There have been recent inquiries into FIGMENT's relationship with Santacon. Unfortunately, none of the so-called media outlets that have published articles have asked FIGMENT for comment prior to publishing. Therefore, we hereby voluntarily give the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Happy reading.
FIGMENT was conceptualized about ten years ago by a group of community organizers who were interested in participatory arts. Some recent articles have suggested that FIGMENT and Burning Man are related. To clarify, we have been inspired to some extent by the artistic and communal effort ethos of Burning Man, but we are in no way officially associated with Burning Man.
Santacon was originally an effort to bring participatory art into a public sphere, as illustrated by recent interviews with John Law from San Francisco's Cacophony Society. As such, many FIGMENT artists and organizers have participated in Santacon in the past, and many Santacon enthusiasts value the role that FIGMENT plays in bringing participatory art into a family-friendly public arena. FIGMENT accepted a donation from Santacon in 2013, and we were apparently one of four charities that were beneficiaries of the event.
Santacon has evolved from its roots, however, in a way that is perceived by many to be out of control and even dangerous. FIGMENT cannot be associated with an event of this nature, and we have decided not to accept any donations from Santacon this year.
As with our standing commitment not to accept corporate donations, we will make decisions on all future funders of FIGMENT with a priority of upholding the integrity of our work: FIGMENT is a free, family-friendly celebration of creativity that builds community and invites everyone to participate as an artist.
We at FIGMENT have been aware that there is crossover between participants of our events and Santacon. FIGMENT is a transparent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charity, but because Santacon organizers have remained hidden from the public and participants, there has been no way to know definitively of any potential overlap in current leadership.
Jim Glaser, a founding member of FIGMENT's Board of Directors, has stepped forward in his contributions to Santacon, much as he is involved with many participatory culture events. Jim looks forward to continuing to participate in FIGMENT as an artist and as founder of Kostume Kult, which provides kid-friendly costume giveaways each year at FIGMENT NYC. However, recognizing a conflict of interest, Jim has resigned from FIGMENT's Board of Directors. We thank him for his formative role in FIGMENT's development.
We value that there may be artistic and charitable intentions behind Santacon, and understand that individuals involved with FIGMENT may don a Santa hat for one day a year. However, we will continue to maintain that any conflict of interest between the leadership of the two organizations is unacceptable.