Burning Man's theme camp symposium is going forward on March 28 as a virtual event, and in a statement, organizers say they are watching and waiting and hoping that Black Rock City can be built again come August.
"Like all of you, we have been striving to understand what this outbreak means for our communities and our families," the organizers write in a blog post. For now, they say, the only responsible thing to do is "proceed with caution."
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.
While springtime music festivals like Coachella and Bottle Rock have already rescheduled for October, working under the assumption that coronavirus infections will have long since subsided by then, Burning Man Project is stuck wondering whether August will be a safe time to congregate en masse again, or not. Certainly if effective treatments for COVID-19 are identified in the next several months, the public's fears about the virus will quickly subside — so long as those treatments are widely available.
Still, the organizers say, for those who have already bought tickets or are planning to buy them, they are "exploring every possible option for offering refunds if the coronavirus pandemic ultimately requires cancellation of the 2020 event."
As always, Burning Man is set to take place August 30 to September 7, ending on Labor Day.
Burning Man organizers say that all March and April events at their year-round Fly Ranch property in Nevada, like nature walks, have been canceled. However the sustainability design challenge goes on for Fly Ranch, called LAGI (Land Art Generator Initiative) Fly Ranch 2020. Architects, engineers, and designers of all stripes are encouraged to explore the project and use their shelter-at-home time to imagine structures and concepts that will become a part of the year-round facilities at the property.
In 2016, Burning Man Project bought the 3800-acre Fly Ranch property — which sits beside the part of the Black Rock desert where Burning Man takes place each year, 21 miles north of Gerlach, Nevada — with the intention of eventually bringing the principals of the temporary Black Rock City to a permanent "town." At the time, the organization said, "The answers will unfold slowly, over a period of time. We’re a long way from defining exactly what will happen at Fly Ranch, but it’s not too early to begin dreaming of the potential."
Screenshot via Burning Man Project/Land Art Generator Initiative