Burning Man founders have been discussing the concept of the non-profit Burning Man Project since the 1990s. In 2011, organizers took the first step in creating a non-profit, forming a 16-member board consisting of the founders and burners with backgrounds in non-profit, arts, business and civic realms. Burning Man Project received its 501c3 status as a charitable organization in May 2012 and in the 19 months since then, the project has developed three primary areas of focus: outreach, building the business structure and testing demonstration projects.
Our outreach efforts are tailored to support the work of like-minded organizations and educate burners and the general project on the Project’s mission. We’ve done this locally and around the world with participation in Earth Day events, regional burns, at Everywhere Pavilion on the playa and as part of local community events like HeArt of Market in San Francisco.
In Black Rock City, we share space in the Everywhere Pavilion with Black Rock Arts Foundation, Burners Without Borders, the Regionals and Black Rock Solar. It’s a great opportunity to discuss our plans for the future with participants and learn from your experiences in showcasing Burning Man culture around the world.
We’ve also begun building out our programs – thinking through how to replicate workshops and demonstration projects while creating new programs like video training through our Education program. And we’ve been building our business structure – carefully considering the practical and philosophical aspects to determine what’s functional and works with our culture.
As a non-profit, we’re raising money to build capacity to support our programs and the process of fundraising is something we need to align with our values. In 2013, we conducted several fundraisers – including the well-received “This is Burning Man” talk with Larry Harvey, Danger Ranger and Brian Dougherty, author of the book “This is Burning Man.”
One of our goals for 2014 is to expand our partnership program, where we support like-minded organizations. We did it this year with [freespace], which started in San Francisco and was recognized by the White House for its innovative approach to community building, and is now spreading worldwide.
We also want to expand our collaborative demonstration projects. In 2013 we collaborated with Downtown Project via a consulting services agreement to bring art and civic programming to support DTP’s revitalization work in downtown Las Vegas. Y.E.S. – the Youth Educational Spacecraft – is another demonstration project that continues to land in communities around the U.S. Like-minded organizations like Black Rock Arts Foundation, Black Rock City, the Crucible, Exploratorium and Maker Faire contributed time and money to support this mobile art project and classroom so kids from Boys & Girls Club, local schools and burner families could imagine and create their visions for outer space. Y.E.S. has landed most recently in Las Vegas for an extended tour – allowing more kids from public schools to engage with our culture.
In the long term, we view ourselves as a service provider to people and organizations extending Burning Man culture globally. As we build capacity, we are testing ideas locally to determine whether they are replicable in other communities.
All of us with the Project are looking forward to the new year and new adventures with all of you!