Burning Man, the annual arts event that draws tens of thousands of people to Black Rock Desert and tens of millions of dollars to Northern Nevada’s economy, has joined the list of high-profile gatherings to fall prey to the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers of the event, which was to have been held from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7, announced Friday that they had made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City, the “temporary metropolis” that is created each year for the event. “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,” organizers said on their website, The Burning Man Journal.
Still, organizers said that they hoped to create an online version of Black Rock City this year — though details were sparse.
“We’re not sure how it’s going to come out,” organizers said on their website. “It will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes. It will also likely be engaging, connective, and fun.”
Later, they added that some sort of “ticket” would be necessary to cover costs. “We’re working out those details and will share them as soon as we can,” they said. Organizers said they were also working on a tool for refunds for people who had bought tickets to Burning Man 2020 at Black Rock City.
“While we will not be building a temporary artists’ city of 80,000 in northern Nevada this year,” the organizers said in a statement, “we are going to create a virtual Black Rock City and we’re going to continue to support our year-round nonprofit programs including Burners Without Borders and Fly Ranch.”
This will be the first year that the gathering, which began in San Francisco in 1986 and moved to the Black Rock Desert in 1990, will not be held on-site.
Local communities will surely feel the impact. Organizers said the event “represents an annual injection of $75 million into the Northern Nevada economy.”
But they added that they were “committed to our neighbors in Nevada and are working on some ideas for offsetting this development.”