BIG NEWS! It’s been a long time coming: we’re excited to announce that Burning Man achieved an historic milestone in January with the successful transition of the 24-year-old organization to a non-profit organization! The process has taken nearly three years, and now more than ever we’re positioned to support the global cultivation of art and community based on the 10 Principles.
“After 24 years of tending our garden in the desert, we now have the means to cultivate its culture worldwide,” said founder Larry Harvey. “Sometimes things just pop and this is one of those moments.”
In the late 1990s the founders needed to form a corporation to run the event and opted to create a Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Black Rock City LLC — because it made the best sense at the time. But an LLC is not designed to meet the needs of our growing culture and it wouldn’t survive beyond the founders’ lifetime. Our mission has always been to serve the community, and a non-profit public benefit corporation is the most socially responsible option to ensure and protect the future of Burning Man.
The non-profit Burning Man Project was created in August 2011 and received its 501(c)3 status in May 2012. On December 27, 2013, the Burning Man Project Board of Directors voted to make Black Rock City LLC a subsidiary and is now the sole shareholder of the LLC, which will continue to manage the event in the desert. The transition became official January 1, 2014.
You’ll be reassured to know that the annual desert experience of Burning Man in Black Rock City as a gathering and event will be largely unaffected by this change. Over time, however, it is likely that the event will evolve in ways that support the efforts of the non-profit in more distinct ways than are currently apparent or even yet explored.
Burning Man began as a one night event in June of 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco. The burning of the art piece became a weekend event when it moved to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert over Labor Day in 1990. From there it grew organically from an event with 80 people to a cultural experience capable of provoking change year round. In 1997 we took our first steps to nurture connectivity beyond Black Rock City with the self-nomination and subsequent identification by the organization of local point persons in several areas. The first was in Austin, Texas, with New York City, Canada, North Bay area of San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle all following in that order. Since then we’ve built a global network of more than 220 members in 28 countries in which Burning Man culture is being encouraged to develop.
Every year, as you well know, tens of thousands of participants depart Black Rock City invigorated and inspired to make the rest of their lives ‘more like Burning Man.’ It is through this network and with the help of the non-profit we can now proactively stimulate the culture to manifest in programs related to civic engagement, education and the arts.
Marian Goodell, a Burning Man co-founder who will oversee the Burning Man organization, said “We’re scaling to meet the growing demand for tools and resources to reproduce the Burning Man experience outside of Black Rock City. We’re interested in expanding the values born of the playa – thinking of the world itself as The Grand Playa. What’s transformational in Northern Nevada for one week a year can, with the right tools, be manifested everywhere. Not just in the form of overnight gatherings, but through transformational engagement in our daily lives.”
The immediate logistical priority is to migrate aspects of the LLC operations into the Burning Man Project and rework the internal business processes so they are adaptable to the regulations that govern non-profits. As we will attain success and experience challenges in specific areas we will endeavor to communicate what’s going on as often and as transparently as possible.
The Burning Man Project is a public benefit organization, and our intention is to build the network of connectivity through relationships with individuals, organizations and government entities. We have great ambitions for what we sometimes refer to at HQ as a “100 year plan.” We’re a little over a quarter century into that plan… and our best days are still ahead.
We are restructuring some of our operations to strengthen our capacity to deliver on our ever-growing potential as a force for creativity and good in the world. We are deeply focused on keeping the Black Rock City event a thriving entity and beautiful experience that feeds into the possibilities beyond Nevada out here on the Grand Playa of human society. In the coming months we hope to share our progress in technology, communications, fundraising, community relations, network development and, of course, the building of the philosophical center. We are getting our own central house in order so that Burning Man can more effectively decentralize and are counting on the community and those not in the community to participate in this wonderfully potential-laden moment together.
Look for a new website this summer and more exciting posts here in the coming weeks.