(TMU) — Burning man is one of the largest festivals in the United States and it was scheduled to take place this year between August 30 and September 7.
With nearly every large event in the country this year being canceled, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before Burning Man made an official cancellation announcement as well.
On Friday, a statement on the official Burning Man blog shared news of the event’s cancellation and announced a virtual event in ‘The Multiverse’ as a replacement.
Many other large festivals have also announced virtual events as consolations, including Excision’s Lost Lands festival which announced a livestreamed festival called “Couch Lands” earlier this week.
Burning Man’s statement was accompanied by a video message from CEO Marian Goodell, who offered refunds to attendees that are strapped for cash and pleaded with more wealthy customers to consider their ticket purchase a donation.
There was also a lengthy plea for money and support in the statement posted on their blog. They say that the donations will go towards keeping employees paid, ensuring that they are able to recreate Burning Man again once they are able to.
The company behind Burning Man does have a rainy day fund of $10 million, but they said that the budget needed to address this current crisis will far exceed that amount.
“Financial challenges aside, we are optimistic about Burning Man’s future and what The Multiverse will reveal in the year ahead: a chance to explore new ways of connecting and convening online, deepen our commitment to environmental sustainability, realign our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, and create new and meaningful pathways for the community to connect and collaborate, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19),” the statement read.
Even though the festival is several months away, the statement noted that they wanted to make the announcement as far in advance as possible because of how much planning goes into a Burning Man trip.
“Waiting would only cost the participants, the organization and the various cooperating agencies money and time, though truth be told we did wait as long as we could to make this decision. The time is now,” the statement read.
Answers to a few frequently asked questions were also posted on the blog, including an uneasy recognition that the current pandemic could possibly have an impact on plans for Burning Man 2021.
“We don’t know what the public health situation will be a year from now, or what impact the pandemic will have had by then on our participants, our organization, or the global economy. It will also depend on whether the Bureau of Land Management, our permitting authority, is willing to work with us in a more collaborative manner,” the statement read.
Burning Man’s future at Black Rock City has been uncertain in recent years as the government agencies in control of the land have continued to increase the already sizable fees that the organization pays for permission to hold the event in the publicly-owned territory.
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