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Organizers of the Burning Man Project, the group that brings the annual arts and music festival to northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, made the announcement on its website and social media accounts.
The week-long event was scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 7. It will now move online only, organizers said.
“After much listening, discussion, and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to build Black Rock City in 2020,” the statement reads. “Given the painful reality of COVID-19, one of the greatest global challenges of our lifetimes, we believe this is the right thing to do.”
The statement shares that the organizers are “heartbroken.”
“We know you are too,” the statement continues. “In 2020 we need human connection and Immediacy more than ever. But public health and the well-being of our participants, staff and neighbors in Nevada are our highest priorities.”
The festival, which moved from San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1990, celebrates creativity and free expression, with drum circles, decorated art cars, guerrilla theatrics and colorful theme camps. Clothing is optional.
The theme of this year’s event was “The Multiverse” and despite it not physically taking place, the Burning Man Project announced the show will go on virtually, to keep in line with its theme.
“That’s the theme for 2020 so we’re going to lean into it. Who’d have believed it would come true? We look forward to welcoming you to Virtual Black Rock City 2020,” the statement reads. “We’re not sure how it’s going to come out; it will likely be messy and awkward with mistakes. It will also likely be engaging, connective, and fun.”
The Burning Man body announced that it will offer refunds to those who need them, but remains committed to keeping Burning Man culture “alive and thriving,” the release says.
Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell reiterated the organization’s commitment in a video on its official website.
Goodell reminds Black Rock City goers that the Nevada festival is just one small part of what the organization brings to the world year-round.
Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell updated Burning Man 2020 ticket holders on how the festival will go on virtually.
“I am not here to tell you we are cancelling Burning Man. No,” says Goodell. “Burning Man is a culture, it’s a movement. We are not defined by one aspect of Burning Man. We are defined by what we bring to Burning Man. Burning Man is 100 affiliated events around the world on six continents. I am here to tell you that we will not be collaborating on Black Rock City in the desert this summer.”
“I am going to tell you that we look forward to inviting you to come to the virtual Burning Man. This is not an easy time for us,” Goodell continues. “For those of you who are compelled by what we’re doing and you can afford the gift, we would appreciate being able to do our work for Burning Man. We need your support. We are scaling back so we can make it to 2021 but we need your help. Please do what you can to help support us.”
A participant takes part in a fire ceremony as approximately 70,000 people from all over the world gathered for the annual Burning Man arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada in 2017.
The CEO vowed she will continue to provide video updates on the Burning Man Project website to answer any questions festival-goers may have.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.