As I was packing, I took a break to read up on some emails and in my inbox, I found a message from the 2014 Board of Directors. They wanted me to send along a special and important note regarding art, safety and insurance. During your packing frenzy, please take a break and read the following note from the Board of Directors.
See you in about a week!!
Dear creative community,
As you know, we have been discussing the issues of safety and insurability within our community for well over a year. The upshot of these discussions is that the Board of Directors, in consultation with representatives from the Burning Man Project (the arm of BMORG which interfaces with regional events) have enacted some new policies to protect Apogaea, Inc., our volunteers, and the assets which we have been able to accumulate (and which enable us to throw such a large, complex, and incredible event). These policies boil down to a simple principle: we all need to be careful to avoid creating art or experiences which would subject other participants to an unreasonable risk of serious physical harm. This is really nothing more than common sense and basic decency – no one wants to see a friend, camp-mate, or community member seriously injured (or worse) because of something they did. This communication addresses the safety of art and events as Apogaea and, specifically, is intended to give you some advance guidance about how Apogaea will be addressing issues of participant safety.
First, YOU are responsible for your safety and that of people in your camp. If someone is hurt at your camp, you could be held responsible. We recommend searching out insurance for your camp if possible and, more importantly, making sure that your camp is constructed and operated in a safe and reasonable way. Our insurance protects the Apogaea, Inc. organization and volunteers doing certain event related work as set out in the policy. It does not protect you individually as a participant or theme camp. Please take this into consideration and plan accordingly. You may wish to consider having your own insurance or asking participants in certain activities to sign a waiver of claims in favor of you or your camp.
Second, Apogaea, Inc. cannot oversee every piece of art, camp, or activity during our event. However, should Apogaea volunteers notice something which appears to them to be unreasonably dangerous, someone from the organization may request that you address the situation. They will not tell you what to do, only that something may pose a potential concern. In other words, Apogaea is not responsible for figuring out how to make your art “safer” but we may tell you that unless you solve an obvious problem the art will have to be closed from interactions (i.e. if you build an unstable structure we may require that you not have people climbing on it), monitored by your camp during use, or even removed from the event or substantially altered. The board member on duty will ultimately make this call after consultation with internal resources such as BAMF and the Ranger lead. If you find yourself being asked to address a possible safety issue, please be cooperative and reasonable. This is an important issue and, while we appreciate that many people have different opinions, if a participant will not work with the organization on a safety issue that participant and their art will not be allowed to continue participating. We don’t want to be assholes (except Eric, so god-help you if he is on duty). Please don’t put us in the position where we have to be.
Third, there are some sorts of things which our insurance will not cover at all. These things will not be allowed at the event. Some of these, as relevant to you, are: “use of Trampolines or inflatable devices … Bungee Jumping … Water Slides … Mountain Climbing … Rock Climbing … Ballooning, Parachuting, use of Luges, Tobogganing and all Motor Sports.” We realize most of these activities won’t apply and we are probably only talking about trampolines (in this example). But please note that similar activities (i.e. climbable play structures) are going to be looked at very, very carefully and will probably be disallowed to the extent they pose a serious risk of injury. The “collapse of temporary structures” is also excluded from our policy, which means that any art or other structure you erect must be absolutely stable and compliant with all applicable building codes and safety guidelines. Again, anything that seems to be an unreasonable risk will have to be addressed by the artist/camp responsible for it. Our entire policy is posted here – please review it. While Apogaea cannot give you advice on how to interpret the policy, the policy may give you some insight into our thinking around safety issues that may arise.
Fourth, we worked VERY hard to get appropriate insurance for the event. We understand there are differences of opinion and we have endeavored to listen and make an informed decision. We also worked hard to identify potential issues during the creative grant and placement process. However, if you see something that appears unreasonably dangerous please report this situation to our Rangers or the board member on duty immediately.
We appreciate your assistance and cooperation. See below for links to the insurance documents.