Every June in Valdez, several thousand people gather to celebrate art, performance, sustainability and radical inclusion and self-reliance at Apogaea, an official regional Burning Man event in Colorado. During the four days of the festival, artists from around the states gather to practice their freedom of expression in a variety of different ways from painting, to propane (fire) art, painted art, lighting art, and theme camps that pull viewers into different worlds. Building on the idea of creating unique interactive spaces, this year’s theme is portals.

To help draw in artists and support their expression, the festival offers numerous grants to both experienced artists and those who are just beginning their creative journey.

“We have two rounds of art grants,” said Chelsea Trinka, a member of Apogaea’s Creative Art Team Support (CATS). “We have our big money round for artists who may be a little more experienced in doing installation art or a large scale piece they may want to take to other festivals. These tend to be really core pieces in the event and things that really make an impression on people on a larger scale. Those get funded up to $6000.”

“Then we have a smaller round, which is our seed round and this is a round where we’re really trying to encourage new artists or those who have never considered themselves artists,” Trinka said. “That round provides grants up to $1200 with the idea that it can be great funding to create something new.”

Trinka said there were several goals the team has established to make the festival more than just about music.

“A lot of the goals behind the grants are to make funding art a priority of the event so that it’s not just a music festival and becomes more participatory,” Trinka said. “Our grants are the single biggest budget item in the Apogaea budget. Over 25 percent of our budget goes towards our grants and can be anything from performance art to painting, to a sculpture, or something to climb on, or propane art for fire effects or light art.”

“Another goal is to encourage people who maybe haven’t been to a Burning Man event to participate,” said Trinka, “and create art to bring different perspectives, flavors, and aesthetics to the event.”

Lawrence Phipps, Apogaea’s public outreach spokesperson added that the event is an opportunity for burgeoning artists or creative people to find their style of expression. Sometimes, Apogaea serves as the springboard for artists to go on professionally.

“This is where people discover themselves as an artist,” said Phipps. “It’s an interesting thing where you see people have an idea and start and pursue their passion and many of them are working to establish themselves as full time artists. This is a place where artists can actualize their dreams.”

Phipps also expressed that he would love to see more Trinidad local artists contribute and take advantage of the grants they offer.

“Trinidad clearly presents itself as an arts community with a lot of history and legacy as well,” said Phipps. “We would love to extend the invitation to other creators in Trinidad and the Las Animas and surrounding areas. I’m not sure if many people in Trinidad are aware that these grants are available to them, but we would love to make ourselves more visible to the locals.”

For anyone who has never applied for a grant before, Trinka said it shouldn’t be anything to be scared of and that CATS is available to help anyone who asks.

“We have a lot of support for people that are applying for their first grant,” Trinka said. “There’s a lot of resources we’ve written on our website that shows them how to write a great grant, what information to include, questions that we ask and we also have a dedicated part of the team called the Creative Art Team Support (CATS) that are there to answer any questions about the grant. Ultimately we want to see artists be successful.”

Anyone with questions regarding the grants available for artists is encouraged to email the CATS at grants@apogaea.com. The big money grant round is open until January 31 with the seed money grant round opening on March 1.

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