These program areas were developed in 2011 by the six founders of Burning Man and their nonprofit and legal advisors, who were crafting the long-term vision for the new nonprofit which became the Burning Man Project. These are not distinct, independently operating programs. They are aspirational, and represent what we have been doing and what we intend to do. Each year we focus on certain areas more than others, but this paints the big picture. We want you to know we’re thinking big about Burning Man’s potential influence on the world (we often talk about Burning Man’s 100-year plan), and we invite you to think big, too.
The mission of Burning Man Arts is to change the paradigm of art from a commodified object to an interactive, participatory, shared experience of creative expression.
Activities in the art program may include facilitating creative self-expression by encouraging people to integrate art with daily personal and public life in ways that are interactive and collaborative, promoting social architecture, and providing opportunities for people to create and display mobile and wearable art (such as art cars, art bikes, and art clothing). Burning Man Project will accomplish that through art grants, art exhibitions, art festivals, public art placement, directories and catalogues of art and artists who work in this genre, and by other means.
Burning Man Project’s Civic Engagement Program will foster civic responsibility and volunteerism in pursuit of a civil society and to provide economic development and human services, using interactive and collaborative methods consistent with the Ten Principles.
Activities may include organizing community celebrations, parades, festivals, and other events through a network in urban and rural areas, and in the virtual world. In creating these events, Burning Man Project will encourage broad participation and engagement with city, state and federal agencies to permit display of public art and creative self-expression. Burning Man Project events will offer the public opportunities to participate in and experience a way of life lived consistently with the Ten Principles and to collaborate in creating a values-based civic code. Urban Cultural Centers will aid development of cultural districts and bring life back to cities’ long-depressed urban zones, and will seek to provide important services and needed amenities in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, contributing to neighborhood economic self-sufficiency. Burning Man Project’s rural activities will contribute to economically blighted areas of Northern Nevada and elsewhere through art and civic engagement projects. Burning Man Project will expand the nascent Digital Playa and virtual “Burn” events.
Burning Man Project’s Culture Centers Program will establish and operate urban and rural cultural centers and spaces that incubate and showcase collaborative and interactive arts, culture, and community participation. Burning Man Project‘s Cultural Centers may be permanent or temporary, physical or virtual.
Activities that generate and preserve culture will include establishing an Urban Cultural Center in San Francisco that will provide collaborative gathering and gallery spaces, classrooms, workshops, a library, archives, sites for ritual and ceremony, shared office space for multiple community-based nonprofit organizations, and eventually a café and “museum” store. The San Francisco Urban Cultural Center will serve as a model for future Urban Cultural Centers in other cities. In the longer-term future, rural retreat centers, artist colonies, and camping sites may provide opportunities to generate interactive, collaborative community and culture in natural settings. This program will locate, evaluate, acquire, manage, operate, and maintain all Project facilities, sites, networks and real estate, which will be developed and operated using innovative technologies and renewable energy.
The mission of Burning Man Project’s Educational Program is to teach the philosophy, principles, and practice of Burning Man culture and experience around the world.
Activities in this program may include Burning Man Project providing classes, skills training sessions, workshops, lectures, conferences, seminars, coaching, mentoring and certification programs via many educational modalities, such as in person, online, peer-to-peer, and through interactive, experiential and service-learning programs. Certifications may be offered in subjects such as dispute resolution and leadership training. Topics will include the nearly infinite range of ways the Ten Principles apply to various fields of endeavor, from the philosophical to practical. Skills training may include how to: create interactive art, create flame effects, make costumes, recruit and retain volunteers, facilitate town meetings, engage effectively with government agencies, manage a project, raise funds, write art grants, set up a nonprofit, produce an event, or install monumental public art. Burning Man Project may teach about collaborative communication, active listening, emergency management, dispute resolution, collaborative leadership, disaster preparedness and relief, and myriad other topics. Staff, consultants, and volunteer teachers — professionals, experts, and knowledgeable people — will come from the Burning Man community and beyond, to educate the Burning Man community, in everything from impromptu sessions to formal classes.
The Philosophical Center will serve as a think tank to do scholarly research about, and to prepare and publish materials that explain the Ten Principles, and how they have been and can be successfully and practically implemented in many fields of human endeavor. The Philosophical Center will guide the interpretation and application of the Ten Principles in The Project’s operation. It will elucidate the Ten Principles by means of a precedential approach that examines how these principles have been effectively used to solve past problems and answer questions. Its study shall also include spontaneous cultural practices and initiatives that have arisen within the Burning Man community independently of any institutional mandate.
Activities in this program will provide visionary scholarly and literary exploration, and pragmatic content for The Project, Burning Man culture, and the general public emphasizing cross-disciplinary thinking, interactivity, and collaborative action. The Philosophical Center will conduct research and promote innovation in art, science, play, gifting, interaction, collaboration, and related economic and policy issues. It will explore and publish conceptual, academic, and first-person accounts that describe how the emergent ethos of the Ten Principles apply to a wide range of human endeavors. Such publications will be in unlimited forms and media: articles, books, videos, films, case studies, “how to” manuals, policies, procedures, streaming media, and by other means. The policies, procedures, “how to” manuals, and “case” materials that the Philosophical Center designates as “precedential” for The Project shall be considered scholarly authorities concerning how The Project can and must operate in order to remain true to the Ten Principles for generations. The Philosophical Center will encourage dialogue and will create a self-reflective “living” archive and literary exploration of the Burning Man way.
Burning Man Project’s Social Enterprise Program will collaborate with mission-allied organizations and projects that wish to collaborate for the public good by providing certifications, social and connective networks, fiscal sponsorship, shared support services, and mentoring.
Activities of this program may include education, coaching, and certifications for organizations and businesses that wish to embody the Ten Principles, and establishing a public interest “Burner Business Bureau” that informs consumers about responsible, ethical, community and culture-oriented ventures. Closely mission-allied fiscally sponsored projects and 501(c)(3) nonprofits could subscribe to receive shared support services from Burning Man Project in human resources, volunteer coordination, bookkeeping, financial management, technology support, international operations, good nonprofit governance, risk management, emergency response, legal compliance, or other areas of Burning Man Project’s subject matter expertise. This approach fosters collaborative consumption among mission-allied projects, reducing duplication and overhead costs and maximizing the resources that each may devote to its public benefit programs. In the long term future, The Project may establish a Cultural Enterprise Incubator Program to accelerate the successful development of early-stage companies and nonprofits that wish to embody the Ten Principles in their operations.