Apogaea 2014 and Safety


Hello Apogaeans, Flaming Art here to talk about my favorite subject: art! To be a bit more specific, art and safety.

This year, 2014, will be the tenth year that Apogaeans gather up our greatest artistic creations, drag them high into the Colorado mountains, and share them with each other. I don’t have to tell you lovelies how we Apogaeans like to take things to the extreme. We don’t just like costumes, we have a whole theme camp dedicated to giving out hundreds of pounds of costumes. Everybody likes beautiful wood sculptures, but we create some of the most amazing wooden sculptures and then we burn them into ashes! You say that you prefer your sculptures made of metal? Well, ours come with flame effects and molten metal eyeballs. We’re not your normal artists.

Unlike most events our size, Apogaea is thrown by the community and for the community. In the decade that we’ve been coming together, we’ve also grown ourselves into an official 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to better fit in and relate with the rest of the default world. This year we plan to donate $50,000 to local artists to create their masterpieces for our enjoyment in June.

While we may be extreme, we have developed excellent relationships of mutual respect and appreciation with our local law enforcement and emergency response services. All of this happens, of course, because our community is founded on notions of civic responsibility and radical self-reliance. This translates into an event that has grown, and succeeded, in ways that defy the traditional opinions of comparable “transformative festivals.” Yeah, we’re special like that. We do it right.

This year, the Board of Directors, following direction from the mothership known to some as Burning Man Org, have taken a much deeper and critical look into safety. As we grow, it has become time for the board to integrate policies of safety into the very DNA of the Apogaea organization. The first step was deeply integrating safety concerns into our criteria for evaluating what art projects your money funds. Who wants to pay to get hurt, right? The second step is to integrate safety checks into the placement procedures to ensure every piece of art gets checked out for obvious problems. Finally, as a third step, the board will have official eyes on-the-ground at Apo to keep a look out for what might be dangerous.

So, how does the Apogaea org evaluate what’s safe? First they start with insurance! The org makes sure we have lots of fabulous insurance coverage each year. The procedures added to our creative grant and placement process are designed to make sure anything your money funds will be covered by the org’s policy, “inasmuch as it is possible.” But what happens if your non-funded risky art isn’t covered by Apogaea’s insurance policies? That’s where radical self reliance comes in. If you cover your extra-extreme art piece with adequate insurance, and name Apogaea, our wonderful landowner, and Burningman org as additional insureds, it can still be a part of Apogaea. Naturally, we will need an official certificate of insurance from the artist on file before the event if you want to go this route. Speaking of insurance, it is not the worst idea for theme camps to self-insure for the event even if they do not plan on bringing art that may not be covered by Apogaea’s policy.

Second to the restrictions created by our insurance, the org plans to apply basic common sense – much the way we have with fire safety for many years. As an example, if you made a pretty decorative pillow, bring it! However, if you made a 4 story tall climbing structure with no handrails, putting that decorative pillow under it might not be enough to adequately keep your friends safe from a fall. If an art installation is likely to hurt someone, the org will be working with that artist to find a way to make the piece reasonably safe. Ultimately, in the most extreme cases, the org may even ask some artists to keep their art at home.

All of you are partners in this process. If you identify something that is a safety risk in your camp or at the event, do something about it! Use your common sense when deciding what to bring to Apogaea. If your camp includes art that people might want to interact with in ways that concern you, like climbing something that wasn’t exactly intended for climbing, post signs telling people what your expectations are. Most of all use your common sense. No one wants to see their friends (or even strangers) get hurt.

Let me tell you, the Board of Directors feels an obligation to safeguard the community against the risk of serious injury. They also have to balance the kind of complex and often confusing legal and financial risk concerns that must be met to allow Apogaea to continue to happen. We have a ten year track record of doing it right; let’s keep that track record going!

Of course, many community members have already begun to ask, “What is reasonably safe?” This burning question is super important! However, the board is still actively working to iron out a clear policy and details. Some questions might still be very hard to answer today. Don’t worry, your favorite super-hero here, Flaming Art, will publish and share plenty of detailed information so we’re all in the know, ya know?

If you have questions or concerns, please bring them to our next public board meeting this Sunday, January 19th, 2014 at the Fusion Factor in Denver. The board will be taking a moment out of their busy schedule to listen to your voices and attempt to answer what questions they can. Community feedback is always important; after all, this is your event. However, as your elected leaders of the organization, the Board of Directors are very serious about making sure everyone’s concerns are equally addressed and integrated into a fair and effective policy. Please remember to give everyone’s concerns room of consideration.

Hotter than two rats making love in a wool sock in a pepper patch,
Flaming Art

Arthur Flaming