Photo credit: Leslie the Pony Lion and Amy. Photo © Sara Muskulus
Clarifying Statement on Art Policy
Posted – Feb 20, 2019
Dear FirePony Creative Society Community,
We would like to apologize to the community for not making it clear in our communication of the proposed FPCS Art Policy (see below) that the policy builds on the FPCS Code of Conduct. This is an omission that we feel caused a widespread misinterpretation of the policy released last week. As always, we want you to know we are listening to your concerns, and would like to respond to them here.
First, in regards to the art and artist from Constellation last Fall and reported by many in the community, the FPCS Conduct Committee is close to determining a course of action for the artist. We hope that this action, combined with the new art policy, will set a precedent for future events.
Second, in listening to the community’s feedback after Constellation about controversial and harmful art, it was clear that existing policies and procedures, which included the Code of Conduct, left gaps both for approaching these issues and for giving the community a way to know and feel they had a way to voice their concerns.
We are seeking to create a policy that involves the community in a more grassroots, sustainable solution. We do not believe a policy of top-down censorship is the answer, as we know that artists will always push the envelope, testing the boundaries of each new rule. By stating our intention behind this art policy, we are asking the community to step in as a more active participant by helping to review submissions and actively manage art at FPCS events. We are asking members of the community to become art team members for each event, and take on the difficult challenge of reviewing and managing art on site, working alongside rangers, event leads, and perhaps even sanctuary volunteers to address and respond to instances where art may potentially offend or harm participants, whether physically, emotionally, or psychologically. We are asking for members of the community to review complaints on a case-by-case basis, engage with artists, and help determine whether an artist’s behavior (when combined with their art) ultimately violates the Code of Conduct.
WHAT THE STATEMENT OF INTENT: FPCS ART POLICY IS AND IS NOT:
- It is NOT a final decision regarding the art piece or artist in question from Constellation 2018
- It is building on a policy for all FPCS events that all participants are expected to adhere to the FPCS Code of Conduct. Participants who fail to adhere to the Code of Conduct, which can be found here (https://firepony.org/code-of-conduct/) will be removed from the event, along with their possessions, which would include any art they may have brought. Hate Speech is among the behaviors defined in the Code of Conduct considered unacceptable at FPCS events, and which is defined as anything that consists of an incitement to hatred primarily against a group of people defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
- It is an attempt to develop a policy which enables us to respond to art on a case-by-case basis, working together as a community to provide an opportunity for artists to engage in whatever dialogue they’re striving to have, without violating the Code of Conduct or putting the safety of participants at risk.
The Art Teams for all FirePony events will be helping to shape and enforce this new policy during the coming events. And once again, we invite you to take an active part of the art selection and management process by joining the Art Team for either:
- Playa del Fuego (firstname.lastname@example.org) or
- Constellation (email@example.com)
Finally, we invite you to learn more about the FPCS Conduct Committee and how to report incidents here. We are, and have been for some time, actively recruiting members of the community to support our efforts to review and investigate conduct complaints. The Conduct Committee will hear and respond to incidents occurring at official FPCS sponsored events as well as incidents at any other time or place that are a concern to community members. Contact the team if you’d like to learn more about what’s involved at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have additional questions or concerns about this proposed policy, we invite you to contact us at board(at)firepony.org.
The FirePony Creative Society Board of Directors
Statement of Intent: Art Policy
Posted February 14, 2019
After Constellation 2018, the community of the FirePony Creative Society reported via social media that they found a particular piece of art, which was displayed at the event, cruel and offensive. As a result, the FPCS board actively requested feedback from the community, and we received emails from over 50 people, many of whom criticized both the piece and the artist, and demanded that both be banned from future events. Still many others defended what they saw as the artist’s right to create art that challenges an individual’s sense of comfort, social norms, or even basic human decency. The FPCS board also spoke with members of the Burning Man Regionals Network, board members and event planners from other Regional burns, and reviewed instances of censorship within the Burning Man community and beyond.
After much discussion, the FPCS board has decided to address the likelihood that such potentially controversial art will appear at future FPCS events, and to stand strongly against the censorship of art. We have decided to formalize a process to anticipate, and respond to such pieces. As such, we will follow the Burning Man model of identifying controversial pieces, and require placement of said pieces in specially designated areas. This effort is to help ensure that event participants will be forced to actively choose to engage with the art or not, much like they do for events hosted at theme camps throughout the weekend. In addition, we will expect that artists who bring pieces marked as controversial fully engage in dialogue around issues that the art raises, in-person and on-site, through scheduled (and likely un-scheduled) artist talks.
Members of the Art Teams for all FirePony events will be helping to drive these efforts, and we invite you to take an active part of the art selection and management process by joining the Art Team for either: