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Dear Timescale column artists, supporters, donors, and friends:

As you’re probably aware, Burning Man is unable to fund Timescale. We’ve discussed whether there might be room to negotiate, and there simply isn’t. All of their art grant budget is committed to other projects. This has been a disappointment, but we understand that Burning Man received many beautiful, engaging proposals, and some difficult decisions had to be made. We look forward to seeing our friends’ successful projects, funded or not, on the playa this summer.

We have spent the last few weeks reviewing our own resources, discussing possible new sources of funding, and looking at ways to cut costs. After much effort, it became clear that a mile-long art project is inevitably expensive and time-consuming to build. The time spent on fundraising would directly impact the amount of time we could spend working on the project itself, especially since the work and the fundraising would have to start immediately.

When we add in projections for what we could realistically fundraise during a recession, it just doesn’t add up. We simply do not have the resources to build Timescale in a way that’s consistent with our artistic vision. We know this will disappoint the people who were looking forward to making column art, or to walking the corridor and gaining a deeper understanding of our planet’s history. We’re all quite sad that we won’t see 27 different visions for periods in Earth’s history. We received so many wonderful column proposals, and we’re truly sorry to have to walk away from the promise of such inspiring collaborations. However, at this point we’d have to make so many compromises for the project to succeed that it probably wouldn’t feel like a victory when we made it to the end. In the words of the inimitable Nina Rawkstah, “Burnout isn’t sexy.”

Upon the announcement that we’d lost funding, the outpouring of support, care, and offers of help from the community was an inspiration. Thank you all. Please don’t consider this a failure of our community, or a case where things could be different if we’d all tried harder. The scope of Timescale was set from the very beginning with the assumption of major grant funding. If we’d been denied funding initially, we’d probably have tossed the idea into the “too
expensive” pile and moved on. As it was, the momentum we built in the weeks following the original grant announcement allowed us to consider moving ahead regardless of funding status. At this point, we’re happy to have the team, even if the project can’t happen.

Since making this decision, our task has been to decide what to do now that we have a collection of motivated, interested artists who’ve cleared their schedules to build a big project. We’ve come up with a number of good ideas, narrowed it to the best one or two, and are already doing the preliminary design work. We have fourteen people and big box of tools — only good can come of it.

– Ian Baker, on behalf of the Timescale team

PS - Some people donated money to the project. We really, really appreciate that. Your donations will be returned over the next few days.

PPS - If you’re in the SF Bay area, please join us on Saturday, April 4th at 7pm for a Timescale Wake at NIMBY^2. We’ll take sledgehammers and explosives to some of our concrete test cylinders and column models to celebrate the creativity and dedication that was poured into this project before its untimely demise.

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