining they couldn’t apply, and related community reaction of people saying


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