December 18, 2008
2008 was a highly successful year for the Black Rock Arts Foundation, as we continued to work diligently to ensure that art and community building remained on the public agenda and served as a tool for civic engagement. We awarded grants to 7 artists in 7 cities around the globe; we helped to create the Temple of the American Dream in a disadvantaged community in Detroit, which became a rallying point of pride for its residents; we transformed a vacant lot in downtown Reno into The Mangrove, a glorious sculpture garden and community gathering spot; and we brought the popular “Monkeys” zoetrope, Homouroboros, right into ethnically diverse downtown San Jose, where office workers and neighborhood families joined together to make it spin. (More details on all of these projects can be found on Black Rock Arts Foundation and right here on our blog.)
Recently I had the pleasure to address a group of some key supporters at the ARTumnal Gathering, our annual fundraising and community-building event. I talked about how inspired I am by Larry Harvey’s description of Burning Man’s 2009 theme, “Evolution.” In it, he states that Black Rock City is a kind of Petri Dish, that Burning Man is an experiment in generating culture and all that is needed is a fitting social vessel to sustain it. We see BRAF as a kind of genome tugboat – guiding that vessel of social culture, through dangerous waters, rivers, and uncharted tributaries – far from the Petri dish of the playa. For those of you who were able to attend the ARTumnal Gathering or have been engaged in other BRAF activities throughout the year, I think you’ll agree that BRAF has made great progress in bringing the ethos of art, interaction, and community “to the rest of the world the other 51 weeks of the year.” But we need your help to continue to fund, support and enable community-building, civic-minded, interactive arts projects and expand our reach to new regions.2009 brings with it the potential for many new and exciting projects in our three key program areas: Grants to Artists, Civic Arts, and ScrapEden, as well as the completion of our Civic Arts Toolkit to assist others with instigating art in their communities. Finally, as you might have noticed, BRAF itself continues to evolve and I have joined the organization as Executive Director. I look forward to this tremendous opportunity to inoculate communities worldwide with the Burning Man ethos and encourage you to be in touch with ideas about how to engage you, our community, in our mission. We are continually grateful for the extraordinary support and investment of our community. It is your donations that sustain us. Please consider showing your support once again by making an end-of-year contribution, so that we may bring even more innovative, interactive and community-building projects to cities worldwide in 2009.