Burning Man Annual Report - Letter from the CEO

2014 was a remarkable year of change and growth for the Burning Man organization. Following the finalization in December 2013 of the Founders’ transfer of ownership of Black Rock City, LLC to the nonprofit Burning Man Project (BMP), we went to work completing the integration of the two.

While we remain absolutely committed to production and management of the annual event in Nevada, which attracted 65,992 participants from 68 countries around the globe in 2014, we are expanding our efforts to bring Burning Man culture to the world. We have long pursued activities with a scope beyond Black Rock City. Now our nonprofit organizational structure reflects and supports this work and is better poised to further our mission of serving the public good.

2014 was a year marked by integration. For the first time ever, Black Rock City’s operations and event production, the Black Rock City Art Department, Black Rock Arts Foundation, the Regional Network and administrative functions joined forces to create a cohesive, multi-faceted organization to better support, serve and nurture the growing Burning Man community. We also began the process for Burners Without Borders to become a program of Burning Man Project.

Burning Man culture continues to grow by leaps and bounds, as communities around the globe pick up the Ten Principles and apply them to their creative endeavors, entrepreneurial pursuits, civic projects and transformative events. In February 2014, we hosted the first European Leadership Summit in Berlin, bringing key community leaders together from 25 countries. In April, more than 350 Burning Man community leaders from around the world joined key volunteers and staff for our 8th annual Global Leadership Conference in San Francisco. They spent four days building skills, exchanging best practices, and getting mutually inspired to take “the playa to the planet”. In May, we saw the first multi-day officially approved Midburn event in Israel, and the addition of Brazil and Korea Regional groups. I also gave a TEDx talk in Tokyo on building our culture through community, and visited regional groups in Europe, Asia and North America.

By investing the necessary time and resources, we are building a solid nonprofit that we are confident will successfully support the spread of our global culture of self-expression, participation, and civic responsibility. Our focused work over the past year has prepared us well for the promising years ahead. We thank you for all of your support, and we hope you will continue to join us on this important journey.

Marian Goodell
CEO/Chief Engagement Officer,
Burning Man

The Burning Man Event in Black Rock City

The allure of the Burning Man event in Black Rock City continues to capture the attention and imagination of the world with incredible art, big ideas and boundless inspiration. The Burning Man organization creates just enough civic infrastructure to provide a framework to support civil society in Black Rock City. Within this structure, participants enjoy the freedom to radically express themselves, often beyond what they ever dreamed possible.

Black Rock City exploded with creativity in 2014, including 311 art installations, 975 theme camps, 652 Mutant Vehicles, and participants from 80 countries.

Burning Man Arts

In a significant step forward, we began folding Black Rock City’s Art Department and the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) into Burning Man Project, in order to create Burning Man Arts. Burning Man Arts aims to change the paradigm of art from a commodified object to an interactive, participatory, shared experience of creative expression. Operationally, the two organizations are bringing their resources together to create one robust art program that will work on projects both on and off the playa.

In 2014, Burning Man Arts provided over $1.1M to artists to create artwork for Black Rock City and around the world.

Civic Engagement

Participation is at the heart of the Burning Man experience in Black Rock City and around the world. Cultivating civic engagement is a goal of all of our programs. In the Global Network, we train community leaders to organize and instigate civic projects, while Burning Man Arts engages communities with opportunities for art experiences. For the annual event in Black Rock City, Black Rock Ranger training teaches participants to be civic negotiators and community problem solvers.

Burners Without Borders has cultivated 123 grassroots initiatives in 11 countries, and boasts 17 active chapters nationwide.


Burning Man staff took on several key infrastructure projects designed to increase our capacity for delivering educational content to a growing global audience. A new volunteer team was formed to handle year-round video documentation of educational events like the Global Leadership Conference, and to share the content with a wider circle of community members. Staff also began the process of creating “export” versions of key trainings, such as our manager curriculum for volunteers and staff. We’re excited to continue this process of open-sourcing more of the knowledge base developed in Black Rock City for the benefit of our wider community, including content from the Global Leadership Conference, the European Summit and more.

Leaders from the organization represented Burning Man in 35 speaking engagements, introducing Burner culture to a broad cross-section of professional and public audiences.

Global Network

Burning Man’s Global Network continues to grow, as energized and inspired participants leave Black Rock City in Nevada determined to imbue their lives with the Burning Man ethos, and to encourage the same in their communities. As of December 2014, the Global Network included 120 official groups in 34 countries, with many more informal and nascent gatherings and collaborations happening across the world. In addition, more than 350 year-round volunteer Regional Contacts worked to support local projects, civic initiatives, and Regional Events.

Participants enjoyed 65 official Burning Man Regional Events around the world in 2014, and more than 450 community leaders from over 30 countries participated in Burning Man’s Global Leadership Conferences.

Philosophical Center

In collaboration with writers and thinkers from the Burning Man community, Chief Philosophical Officer (and Burning Man Founder) Larry Harvey launched a blog series exploring the nuances and implications of Burning Man’s Ten Principles, designed to stimulate discussion and create a wider context for understanding these core values. Additionally, some of Harvey’s early writings and interview footage from Burning Man’s formative years were unearthed and published as part of our web redesign project, offering valuable historical perspective on the evolution of the culture and its ethos.

A shared philosophy, based on the Ten Principles, permeates every aspect of Burning Man culture. This ethos is the living heart of our community, our conscience and our collective memory.

Gifting: Engagement and Contributions

Gifting is at the center of Burning Man’s principles and its culture of self-expression and participation. We are deeply grateful for the abundant contributions of volunteer time and financial donations which are so essential to fulfilling our mission. We strive to recognize gifts of all kinds directly, and to honor the necessity of these gifts. Burning Man would not exist without this generosity.

Financial contributions sustain our year-round arts, civic engagement and educational offerings, while strengthening our growing network of global change leaders.

The Ten Principles

Radical Inclusion

Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.


Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.


In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Leaving No Trace

Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

Radical Self-expression

Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort

Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility

We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Radical Self-reliance

Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.


Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.


Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.