Who owns Burning Man?

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

Who owns Burning Man?

Postby Blue Jester » Thu Jul 28, 2005 1:58 pm

Is this a stupid question (does any one own burningman?). The reason that I ask is some guy on tribe.net was ranting on about the owners are making so much money blah, blah, blah. It just got me thinking why was there no after burn report on the money situation from '04. If this is a foolish question please come out and tell me why. I was just wondering.
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Postby Kinetic IV » Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:03 pm

The 2004 Afterburn Report!

http://afterburn.burningman.com/04/
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Re: Who owns Burning Man?

Postby ZaphodBurner » Thu Jul 28, 2005 2:58 pm

Blue Jester wrote:Is this a stupid question (does any one own burningman?). The reason that I ask is some guy on tribe.net was ranting on about the owners are making so much money blah, blah, blah. It just got me thinking why was there no after burn report on the money situation from '04. If this is a foolish question please come out and tell me why. I was just wondering.


Let's suppose for a minute "the owners" were making "so much money."

A friend of mine bitched about teh $250 ticket fee, but this is the same guy that drops $125 to see a 90-minute Eagles concert. Let's see, $125 a seat times 15,000 or 20,000 people who pay that fee plus $75 or whatever for cheaper seats. Per tour date.

If the LLC folks get stinkin' friggin' rich off of organizing Burning Man, and the whiners who just don't get it don't go 'cause of the ticket price, I'm cool with it, at least at the current price. Folks should call around the national parks and find out what RV fees are for an entire week, especially Labor Day weekend. No generators, no raves, no firework displays, no "it." Just an ashpalt "campground."

In my opinion, the same people who bitch about the LLC pay out the ass to go to shows like Rage Against the Machine (who makes money FOR the machine), Ozzfest, whatever. They buy the CDs, or steal them. And those corporate artists and their lawyers, promoters, managers, etc make shitloads of money. And none of it can touch the experience of Burning Man.

$250 is the cheapest week of entertainment you can expect as a spectator/parasite, and, the fact is, most theme camp builders probably laught at the idea that $250 is the most significant expense. My wife and I have spent five times that alone, and entire summer weekends on our camp this year, and some of it will be spent entertaining the crybabies who scream about how much Larry Harvey makes off of Burning Man.

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Postby Ron » Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:06 pm

Kinetic IV wrote:The 2004 Afterburn Report!

http://afterburn.burningman.com/04/


Which has just about no financial information at all.

Not that a real audit of this private organization is a realistic expectation, I'm just sayin'...

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Postby Ranger Genius » Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:21 pm

You call this "just about no information?"
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Postby Chai Guy » Thu Jul 28, 2005 4:55 pm

And those corporate artists and their lawyers, promoters, managers, etc make shitloads of money. And none of it can touch the experience of Burning Man.


And none of them expect me to bring out my music, my art, my chai. They aren't asking me to committ to 2 hours of clean up in addition to cleaning up after myself. I don't have to haul out my own trash either. The tickets for those events haven't more than quadrupled in price over 5 years.


I'm cool with it, at least at the current price.


I was a lot cooler with it in 98 when the tickets were $40.00 at the gate.
(funny, I don't see much difference in the event either, except for a bigger cafe and a bigger pedestal for the man).

Folks should call around the national parks and find out what RV fees are for an entire week, especially Labor Day weekend.


East Zion National Park RV Fee - Weekly $100
Bryce Canyon National Park RV fee weekly $70
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Postby Ron » Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:06 pm

Ranger Genius wrote:You call this "just about no information?"


That link is not the one I was responding to. :)

Now, thanks for the list of expenses, but it's hardly a full financial picture. You'll note the lack of an income statement, yes? $8.5 million was spent, how much came in? A balance sheet would be helpful, as would a cash flow statement. Furthermore if you want to really be able to have some degree of trust in said statments they'd be produced by an independent auditing/accounting firm and even then one could maybe reasonably doubt them.

I'm not hating on BMORG here, don't get me wrong. But by their own numbers they are at least an $8.5M dollar a year organization and growing. A single sheet listing expences may be more than "just about no (financial) information" but not by much in that context.

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Postby Ranger Genius » Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:19 pm

Since the BMorg is a non-profit, I think a full accounting is a matter of public record. And maybe we just don't know where to look to get the income statement. The page I linked to was one click away from the afterburn report main page, after all.
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Postby Nightterror » Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:28 pm

As a Non-profit they are required to file an annual tax return. The tax return includes information on their assets, managers, grants, contributions, expenses. They are not required to prepare or provide a financial statement. The prior 3 years of tax returns must be available for public viewing at their home office. Unless, they can prove the tax returns are being used as a tool of harrassment. There are other rules too but this is the basics.

Also, to be able to budget income and expenses with any amount of certainty, they would require at minimum a Reviewed Financial statement prepare by a Licensed independent CPA.

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Re: Who owns Burning Man?

Postby rodent » Thu Jul 28, 2005 6:54 pm

Blue Jester wrote: The reason that I ask is some guy on tribe.net was ranting on about the owners are making so much money blah, blah, blah.


You should read his most recent bla bla bla's and the people completely tearing his points apart...

http://www.nwtekno.org/vb/showthread.ph ... adid=89149

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Postby Kinetic IV » Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:18 pm

Oh, it's that guy again. Now it makes sense. Actually it doesn't but you get my point.
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Postby Ron » Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:22 pm

Ranger Genius wrote:Since the BMorg is a non-profit,.....


Um, it isn't a non-profit, it is an LLC.

See http://afterburn.burningman.com/04/fina ... cture.html

As such the BMORG's tax filings are private, unless they choose to release them or someone gets a court order.

Again, not hatin' just sayin'...

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Postby Nightterror » Thu Jul 28, 2005 7:53 pm

eeeeeeeeerrrrtttt - ding ding ding

You are correct sir, LLC.

As a privately held LLC. We don't have the right to any financial information.

Besides that, if you want to go, pay the ticket price. If you don't you'll miss out on all the fun.
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Postby rodent » Thu Jul 28, 2005 8:01 pm

Kinetic IV wrote:Oh, it's that guy again. Now it makes sense. Actually it doesn't but you get my point.


I'm almost tempted to invite him over HERE. He makes AllanonII look like a sane man.

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Postby spectabillis » Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:12 pm

I DO BEEEE-OTCH!

STEP OFF AND PAY UP YOUR FEE!
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Postby Ranger Genius » Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:37 pm

Ron wrote: Um, it isn't a non-profit, it is an LLC.


You're right. I was confusing it with the BRAF. When you look at the list of expenses there, though, it's easy to justify the price of the ticket. And art grants are a very small portion of it. Getting rid of them would only save about $8 a person. Whoopty-fucking-doo. But I'm mixing my threads here.
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Postby helitack » Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:45 pm

Bottom line, who cares?
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Postby Kinetic IV » Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:56 pm

Amen!
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Postby Ron » Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:23 pm

Seems to me anyone who cared about the long term health of the burn would have a legitimate curiosity about how the cash is handled. It isn't like money issues have caused the demise of countless other such efforts or anything. I mean, sure, money isn't as important as policing the eplaya for every suggested violation of the commerce ban, say, but it is still important. ;)

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Postby Kinetic IV » Thu Jul 28, 2005 10:42 pm

I care about it but I'm simply choosing to focus my efforts on things I can change instead of wringing my hands over things I can't. In the 4 years I've been around the event I'm as close to finding out about the money side as I was from day one. Which means what I know is limited to the afterburn reports and hearsay evidence because the primary players in the know aren't talking.

Another perspective...if the money side was really corrupt I doubt the event would have lasted 20 years and scaled up to the size it is today. Those kinds of dramatic rampups have a tendency to highlight flaws...I'm not hearing many people talk about them, it's mainly where any extra money goes if there is any. And frankly I have no problem with the LLC members putting a little money back if there is a profit. There's a lot of work that goes into pulling this thing off and if their benefit from it includes monetary compensation, so what? IMHO there's nothing wrong with it. The event appears to be strong. There are no highly visible flaws with permits, paying for JOTS, or other things. I don't see the need to make a fuss over this. But I'll still read the arguments in case something comes along that would change my opinion. And I do wish you luck...if this is an angle you want to pursue have at it. </soapbox>
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 8:45 am

Ron wrote:Seems to me anyone who cared about the long term health of the burn would have a legitimate curiosity about how the cash is handled. It isn't like money issues have caused the demise of countless other such efforts or anything. I mean, sure, money isn't as important as policing the eplaya for every suggested violation of the commerce ban, say, but it is still important. ;)

Ron
Okay, I police the board for commerce violations. It's a way of keeping an important facet of the community (for me) going. I hate commercial culture and the way it permeates life everywhere in this country/culture.
I do this a member of this board. To improve my experience. As a volenteer.
I don't want to get involved in the money aspect of this event. It's not where I can give the most of myself and my talents. I've glanced over the afterburn reports, sure, and I don't really see gross leakages of money. Was it 2003 where they didn't have money to pay a board member's salery for a few days until they started getting in ticket money in Jan 04? That may smack of mismangement, but growing fast seems as good or better a probable cause. And ~15% increase in attendence (as I recall the last tiem someone on this board calculated it) isn't easily absorbed.
And none of you sure are repeating the really good implausable rumors that I heard.
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Postby Ron » Fri Jul 29, 2005 10:52 am

Oh, my goodness. For the record the only folk "spreading rumors," in this thread are the ones saying that BMORG is a not-for-profit, that all the financial information is out there, and so on. And I certainly haven't suggested I think there's corruption or the like in the handling of the money, nor passed along a single rumor. You two doth protest a bit much, seems to me.

The bottom line is that BMORG is a privately held LLC and as such we *can't* know if the money is well handeled. Not without extraordinary openness and willingness on the part of the LLC. None of us can get the information we'd need to make a firm and reasonable opinion on how rich any of the LLC owners are getting, how well the money is spent, or so on. Not without a court order.

That's what I'm saying. I'm not implying that lack of information equates to malfience on the part of the BMORG. I'm not spreading any rumors at all. I am amused at how quickly the "protecting the ORG," strawman gets built on the eplaya, yes. And trying to poke some good natured fun at those with hay in their hands, that too. But that's about it, really.

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Postby swampdog » Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:07 am

for the record, the figure for total expenses on the link from Genius above ($8,557,308) equals almost exactly 35,000 (people) times $250.

I'm mildly curious to see full financial disclosure, but as others have stated, I get my money's worth out of my $250, and $250 is a fraction of the total cost of the event to me. My travel costs from WA state to BRC are nearly that much. So I don't worry that much. The expenses published are enough for me.
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Postby MoisturePup » Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:25 am

Ron wrote:Oh, my goodness. For the record the only folk "spreading rumors," in this thread are the ones saying that BMORG is a not-for-profit, that all the financial information is out there, and so on. And I certainly haven't suggested I think there's corruption or the like in the handling of the money, nor passed along a single rumor. You two doth protest a bit much, seems to me.

The bottom line is that BMORG is a privately held LLC and as such we *can't* know if the money is well handeled. Not without extraordinary openness and willingness on the part of the LLC. None of us can get the information we'd need to make a firm and reasonable opinion on how rich any of the LLC owners are getting, how well the money is spent, or so on. Not without a court order.

That's what I'm saying. I'm not implying that lack of information equates to malfience on the part of the BMORG. I'm not spreading any rumors at all. I am amused at how quickly the "protecting the ORG," strawman gets built on the eplaya, yes. And trying to poke some good natured fun at those with hay in their hands, that too. But that's about it, really.

Ron


But really... what does it matter if somebody is profiting? They own the event, they started it, they worked hard to nurture it, they grew it into what it is today after 20 years of work. And people are bitching because somebody might be making enough to make that all worth doing? Now that is selfish!

Who here wouldn't want to get rich off an idea they had?
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 1:05 pm

Ron wrote:Oh, my goodness. For the record the only folk "spreading rumors," in this thread are the ones saying that BMORG is a not-for-profit, that all the financial information is out there, and so on.
Oh, my goodness. For the record that last line was not directed at you, but at the people who were saying that there was something untoward going on. Frankly, I felt if you're gonna be talkin' sh*t, you may as well actually say something that's going to be fun to refute rather than pale colorless "someone's getting rich off this."

I want a good over the top full of decadent incidentals worthy of urban legend status rumor...

No, please don;t
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Postby ZaphodBurner » Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:48 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:I want a good over the top full of decadent incidentals worthy of urban legend status rumor...


In order to save money, they don't actually burn the man. At a secret time during the week, known only to Larry Harvey (who pockets the money), the man is hastily removed and stashed in Gerlach.

The "man" that is burned in its place is an exact duplicate, so the Burners are nary the wiser.

Okay, that's an exaggeration. But this isn't: My first day back to work after the Burn last year, when I still wouldn't shut the fuck up about what I'd just seen (that went on until, oh, last week) a coworker said she'd always wanted to go to BM but not any longer, now that it had been commercialized.

"What the hell are you talking about, commercialized?" I said. "No it's not."
"Well, yes it is," she replied. "They sell stuff now and everything."
Told her the facts and reminded her that I hadn't even completely unpacked yet, and she dismissed it as if I'd just told her I'd seen Elvis.

Whatever. Life is too short to waste it arguing with cynics.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 29, 2005 3:10 pm

WAit, did you just say that the burning man is elvis?
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Postby ZaphodBurner » Mon Aug 01, 2005 5:02 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:WAit the burning man is elvis


I always suspected it and now you confirmed it!

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I found a new place to dwell
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Postby Kinetic IV » Mon Aug 01, 2005 6:17 pm

Oh gawd, wait till I tell some people in Branson about this. You thought there were spectator problems before? I hope the gate staff is ready to start inspecting tour busses. They'll come in droves to see The King!
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Postby Blue Jester » Tue Aug 02, 2005 2:43 pm

Wellety wellety wellety look whos a morron, I apologize about the no after burn report statement. obviously I don't know what I am talking about. any way Is there an earnings and spendings report? I could have sworn I saw one for prior years.
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