The promised mid-February update has been issued, but the Burning Man Project cannot say whether the 2021 event can happen in person, and the new announcement timeline is “no later than the end of May.”
The last we checked on whether there would be a Burning Man 2021 amidst a COVID-19 pandemic is starting to maybe possibly show signs of receding, we saw that two major theme camps had already backed out regardless of whether the Burning Man Project decides to proceed. Since then, another major Esplanade (main drag) camp known as Illumination Village also announced they would not participate for general safety reasons.
The Burning Man Project itself is still holding out hope that they can do the damned thing in the desert in 2021, and promised in a January 21 announcement that “we will share more by the middle of February.” Well, here it is past the middle of February, and they have kind of made good on their promise — but in a highly tentative blog post entitled “Look, We Just Don’t Know Yet, K?”
There are still too many unknowns to determine if we will can create #BRC 2021. We are cautiously planning for the event, but will only proceed if it can be done safely. Here’s what we do know about tickets, forms, health & safety, and more. https://t.co/kqou5tKr7v— Burning Man Project (@burningman) February 18, 2021
“As of today, the COVID-19 pandemic still presents too many unknowns,” the Burning Man Project says in their post. But should circumstances allow, the gang says they’re “getting key processes in motion in the event that public health experts and government agencies tell us it’s possible to produce Black Rock City.”
It’s a thoughtfully written post, but we’ll skip to the juicy part, which is when they now claim they’re going to make the final call.
“We expect that we’ll have most of what we need to confidently make a decision no later than the end of May,” they say. “Of course it’s also possible that the situation will look positive enough in May for us to announce the event, only to have subsequent developments force us to cancel it. We hope that won’t be the case. Whatever happens, we will be open and transparent about what we are thinking as we move through each of these stages.”
And in terms how tickets would work, the Burning Man Project projects that “registration could start in April for ticket sales in May or later.”
They insist they’re working with “the state of Nevada, public health officials, epidemiologists, and technology companies to create protocols that ensure the highest level of safety possible.” Further, they would not let just anyone attend. “Some of the measures we’re evaluating for Black Rock City include proof of vaccination, rapid onsite testing, antibody verification, and negative test verification.
They also include a poll, seen above, on whether Burners would consider showing up if they got the green light. Unsurprisingly, just over half of Burners said they were still “highly likely” to attend. (Hell, plenty of them did unsafe shit last year.) But it’s also notable that a combined 20% of respondents said they were “highly unlikely” or just “unlikely” to attend, so it would presumably be a significantly smaller event.
Meet the Black Rock City COVID-19 Task Force: experts reviewing science, medical knowledge, and policy to make the best and safest recommendations about #BRC in 2021. Read about our work with the state of Nevada, local health officials, and event planners: https://t.co/WO7JUrvVnZ— Burning Man Project (@burningman) February 16, 2021
And in a sign this decision will be made fairly responsibly, they’ve also started a COVID-19 Task Force that is “working together with Nevada state and local health officials, event producers, and Governor Sisolak’s COVID-19 Task Force to explore what will be needed to safely and responsibly return large-scale outdoor events to Nevada in 2021.” That task force also includes representatives of other annual summertime Nevada events like the car show Hot August Nights, the big ol’ rave Electric Daisy Carnival, and the Great Reno Balloon Race, all of whom are obviously wondering the exact same thing.
Image: @eelco_bohtlingk via Unsplash