In the past couple of years there have been some mixed messages from BMOrg about Commodification Camps. On the one hand, Larry Harvey writes a big post saying “concierges are here to stay!”, and creates a theme based on rich patronage of the arts. On the other hand, the BJ says “concierges are banned!”, and singles out one organization in particular: Festivals Concierge Service.
They have just released a statement to the Burner community. emphasis ours
A Message to the Burning Man community
As the CEO of FCS – and a committed member of the BM community – I feel compelled to make a statement to the Burner community.
While I fully understand and support Burning Man’s discontent with plug-and-play camps and commodification, I feel there is a misconception about what we do (and do not do) for our clients at Burning Man. Further, I feel we have been unfairly singled out as a poster child for BM support services, as there are a number of other companies providing assistance to both participants and camps on the playa.
With FCS, our primary intention is to help shift the consciousness of our first-time Burner clients. We encourage them to truly embody the culture and spirit of Burning Man. We guide them through the philosophy of Burning Man, with particular focus on the 10 principles and the need to protect and foster the community. We do this because we are passionate and committed Burners ourselves, and we have seen the positive and life changing influence Burning Man can have on our clients; many leave the week with a profound shift in consciousness and seek more community experiences and opportunities to make positive change in the world. Many of the clients we help get to Burning Man return each year and we continue to assist them in their logistics and preparation for their Burn.
We have never – and will never – offer an all-inclusive Burning Man experience.
We have only facilitated travel and logistics for our clients. That’s it.
- GUEST CAMP PLACEMENT
We help our clients to have the best possible Burning Man experience – and placement in the right camp is critical to this, as any experienced burner can attest.
We will now offer assistance with camp placement as a gift to the community; not just to our clients but also for any other Burner who may need this help.
No fee is charged for this service.
- ON-SITE SERVICES
We do not offer any on-site services. We do not hire Sherpas for our clients.
Services related to RVs and trailers are provided by our suppliers directly or by the camps. We contract only Burning Man Outside Services Program (OSS) selected partners, and our providers pay the various BLM and Burning Man taxes. This is common practice across Black Rock City.
- OFF-SITE SERVICES
All services that we provide prior to and post the event (e.g. costumes, transport, accommodation) cannot be considered as contributing to the commodification of Burning Man as they are provided outside of Black Rock City and are part of the overall experience for all burners.
Further, we deeply encourage our clients to limit those services to the basics necessity to survive on the Playa.
We will no longer buy tickets on behalf of our clients.
We continue to encourage them to buy through the pre-sales and other BM tickets releases. We are not a ticket broker.
- ART SUPPORT
We encourage our clients to contribute to the community by directly assisting or building an art project or though sponsoring a project with financial contributions.
We guide our clients through this process and connect them with the projects that best fit their interests and budget.
Gifting on the playa is an essential part of the culture at Burning Man. When working with our first-time Burners to encourage them to use their creativity to find their own personal gifts and embrace the spirit of unconditional gifting throughout the week – and hopefully this continues long after BM.
CEO / Founder
Burners on Reddit weren’t exactly jumping on the offer.
What should we do with members of the community who acknowledge the error of their ways, amend them and try to gift something decent as an apology? Should we publicly shame them, hate them, persecute them – all in the name of Radical Inclusion? Or should we accept the apology, and move on with having a good time?
Here’s the email that BRC Boss Charlie Dolman sent to theme camp organizers and mutant vehicle owners:
Date: Fri, Jan 8, 2016 at 3:28 PM
Subject: Festivals Concierge Services (FCS) & Burning Man 2016
Dear Theme Camp/Mutant Vehicle producers –
Last year, a company called Festivals Concierge Services (FCS) advertised concierge camping and travel package services at the Burning Man event. We informed FCS it was not permitted to operate at our event and published a blog post (http://journal.burningman.org/2015/05/philosophical-center/tenprinciples/kicking-concierge-caboose-in-black-rock-city) to notify participants. Although FCS denied it would be providing services, its CEO (Antoine Sepulchre) and another employee (Florence Defort) were found to be doing exactly that, which led to their citation by BLM and eviction from the 2015 Burning Man event for unpermitted commercial activities. We also learned FCS made deals with a small number theme camps to host FCS clients for a price.
Although we have already informed FCS it will not be permitted to provide services to Black Rock City in 2016, we understand the company has begun marketing Burning Man travel packages again and contacting air carriers and OSS vendors. The FCS website claims the company “collaborates with Burning Man Outside Services Program selected partners.” We have let established OSS providers know that providing services to concierge companies like FCS will subject their OSS contracts to cancellation, as these companies directly circumvent the principles underlying the OSS program.
If you, or your OSS provider, are contacted by any representative of FCS or anyone identifying themselves as an FCS client, we ask that you please let us know. In keeping with Burning Man’s Ten Principles, we do not want theme camps or mutant vehicle owners to support concierge camping or travel package services. That includes hosting FCS clients or providing services like access to mutant vehicles. Collaborating with FCS could certainly compromise your good standing with Burning Man, including access to directed group tickets, placement, and mutant vehicle licensing.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have regarding the policy outlined in this message. We can be reached by email at
Event Operations Director
If you want to ban concierges, then ban concierges. Singling out one company, and turning a blind eye to the dozens of others, is not Civic Responsibility.
Here’s Larry’s big post on Concierge Culture.
Scan Burning Man’s Ten Principles, and you will not find radical equality among them. This is because our city has always been a place where old and young, and rich and poor, can live on common ground. The word for this is fellowship, as in the fellowship of a club or lodge whose members, however diverse, are united by common values and a sense of shared experience. But common ground is not a level playing field, and should not be interpreted as mandating equal living conditions.
This issue of equality almost amounts to a straw man. I do not believe that most people would want to live in a city that is the equivalent of a Marxist State, a place in which the prying eyes of envious neighbors are forever trained upon one.
Here’s the current BJ series on how the correct model for the arts is wealthy patrons like in the days of Leonardo Da Vinci.
Here’s how a corporation is selling an all-inclusive Burning Man package tour experience, which is the exception that proves the rule.
BMOrg are trying to expand the airport, with bigger planes bringing in an additional 1000 passengers per day.
We want wealthy patrons, paying $1299 per ticket…but they can’t bring sherpas or pay people off-Playa to shop and pack for them? Or they can – as long as they have sufficient Borg points that the rules no longer apply?