On Sunday, Burners Without Borders (BWB) helped four Burner projects put their money where their mouths are by announcing the winners of the Walk the Talk Grant Program.
At the closing session of the GLC, Christopher Breedlove, the BWB Program Director, and Eli Peterson, Burning Man Arts Programs Services Manager, announced $3000 worth of grants to three art projects and one civic project, including one as far-flung as Vietnam.
The following art projects were awarded grants:
- Tintinnabularium, an interactive sound sculpture, received $250. The Utah sculpture will be combined with another Utah Regional Contact project, which is building a community garden project at a homeless shelter.
- Youth Creativity Workshops in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, received $750. This project will connect and inspire young people via eight art workshops at community centres, hospitals, temples and churches across the city. The art and stories will be collected and turned into an exhibition to be displayed in central areas of Ho Chi Minh City.
- The Avery 108 Project received $500. This project will create kits for building the prototype of a novel geodesic structure and distribute them to schools, maker spaces and art groups.
A $1500 civic grant was also awarded to the Rochester Digital Playground. This project aims to help teens acquire transferable technical skills and spark their creativity in a city where the graduation rate averages 40 percent and drops to 8 percent among African American males.
The teens will help build a metal LED-enhanced seesaw, which will be placed in front of the city’s Central Library
Now in its fourth year, the Walk the Talk Grant Program is a timely reminder to GLC participants as they wrap up four days of skill sharing and relationship building to turn their connections and conversations into action.
It was this need for action that led Christopher to launch the Walk the Talk Grant Program at the GLC in 2013.
“There is so much great conversation at the GLC but I’m always looking for a way to help make things we talk about here a bit more real: a little less conversation, a lot more action,” Christopher says.
“The cool thing is that we expanded the grants program this year: it has only been for civic engagement for the last three years. This year it was also for an art project.”
The Civic Grant aims to fund programs that create collaborations, produce direct actions, utilize the 10 Principles of Burning Man, are reproducible, and creatively tackle local problems.
The Art Grant is for projects that create collaborations, break down the distinction between audience and artist, are directly interactive and/or enhance the public, civic sphere.
The process is something to talk about too. Instead of using a more traditional panel model to judge applicants, Christopher has developed a more collaborative process.
“I’m really into democratic granting processes because I believe that the community can decide better where the ultimate value our money should be going than any type of judging council,” he says. “The community is just super big, and I’m interested in what they would choose.”
This year, 69 GLC participants gathered at a breakout workshop on Saturday, where they were divided into groups and given one of the 11 civic art grant applications or nine art grant applications.
After reading their particular application, all the groups came back together to advocate for their project and to whittle down the list by sharing thoughts, suggestions and questions.
“We usually end up with a big ‘no’ pile and a big ‘yes’ pile,” Christopher says, “and that’s where the deeper and richer conversation comes from: what is going to add the most value and what is going to have the most impact?”
The GLC grant workshop has its genesis in Chicago, where Christopher was Regional Contact.
“Back in Chicago, we were running our own grant programs for arts, but I felt people were disconnected from the grants in a lot of ways,” says Christopher.
“So I created the Chicago Grant Program where we invited people in to give us pitches with five minutes of Q & As. People would all sit around and eat a dinner together, and then everyone voted, and two of the programs walked away with cash that evening.”
But never fear! If you’ve only just stumbled across this grants program, BWB is also running a Community Micro Grant Program, which closes on June 1. You can find out more information and apply here.