Greetings Burning Man Community,
We’re thrilled to announce the August 5th launch of the non-profit Burning Man Project, an exciting new venture in the ever-evolving history of the Burning Man cultural experiment.
Fiscally sponsored by the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the primary purpose of The Burning Man Project is to uphold and manifest the values described in the Ten Principles of Burning Man. In this sense, “Burning Man” is understood not as an event, but a way of life lived consistently with the Ten Principles. The Burning Man Project will provide infrastructural tools and frameworks that allow people to apply the Ten Principles in many communities and spheres of endeavor. It will include projects in these program areas: Arts, Civic Involvement, Culture, Education and Social Enterprise.
People often assume that the Burning Man event already IS a non-profit, since that’s what one would logically think given our philosophical bent, but in fact it’s run by Black Rock City LLC, formed in 1997, after the highly-chaotic 1996 event clearly illustrated the need for an organization for the growing phenomenon of Burning Man. At the time, a Limited Liability Corporation made the most sense; the Burning Man event was a wild and wooly encampment of 8,000 people, and the organizers needed a way to legally organize that event’s management and to inure themselves from personal liability. But running the event as a private corporation didn’t always mesh well with the philosophy of the Burning Man experiment; it was, however, the right tool for the job at the time.
Flash forward 15 years, however, and that structure has begun to appear somewhat obsolete. The Burning Man event itself has grown into a massive, fully-functioning metropolis, to be sure; more uniquely, though, it now comprises a global year-round Regional Network, as well as several spin-off endeavors (the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock Solar and Burners Without Borders). These efforts have emerged spontaneously, supported in various ways by the Burning Man organization, each organically evolving to propagate the Burning Man cultural ethos throughout the world in tangible ways.
Stable in our footing, and eager to take the grand Burning Man experiment to the next level, it was time to bring the Burning Man culture back around to its philosophical roots, better aligning the organizational structure with our values. So, we are proud to announce the creation of the Burning Man Project, a non-profit organization designed to affect the world by applying the Ten Principles to a variety of multidisciplinary programs and projects.
As a non-profit entity, the Project will be afforded new opportunities for partnerships, affiliate relationships and fundraising activities that will allow it to multiply and magnify the growth of Burning Man culture, while ensuring that its philosophical center remains intact.
So, what does this mean for the Burning Man event itself? For now, while this new non-profit finds its bearings, the annual Burning Man event will be conducted under the auspices of Black Rock City LLC. In time, once the new organization has its footing, the Burning Man event itself will become part of that non-profit Burning Man Project.
The Burning Man event will continue to be the primary touchstone for our far-flung diaspora — a unique opportunity for people to gather and connect, to inspire and be inspired. But, as the spokes of the wheel grow, we fully expect (and encourage) the center of gravity to move towards the outer ring of an expanding sphere of influence, creating ever-stronger centrifugal forces, the effects of which we can only begin to imagine. We have long supported the emergence of new ideas and initiatives out of this grand experiment of Burning Man. It is the goal of The Project to increase their momentum.
Of course, Burning Man culture is all about participation … and we welcome and encourage YOU our community to do what you do so well: join in this new adventure, lend your skills, talents and creativity to the effort, just as you do in Black Rock City. We invite discussion about what you think the Burning Man Project could do (we welcome you to start in the comments below). Where it goes from here is largely up to you. We hope that you’re as excited as we are about the future and what it will bring.