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Thursday, May 05, 2005

a bush burns in the desert while a pharoah hoses it down

Need it be repeated that regulations only stifle competition? You bet! Again and again until everyone knows the mantra.
Having homesteaded the fire arts festival in the desert niche, Burning Man has grown into a large enough operation that it requires significant paperwork and money be given to various government agencies. Since much of the territory was untread, the process of discovering how much the government could bleed out of the annual event took several years and a lot of wrangling. Detente was finally reached and the festival went on to make plenty of scratch for the governmental vultures.
Enter Burning Bush, an non-profit alternative to Burning Man designed to bring back some of the artistic freedom and sense of community that was lost when the Burning Man festival grew too large. It managed to bring together many artists that felt the older festival had moved in a direction contrary to their ideals. Although never quite under the radar nor undisturbed by the Federales, Burning Bush managed to happen without much interference...until this year. For whatever reason (conspiracy, critical mass, someone at the BLM needs new shoes) the BLM is asking for a lot more money upfront (approx. $6700 for 340 people to camp in the desert for five days.) It's an amount that Burning Man could cover easily but not the much smaller Burning Bush. For all the bitching Burning Man officials did when the BLM was on their tails for money, it seems that in the end those payoffs benefited Burning Man by possibly eliminating their first real competition. Hopefully, Burning Bush will be able to find the money or a private location on which to hold their event but it just goes to show that once again the government only knows how to ruin a good thing.

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