Birth of a Foundation
The Black Rock Arts Foundation was established in May of 2001 in response to the need to promote community-based exhibitions of interactive art and support the artists and organizations that create it; the impetus was spawned by the lack of accessible, free art to the public that invites direct action with the piece and inspires community.
Several parties who direct Burning Man formed a new non-profit corporation and filed for tax-exempt status with the IRS in July 2001. The Black Rock Arts Foundation received its 501(c)3 status in November 2001.
The World Needs the Black Rock Arts Foundation
There are currently no dedicated sources of arts funding that address the explicit support and facilitation of interactive art, despite a 45-year history of such work going back to Allan Kaprow’s Happenings of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Artists are typically poorly educated in the development of collaborative strategies and techniques for artistic production and non-institutional audience development. The Black Rock Arts Foundation facilitates an opportunity for the evolution of such an education, which will be increasingly necessary as we move from a society based on institutional hierarchies toward a society based on informal project-driven networks.
The Mission or Primary Goal of the Foundation
The mission of the Black Rock Arts Foundation is to support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation.
For our purposes, interactive art means art that generates social participation. The process whereby this art is created, the means by which it is displayed, and the character of the work itself should inspire immediate interactions that connect people to one another in a larger communal context.
The primary goal of the Black Rock Arts Foundation is to promote a revival of art’s culture-bearing and connective function by removing art from its context in the marketplace and reintegrating it into communal settings.
Our Goals and Programs
Our goals and programs in pursuit of this mission are fivefold:
- Artist Grants:
Furnish artists with direct financial aid for the production and display of interactive art works, with particular emphasis on those artists whose goals and projects operate beyond the institutional mainstream.
- Community Development:
Assist these artists to develop communal networks by facilitating contact with public institutions that can supply them with material resources, technical assistance, volunteer services and financial aid.
Identify and support sites of public presentation for the display of interactive artwork, with special emphasis on venues that emphasize the civic function of such works.
- Educational Outreach:
Educate a larger public concerning the spiritual value and social relevance of interactive art.
- Career Development:
Assist artists in documenting and representing their work in public media and to other institutions.
Strategy for Raising Funds
We fundraise through individual memberships and donations from community groups.
The Community and Network of the Black Rock Arts Foundation
Although the Black Rock Arts Foundation was founded by several partners who produce Burning Man, the Black Rock Arts Foundation aims to establish a completely separate identity and organization for the purposes noted in the mission and goals listed above.
As the organization develops, there will be four primary groups that will be connected to the Foundation and its programs:
- Artists and artist networks
- Sponsoring individuals, organizations and public venues
- Project volunteers
- Diverse community networks and participating audiences
We Support and Encourage Diverse Audiences and Radical Inclusion
Our organization’s mission, goals and artistic direction all emphasize diversity by promoting a revival of art’s culture-bearing and connective function by removing art from its context in the marketplace, reintegrating art into communal settings and imparting to the work a civic function. It is art that is inexpensive and available to everyone regardless of socio-economic background. We support art and venues that are readily accessible to those who do not normally frequent the halls of art, as these individuals comprise one of our primary audiences.
Organizational Structure & Leadership: Role of the Board and Staff
The Black Rock Arts Foundation is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of Nevada and has its primary place of business and office at 3450 Third Street, San Francisco, California. The corporation is also registered as a foreign corporation in the State of California. The corporation filed for charitable 501(c) 3 tax-exempt status with the I.R.S. in July 2001 and received its initial determination letter in 2001.
The Board of Directors is made up of an art professor from the San Francisco Art Institute, five partners from the Black Rock City LLC, as well as, a lawyer, a business woman, a project manager, a local artist, and a full time instigator. Membership (non-voting) is available to others who wish to support the organization. Board meetings are held bi-monthly at the Foundation’s office in San Francisco. The Executive Liason runs the Foundation’s programs from the main office. The executive committee, made up of officers of the Board, supervises the Executive Director.
Interactive Art: Gaining Perspective
Some, but not many, expert opinions, research articles and works describe the need for interactive art. The New Dionysianism, by Mark Van Proyen (New Art Examiner, July/August 1999), functions as a kind of manifesto for this type of art. Happenings, by Terry Kirby is currently out of print. Also of interest is the collection of Allan Kaprow’s writings that is available from UC Press (edited by Jeff Kelly).
The history and literature on the need for this type of art is quite extensive. Anna Halprin’s work in experimental dance looms quite large, and the European history is huge. The catalog for LA MOCA’s “Out of Actions” exhibition (1998) is an excellent resource.