In February all artists interested in getting funded to create an art piece for Burning Man have to send in a proposal to the event’s organization. After careful review, they attribute grants to a certain amount of projects, that they believe the artist will be able to create. The largest grants are often attributed to artists that have a history with Burning Man, as they are “trusted”, and the smaller grants will be awarded to anyone with a “good’ proposal. The selection process has always been a little obscure since it’s all about art and it’s not easy to define how to choose the best art. But the Burning Man office also has certain criteria beyond the artistic value, such as feasibility, safety, interactivity, as well as the collaborative aspect.
One aspect about the grants is that Burning Man doesn’t want the artists to reveal publicly how much they were awarded. There might a good reason for this, but it seems that opening the books is a better way to go. I don’t believe there’s any secret in letting the public know that recurring artists have more chances to get more money. Also depending on the artists, more money can be spent to create the art piece than awarded by Burning Man. Money that often comes from the pocket of the artist himself, and sometimes from fundraising.
One more note, the grants are only meant to buy materials, transportation for the piece. Nobody is supposed to get paid making the art pieces. And most times nobody does. The large majority of the collaborative groups that bring art are composed of people who have a day-job and work on their Burning Man projects nights and weekends. This is the huge invisible force that makes Burning Man worth it and interesting. All these people working for free all year-around so there’s something spectacular to experience out there in the desert. Working hard so it doesn’t just turn into a simple party.
The Flaming Lotus Girls have had grants from Burning Man since 2003. The first one was for the Hand of God followed, by the Seven Sisters in 2004, the Angel of the Apocalypse in 2005, the Serpent Mother in 2006, and Mutopia in 2008. In 2009 they sent in a new proposal called SOMA, which is getting a new grant.
The Flaming Lotus Girls are also making appearance at Coachella, the massive music festival in the valley of the 1,000 golf courses, i.e. Palm Springs, CA. They will be bringing the Serpent Mother.