“Burning Man has an office?” We often hear this remark when talking to people about where we work. The notion that Burning Man has an office is still startling to some, which we take as a compliment! If the fantasy that Black Rock City is a Brigadoon, rising entire and Phoenix-like from the desert year after year, the Admin Team can be proud that our efforts, through remaining unseen, allow that fantasy to take hold and persist. Behind the scenes work is what we do best, and supporting the staff of the more visible departments is only a part of that job. Read on to take a glimpse at what’s happening behind the dusty curtain at Burning Man Headquarters.
The Administrative teams supporting those who build and run Black Rock City are those you might expect to find in any large company setting, with some others particular to Burning Man: The Office Staff in both San Francisco, and in Gerlach, the Accounting Team, the Legal, and Government Relations teams all have offices in our headquarters, and work to keep operations afloat. The Facilities Manager had a big role to play on the home front this year as well; moving offices is a monster of a job!
2011 also saw the birth of the Burning Man Project, the non-profit formed by the Founders of Burning Man to support outreach around community building, education and civic arts here on Market Street in San Francisco, and beyond! The Burning Man Project will be working closely with the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the Regional Network, and Burners without Borders to support the culture of Black Rock City beyond its borders. The Burning Man Project is headquartered in our new digs here in San Francisco, and the increase in staffing has brought many new faces into the building.
As Burning Man grows our relationships with the rest of the world grow and develop as well. In the legal world, this leads to contracts, more and more contracts. The Legal Department handles all that paperwork, and cements our relationships with providers of services such as equipment rentals, dust abatement, golf cart rentals, and the ever-present port-a-potties. The Legal Department also keeps track of our contracts with Federal and State entities such as Pershing and Washoe Counties, and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as licensing agreements and other intellectual property projects.
The Government Relations Team handles our interactions with Governmental agencies and visiting dignitaries. Yes, we have those! The Government Relations Team works closely with the BLM, the Pyramid Lake Paiutes, and county law enforcement agencies, among myriad others, to keep our event safe and compliant with regulations. This team also works with the ACLU and Lawyers for Burners to make sure the rights of Burners are protected.
The Accounting Team manages to make the business of business look easy, but we know that the complexity of keeping all the departments of Burning Man on budget and involved in the budget planning process is no small job. Managers have been working closely with the bean-counting team and engaging with a feedback loop that has made budgeting for everything from medical services to fireworks far more efficient. On playa, the use of electronic hiring paperwork made the job of processing payroll much more smooth for all concerned.
The Ticketing department is under our roof here at BMHQ, and handles myriad aspects of the ticketing process. 2011 did see challenges in ticketing due to high demand and software glitches at our ticketing partner’s site, along with our first-ever sell-out of tickets for the event. The Ticketing team continued to provide first-rate support and communication to our participants during an intense period of on-the-fly adjustments to their usual processes. Their grace and dedication under pressure cannot be understated! The Ticketing department is also responsible for creating the Survival Guide, and for selecting the ticket design and producing the high-quality and beautiful little piece of artwork that allows entry in to Black Rock City – your ticket.