Local Burning Man projects turn to crowd funding
August 17, 2013
With the annual festival in the desert this weekend, Burners in the Lake Tahoe area are putting the final touches on their camps, art and art cars.
What's different about this year is many of those groups have turned to crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter.com and Indiegogo.com to raise funds.
"We're trying to pay for the cost of running the boat," said Flipper Manchester, who's trying to raise as much as $30,000 through Indiegogo.com for his 65-foot yacht art car, Christina. "I love bringing it out there, but it is work and it does cost money."
Increasingly, attendees of Burning Man have turned to crowd funding to sponsor their projects. A simple keyword search on Indiegogo yields more than 7,000 campaigns related to the festival. Though not all projects will get the funding they need, Burning Man, with its collaborative nature, fits the model.
In the past, several massive projects like last year's The Pier 2, a sprawling wooden pier complete with sunken pirate ship at the end, have been funded through crowd funding. This year, a full-size model of a 50-foot ichthyosaur, a pyramid-shaped temple, and three South Lake Tahoe art cars have raised or are raising funds through Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
"It opens up a whole lot more access for people that don't live in your area," said Michael Beaudoin, owner of the Tahoe Tessie art car. "They can just go online. It only takes a few minutes to throw down a donation."
Beaudoin will use the $2,500 he raised for improvements to the big green rig. Just to tow the vehicle to the Black Rock Desert costs around $1,800, he said. Though the expenses go far beyond what they raised through Kickstarter, the campaign spurs other donations too, he added.
"It also generates open-handed donations," Beaudoin said. "Some people like to help and they don't have any money they can give you. Anything anybody can do always helps."
A camp dubbed "Shark Week" out of South Lake Tahoe is raising funds for their new art car, "Carcharius." They finished an Indiegogo campaign with more than $2,900. A small group of the campers hammered, drilled, welded and sewed on the art car Aug. 14.
"Three weeks ago this looked like nothing," said South Lake Tahoe resident Jason Gilbert, who's done the welding on the UFO-shaped mutant vehicle. "Everything we're doing now, we're going to have to take apart in a few days."
The 30-foot long flatbed will have to morph into a street-legal automobile to make the trip to Burning Man.
The crew of Christina will spend the money they raise on new lights, a bigger, better sound system, fuel and other improvements. Manchester said he also has to pay designated drivers and mechanics to come to the festival and help manage the vehicle. There's also the $2,500 fee for storage when the giant land yacht is not on the playa.
"We're trying to reach everyone out there that's been on the boat or has any interest in Burning Man," Manchester said.
As with Carcharius and Tessie, the volunteers have spent well over what they've raised. But each year it's worth the effort, Manchester said.
"I enjoy it because everyone that comes to the boat thanks me and thinks it's the best art car around," he said.