The 2020 edition of Burning Man has been canceled due to the ongoing global health crisis. Rather than constructing Black Rock City in the Nevada desert from August 30th–September 7th, Burning Man has announced an online initiative dubbed, Virtual Black Rock City, a nod to this year’s previously-announced theme, “The Multiverse.”
According to a lengthy letter to the Burning Man family,
After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020. Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we are heartbroken. We know you are too. In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff, and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.
We are, however, going to build Black Rock City in The Multiverse. That’s the theme for 2020 so we’re going to lean into it. Who’d have believed it would come true? We look forward to welcoming you to Virtual Black Rock City 2020. We’re not sure how it’s going to come out; it will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes. It will also likely be engaging, connective, and fun.
In the letter, Burning Man organizers laid out options for refunds and explained how they are allowing and encouraging ticket buyers to donate the cost of their ticket toward keeping the Burning Man community alive and thriving despite this unprecedented shutdown:
Some of you who already purchased a ticket for the playa may need that money now more than ever. We’re committed to providing refunds to those who need them, but we’re also committed to keeping Burning Man culture alive and thriving, and to ensuring our organization stays operational into next year’s event season — which will require substantial staff layoffs, pay reductions, and other belt-tightening measures. Burning Man Project’s survival is going to depend on ingenuity and generosity. Luckily, our community is rich in both.
Whether you have already purchased a ticket, have been waiting for the Main Sale, or are simply supportive of our vision and mission — if you have the means, it is our sincerest hope that you will consider donating all or a portion of your ticket value, and/or making a tax-deductible donation to Burning Man Project. This is going to be a tough year for us, as we know it will be for you, but we will get through it together.
Organizers also loosely outlined plans for their “Virtual” Black Rock City, “a chance to explore new ways of connecting and convening online … deepen our commitment to environmental sustainability, realign our partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, and create new and meaningful pathways for the community to connect and collaborate, especially during the coronavirus (COVID-19). … Since our earliest days on Baker Beach, we have always been, first and foremost, a community. And we’re a community familiar with being in a state of survival. There were many years when the Black Rock City event almost didn’t happen. We know how to face uncertainty and how to adapt to the changing world around us. We will tackle this challenge the same way humans across the globe are doing right now — by drawing strength and inspiration from one another. We are all Burning Man.”
To read the full Burning Man cancellation letter and the attached FAQ, head here.