While most events in April and May, and some as far out as June, have either cancelled or postponed, others further out face less certain fates. There’s a chance that the crisis may subside by then, but bans on large gatherings might still remain to keep stress on hospitals low. There’s just too much we don’t know. So for events like Burning Man, which are still five months out, the best they can do is keep an eye on the situation and hope for the best.
Burning Man Project released a statement today on COVID-19 and what it means for the gathering this year. In essence, right now, the festival hasn’t indicated it will cancel, but it’s making preparations for if it has to.
Of course, one of the biggest questions is whether we’ll be able to build and experience Black Rock City 2020. In the current climate of uncertainty it is simply too soon to tell. There are some indications that the virus may peak in the next couple of months and then begin to subside, while others believe the pandemic could have a much longer timeline. Some large-scale events are being rescheduled from spring until fall. Black Rock City is still five months away, and a lot can happen between now and then. So much is beyond our powers to predict or control.
As far as possible refunds go, as a non-profit organization that funds the festival, BMP finds itself in a tough situation. Like Lightning in a Bottle, a family-run festival, it relies on ticket sales for payroll, staff, land fees, and more. Though, the gathering’s terms and conditions state that tickets are non-refundable “for any reason,” organizers “recognize the extremely unusual circumstance we’re all in. Issuing refunds would be challenging for our nonprofit organization, which supports year-round staff and programming, but we are aware of and sensitive to the difficult financial position so many members of our global community are in right now.”
For now, Burning Man’s 2020 iteration is still set for Aug 30 — Sept. 7. Stay tuned for more information as it comes.