Birds aren’t Real.


In April 2012, KindleArts sponsored Edd, Morgan, Ashes, and I to travel down to San Francisco to Burning Man Mecca. We attended a 3-day leadership summit that gathered hundreds of movers and shakers from around the world. While each person was there for their own reasons, it was predominantly a knowledge-sharing and networking conference. Much was learned by meeting with other community leaders, who had created new ways of embracing the Burning Man ethos or had been building their communities over many years.

I compiled my notes after the Summit. It was important to us that we share what we learned with others in the hope that they will find inspiration and the spark to start something. Here’s what I learned:

Workshops attended:

  1. Meeting skills for artists
  2. Fundraising 101
  3. Cross-Regional Art Collaboration
  4. Public Arts Events
  5. Event Production 101 & 201
  6. Social Networking


  1. Meeting skills for artists:
    1. meeting participants want to feel one or more of these during meetings: responsible, accountable, consulted, informed. These should be taken into account when facilitating meetings
    2. use the ‘Bitch and Pitch’ rule
    3. be transparent will all of your information
  2. Fundraising 101:
    1. one person (NOT the primary artist or key collaborator) should be the fundraising manager
    2. budget budget budget everything before fundraising. You need to be able to tell everyone where the money is going at any point during the project
    3. develop a strategy for starting
    4. use social media and target specific audiences
    5. keep donors in the loop – email list – and thank them
    6. don’t just ask for money, ask for non-monetary items and borrow, when possible
  3. Cross-Regional Art Collaboration
    1. there is a desire within the larger BM community to create a art database. This is useful if an artist is visiting Vancouver or Seattle because Victoria can approach them to bring their project to us.
    2. there should be a regional art ambassador that acts like a point of contact to other regions and, in turn, disseminates info to the local community
    3. incentives to artists: cover transportation costs, offer use of forklift, generator, etc
  4. Public art events:
    1. first step in creating an event: have a date and venue. Look to neighbouring communities for venues if told no to the desired venue.
    2. have a Communications Director who sends a release to EVERYONE
    3. ensure that all parties involved understand the Principles of the event (ie. no blatant advertisements, no sponsorship, leave no trace, etc)
    4. keep it family friendly and free
    5. share art and artists from other regional
    6. see Figment Project,
  5. Event Production:
    1. create an Operations Manual for the community
    2. archive all relevant info and post online
    3. keep a folder of all insurance and contact info at the event for easy access
    4. build a legitimacy portfolio (letters of recommendation, case studies of successful projects, references)
    5. make friends with the fire dept.
  6. Social Networking:
    1. ask yourself, WWRD? What would Rangers do? To be used when facing conflict online.
    2. vary your messages across the different platforms (Twitter, FB, website)
    3. ask people to like/follow you
    4. develop a brand personality and set guidelines for how to communicate that brand
    5. tie your project to a global interest to garner more interest
    6. find burner “values” in every event and advertise those values

Biggest takeaways:

  • Networking with some very inspirational people. Check out:
    • Atlanta’s Alchemy Festival and their art grant process
    • David Koren and Jason Turgeon, Figment Project
    • Beth Cotton, director for Austin’s 2011 CORE project
    • Zoltan, Calgary’s Regional Contact
  • Meeting the BMOrg and having them help our regions shape the future
  • the entire social media workshop with Will Chase
  • some big personal development and courage boosting. I now know what I want to do when I grow up.

Projects inspired by the Summit:

  • bring Figment to Victoria
  • create a new social media/online culture
  • a Western Canada Meta-Regional somewhere in the Rockies
  • speed Kindle Arts Society incorporation process up
  • work with nearby regions to share info and art
Amara’s Post-Leadership Summit Report or How You Helped Me Transform Our Community
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