- City Guides
Burning Man Goes Virtual in 2020
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Black Rock City won’t be built in the Nevada desert this year
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Burning Man, the festival that has spawned numerous large-scale steampunk art projects over the years, is going virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The gathering was scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sept. 7 in Black Rock Desert, near Gerlach in Northern Nevada.
“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” the Burning Man Project stated in an April 10 announcement. “We are, however, going to build Black Rock City in The Multiverse.”
The Multiverse was to be the theme for this year’s gathering, “so we’re going to lean into it,” they wrote.
Although the festival was more than four months away, the organizers said a “wait and see” approach wasn’t feasible due to the lead time required for “planning, preparing, building, and creating.” Artists who build projects for the festival typically work on them far in advance.
Burning Man Project will offer refunds to people who have already purchased tickets. But “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,” they wrote. “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.”
They noted that the organization gets more than 90 percent of its annual income from tickets to Black Rock City, yet it also funds cultural programs year-round. “Without that revenue to rely on, we have made and will continue to make hard decisions and sacrifices,” they wrote. “We have started by implementing salary cuts for everyone on our leadership team and are having to lay off some of our dedicated staff members.”
The organization is still working on the details of the virtual event. “Everyone will be welcome to join in,” they wrote. But “we will have costs and will need to create some kind of ‘ticket.’” They’ve already set up a form for people who would like to participate.
Past Burning Man festivals have featured iconic steampunk art installations such as the Neverwas Haul, Nautilus Submarine Art Car, and Steampunk Tree House. Check out the gallery below for scenes from previous years.