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Burning Man Journal
All The News That's Fit To Burn: 1998 Winter Newsletter


Burning Man is not funded by grants, private investments, vending fees or commercial sponsorship. We are 100% participant-supported. We depend on direct contributions in the form of ticket sales. This financial strategy has helped preserve our independence over many years. It has, however, one great disadvantage: cash flow. Historically, more than half of all tickets to Burning Man are purchased in the single week preceding our event. Because of this, the money needed every year to fund our preparations (including this newsletter) is often difficult to come by.

1997 promised relief from this perennial problem. Rising attendance, matched with careful financial planning, led us to project a balanced budget. Local authorities, however, imposed costs of more than one third of a million dollars on Burning Man, mostly for fire protection. These services were never used. Police officers stationed in our box office collected all receipts at our gate. This was particularly burdensome because of our need to pay for other onsite services.

For a crucial 24-hour period, Black Rock City stood in danger of losing electricity on its central power grid. Our community, however, responded to the emergency. A last minute appeal for contributions, mounted at our event on Saturday afternoon, netted nearly $50,000, an inspiring sum. Benefit parties and other individual contributions produced another $35,000, and the county itself has returned a sum of $45,000.

Burning Man has liquidated most of its remaining debt. $60,000 has yet to be paid, owed chiefly to vendors who provided our city with services. All of them will be completely compensated in upcoming months. Principal volunteer workers, who contributed weeks of effort, have been paid modest stipends, but many chief organizers, after working for many months in 1997 have received nothing. These individuals who manage Burning Man now face an even greater challenge. Some have quit their ordinary jobs or must work half-time. They need an income and the project needs an office. Other costs include art projects, permit fees, federally mandated environmental impact studies, site development and a fast-growing communication network.

We remain, as ever, undeterred. This utter resourcefulness is fed by a passionate commitment. It has made Burning Man a viable organization for over twelve years. However, if income isn't matched to our advance expenses, we will be burdened by many unnecessary problems. Now is your opportunity to help.

How You Can Help

We view the cost of a ticket as a community tax that is levied on every participant. It's for this reason the ticket price increases during the year. A ticket purchased now costs $65. This same ticket, purchased after April 15, will cost $80. Tickets purchased after August 15 and at our event site in the desert will sell for $100. This graduated increase is a tax upon passivity. We are rewarding commitment and encouraging participants to prepare in advance. Our second motive, of course, is cash flow. We need this money early.

Those who purchase tickets in advance are often our most committed participants. Many of you have already hosted benefit parties, made extra donations or contributed by buying tickets at our $100 donor rate. Any contribution will be appreciated.

It is also possible to make tax-deductible contributions of $500 or more to Burning Man (please contact us first to arrange this). With your help it will be possible to more than survive. We intend to greet 1998 as a self-sustaining organization. Help us make this goal a reality.