Chronicle: Burning Man Now “Mainstream”

The San Francisco Chronicle has written about Burning Man’s non-profit transition. They’re a bit late to the punch, and skip over the fundamental details, but they’re praiseworthy nonetheless, and there seems to be some new information here about BMOrg’s future plans.

photo Frederic Larson, The Chronicle

photo Frederic Larson, The Chronicle

Burning Man, the desert bacchanalia for 68,000, has officially left the counterculture and become part of the mainstream. It is now a certified nonprofit just like the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet and Opera.

…Burning Man became too big for the LLC. A week in the desert extended to spontaneous year-round activities referred to as “the regional network.”

The original LLC could not control or support the burner culture worldwide, so in 2011 the nonprofit Burning Man Project was formed to operate separately but in the same headquarters building as the Burning Man LLC. It has taken another three years to transition the LLC into a subsidiary of the nonprofit Burning Man Project.

This means that both the annual Burning Man and the 40 local events that take place throughout the year on six continents will work together.

From a financial point of view, nonprofit status allows Burning Man to raise money outside of ticket sales, previously the primary source of funding. On an annual basis, 68,000 people pay $190 to $650 per ticket. On top of that, a fundraising goal of $1 million has been set for 2014.

The additional funds that will be raised from donations and foundation grants can be used to commission art created for the regional network.

One new initiative is “Big Art for Small Towns,” which will bring new and existing art from Burning Man to places that might not be in the normal sphere of the event and its culture. The first of these is Fernley, Nev., a small town on Interstate 80 east of Sparks. Nevada-based sculptor Pan Pontoja will create a piece called “Desert Tortoise” that will be installed with community input and partial funding from a National Endowment for the Arts grant.

Burning Man is also getting into the conference game, sponsoring its first in Las Vegas this fall.

Meanwhile, late last year Burning Man moved into new offices on Alabama Street in San Francisco’s Mission District. There are more than 50 full-time employees, and 17 members on the board of directors.

$1 million in fundraising? That’s a lot of scarves – although they’ve more than covered it just in vehicle passes. Now they’re getting into the conference game too, with their first one in Vegas this fall: “Burn-Dex”, perhaps? If anyone knows more about this please share.

6 comments on “Chronicle: Burning Man Now “Mainstream”

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