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.
For many in the growing network, their local burns and Regional Events are the core of their Burning Man experience, and a significant number of participants in Regional Events have never been to Black Rock City in Nevada. The growth of these events — in both number, popularity, and artistic scope — has demonstrated the power of the culture to transcend space and inhabit an ever-widening sphere of influence. Regional Contacts and Regional groups are not required to host large scale events in order to be an official part of the Regional Network. Burning Man seeks to recognize and support the culture wherever it flourishes. Some groups focus their energy on local artistic initiatives, civic projects, Burners Without Borders efforts and smaller scale gatherings.
In February 2014, the first-ever Burning Man European Leadership Summit was held in Berlin, with 100+ participants from 25 countries: Austria, Australia, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Regional Contacts, community leaders and Burning Man staff members met to learn skills, exchange ideas and discuss best practices for event production, effective use of social media, challenges in community development, entity creation and volunteer engagement.
In April 2014, the eighth annual Global Leadership Conference (GLC) was a held in San Francisco for 350+ Regional Contacts and community leaders from 10 countries. Participants attended four days of workshops and plenary sessions in four core learning tracks: Community Event Production, Civic Activation, Leadership, and Organizational Development. Both the European and GLC leadership conferences had a measurable impact on network-wide event planning, collaboration across Regional groups, and volunteer retention. Many conference participants noted that these gatherings are their most pivotal Burning Man engagements of the year — a chance to learn from experts, think, collaborate with their peers, and reaffirm their commitment to nurturing and expanding the culture.
Regional Events continue to be the drivers of Burning Man’s cultural expansion, introducing the Burning Man ethos to a broader audience, cultivating and training leaders and volunteers, and demonstrating the adaptability of Burning Man principles to a multitude of constituencies, locations and endeavors. In 2014, more than 65 official Burning Man Regional Events were hosted across the world. Overnight events lasting three days or more are increasing each year and are the mainstays for the transformative event experience. AfrikaBurn, in South Africa, grew to more than 9,000 participants in 2014. Israel’s Midburn event had 3,000 participants, and Flipside, the longest running Regional Event (started in 1998), sold over 3,000 tickets for its camping event outside Austin, Texas. Many Regional groups host “Decompression” events during the Fall months after Burning Man. Often one-day events, Decompressions are an opportunity for local communities to reunite after their travels to Black Rock City and to showcase their art projects, costumes, theme camps, and to plan for the year ahead.