Theme camps have begun planning for Black Rock City 2020 in earnest, and Directed Group Sale (DGS) ticket allocations are top of many people’s minds. For those not already on Placement’s mailing list (sign up for the latest updates), we want to share changes to DGS allocations for this year and beyond.
Following our announcement in May that “2019 placed theme camps are not guaranteed 2020 DGS tickets based on the existing system’s rules,” we are implementing one additional criterion for DGS allocations to theme camps and villages for Black Rock City 2020, and beyond.
Until now, standing status was the only criteria for DGS allocation, with theme camps and villages in “good standing” receiving an allocation of tickets, and those not in good standing having their allocations reduced or withheld.
For 2020, we have added camp interactivity level as another DGS allocation criterion. This will reward camps and villages that have satisfied or exceeded Placement’s criteria of interactivity, and will also encourage camps and villages to bring high-quality interactivity to Black Rock City.
We’ve also introduced an additional DGS pool in the late spring to further support returning and new camps after the Main Sale this year.
These changes are the first steps towards a new DGS system that will be fully rolled out for the 2021 event. We recognize that change can be hard and that it takes time to adjust plans accordingly. In an effort to ease these challenges, 2020 will be a year of transition.
Why the Change?
Since 2013, Burning Man Project’s Directed Group Sale has allotted tickets for placed theme camps and villages, as well as other infrastructure providers, to ensure critical core members are able to build and bring their offerings in Black Rock City. These tickets emerged when camps could no longer acquire enough tickets for core members due to increased ticket demand and competition during the Main Sale.
DGS allocations were assessed according to standing status, and similar-sized camps received the same quantities of tickets. Camps were given these tickets regardless of whether they intended to return in the coming year.
With the record number of camps being placed in 2019 and a limited number of DGS tickets available, we’ve had to re-examine our allocation process. Since September, a diverse group of stakeholders through the Black Rock City Cultural Direction Setting project has met weekly to redesign a fair and equitable distribution of DGS tickets in this new era. These are some of the key questions we have explored:
- How do we fairly allocate DGS tickets to theme camps and villages without diluting the amount of tickets a camp needs to build and bring their offerings?
- How do we reward long-standing camps who uphold the 10 Principles while allowing for new camps to come into the fold?
- How do we keep Black Rock City’s neighborhoods vibrant, welcoming, and innovative?
How Will We Assess Interactivity?
We have used the 2019 Placement Questionnaire to determine the interactivity of theme camps and villages according to three levels — good, limited, and minimal. Our assessment has compared camps of similar size so that small camps are compared to other small camps and large camps with large camps.
Of the nearly 1,200 placed theme camps and villages in good standing from 2019, ~84% had good levels of interactivity and will receive approximately the same number of DGS tickets they received in 2019. Additionally, ~15% of theme camps and villages had limited interactivity and will receive a reduced ticket allocation.
Only 20 camps had minimal interactivity or were not in good standing, and will not be allocated any DGS tickets. Camps who receive a reduced allocation or no allocation of DGS tickets will be considered for a new additional pool of DGS tickets described below.
DGS Timeline and Other Departments
This year’s timeline will remain the same as 2019. DGS tickets will be allocated and purchased in February. If you are your camp’s lead, look out for an email titled, “Your 2020 Standing and DGS Allocation.” We will prioritize dialoguing with camps that are not receiving a full DGS allocation.
DGS provided by other departments such as the DMV (mutant vehicle camps), Art Department (art support camps), and for Black Rock City volunteers (work support camps) will go through the usual process and channels.
Better Assessment and Feedback
We’ve heard loud and clear that camps want better feedback from Placement about what you bring to Black Rock City. This is even more important now that the Placement Team’s interactivity assessments affect DGS allocations. We will, therefore, provide additional feedback to camps we assess as having limited or minimal interactivity, and encourage these camps to self-assess how they can improve on their interactivity.
In the coming months, we’ll also announce further changes from the Cultural Direction Setting project that will affect the Placement process and increase the Placement Team’s capacity to provide feedback. Our team has had limited bandwidth to tailor quality feedback, and this is a key change we are committed to providing to all of you.
Additional DGS Pool for 2020
In past years, we had a small batch of DGS tickets available after the Main Sale to help solve ticket issues on a case-by-case basis. This year, we’ve established a significantly larger pool that we can offer with full transparency to more camps.
This pool enables Placement to better meet current year needs of returning camps, and it also opens the door for new and different camps to access DGS tickets and help build Black Rock City.
We created this larger pool by reducing the number of DGS tickets for ~15% of theme camps with limited interactivity, and by increasing the total number of DGS tickets available for camps overall. We will allocate these additional DGS tickets after review of 2020 Placement Questionnaires. Camps selected for DGS in this additional round will be notified in the late spring.
This new pool of tickets gives camps the opportunity to think about how to truly bring interesting, engaging, and unique offerings to Black Rock City in the spirit of the 10 Principles, and to enhance the way they meet the Placement Criteria (which will be updated in mid-March for 2020).
How Will DGS Tickets Be Allocated in 2021?
We are designing a system that dynamically tailors DGS allocations to meet each camp’s ticket needs for 2021. How we award the new additional pool of DGS tickets in 2020 also lays the groundwork for how we will allocate DGS tickets in 2021. Good standing, assessment of camp interactivity, and review of Placement Questionnaires will all remain components of determining DGS allocations.
We will provide more details about 2021 DGS later this year to coordinate with other changes resulting from the Cultural Direction Setting project. We appreciate your patience as we develop and design the best system that meets our city’s needs.
Help Manage Ticket Demand
It’s OK to take a year off! The more camps that take planned sabbaticals, the more DGS tickets are available in a given year for other camps.
Camps have told us that one reason they come year after year is to maintain their ongoing access to DGS tickets, and because they believe skipping a year reflects poorly on their standing and investment in the community.
We’d like to dispel this concern: all camps are welcome to take a year off or to bring their offering on an every-other-year basis. They can re-enter the DGS system without losing their standing or reputation with Placement.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org by February 7 at 12 noon Pacific Time to let us know if your camp is planning to take 2020 off, or if you told us you would take 2019 off and plan to return in 2020.
Right size your allocation. Please identify the actual numbers you require to bring your critical core team. If you have been allocated more DGS tickets than you need, please let us know how much we can reduce your allocation.
We will document your voluntary decrease, and it will enable us to distribute more DGS tickets to other camps who may need them. In the spirit of Communal Effort, we hope you can do your part in taking only what you need in order to help others.
As Burning Man grows and evolves, so too must the systems that get us to Black Rock City. Here’s to looking forward together.
Top photo by George P. Post