2021 Cancellation General FAQ

We will work towards keeping this FAQ sheet updated to answer frequently asked questions we receive regarding the recent cancellation of the 2021 event.

Please read through our community statement and this FAQ to check if your question has already been answered before emailing Department Leads and/or the Board.

While we love hearing from you, we do want to stay appropriately whelmed, and fielding questions we’ve already answered will quite possibly tip us into overwhelmed territory.

Do you miss us? Are you sad about canceling?

We miss everyone terribly. Collectively, Leadership deliberated for many hours over the past few months to make sure that this was the right choice for our organization. Coming to this conclusion was heart-wrenching for us, and we recognize the emotional toll that missing this event for two years will impose on our community. We want to take a moment to acknowledge this hurt, frustration, or any other hardship that this cancellation will cause.

What’s going to happen with my ticket?

Because we cannot know what the next year will bring, we are refunding all tickets sold. Our next event may face challenges including potential required reductions in population size, insurance requirements, or increases in infrastructure costs related to COVID. We are refunding all tickets sold, as close to a complete refund as we can while ensuring we can continue onward as an organization and event. We anticipate refunds for full price tickets to be $106, and half price tickets to be $53. Tickets purchased under the Low Income Discount program will be fully refunded minus about $2 in non-refundable payment processor fees; this will come out to be about $60.

We were unable to determine a feasible and affordable way to increase refunds and we deeply regret that – there is no perfect solution.

Please allow one to two weeks (roughly February 21st, 2021) for instructions to be emailed to ticket holders at the address associated with their BurnerTicket account.

We are providing an option for people to choose to donate their ticket cost to GLEA to support maintaining the event and funding the art that is the core of our mission as an all-volunteer non-profit arts organization. Please do not feel obligated in any way to donate – we want our burner family to take care of themselves and their families, and we know this money is sorely needed by many.

As of this moment, all ticket transfers have been halted so that ticket holders can complete this process.

Why is this a partial refund?

While all tickets are technically non-refundable, we think it is our ethical duty to return as much money to ticket holders as possible without compromising the existence of the event. Even with significant cutbacks to our operating costs (see our 2019 Financial Statement), ticket refunds cut deeply into our emergency funds. New ticket sales will only come after many operational expenses are due (like our land deposit), and will be complete before some event costs are known (like our insurance premiums).

Barring a full refund, our goal was to refund as close to the full ticket amount as possible.

Will I get a ticket next year?

  • Ticket Holders by Drawing or Transfer: If we are able to hold our event with our normal population size in 2022, everyone who currently holds a ticket will have the option to purchase a ticket for a 2022 event. If we reduce the size of a 2022 event due to safety recommendations, we may hold a new randomized drawing. This includes all lottery ticket holders who retained their tickets, those who received their tickets via transfer, and low income ticket holders who purchased and kept their lottery ticket.
  • Volunteers: Volunteers who purchased tickets through our Volunteer Ticket program in 2020 and those who volunteered at least 8 hours in 2020/2021 will get ticket offers for the next event.
  • Directed Theme Camp Tickets: Years will have passed since theme camps made their commitments. Since camps will be re-registering and starting anew (potentially with member turnover) directed tickets for theme camps will be refunded and a new application process will be held for the next event. We are currently discussing whether we can take 2020 ticket allotments into account when deciding on DTC tickets for the next event.
  • Departmental Tickets: Due to the changing needs of the organization every year, these tickets will be refunded and returned to the issuing departments.

Why are we doing a refund? Couldn’t we just keep everything as it is and carry it over to the next event?

Just like everything this last year, we are expecting changes will be necessary for our next event. There’s the possibility we may need to scale down the number of participants, we may be faced with higher insurance rates, and the need for personal protective equipment (masks, extra hand washing stations, additional infrastructure that can accommodate social distancing guidelines) will increase expenses. To save headaches for everyone involved, refunding tickets makes the most sense. This way, you get your money back (unless you decide to donate), and we can start off the next event with a more straightforward process when we distribute the tickets.

For additional insight on our regular expenses, both for hosting an event as well as annual passive costs, please take a peek at our Financial Statement from 2019.

I had a lottery or transfer ticket. Do I have to rejoin the lottery?

If you received, retained, and were refunded a lottery ticket for the now cancelled 2021 event, you will not need to rejoin the lottery. You will be given a chance to purchase a ticket for a limited time before the 2022 event, similar to the Volunteer tickets.

If you transferred or previously refunded a ticket you will need to rejoin a possible future lottery.

I had a Volunteer ticket. What about that?

You will be refunded (proportionately, depending on your original payment) and will be sent a new offer for the next event.

What will happen with our theme camp’s directed sales tickets?

Directed Theme Camp tickets will be refunded and returned. The DTC ticket application process for the next event is still in the works; we will make sure to share with the community when it’s been fully fleshed out. Having a 2020 Directed Theme Camp Ticket does not guarantee you a ticket for the next event. However, prior awards of Directed Tickets may be taken into consideration for camps who re-apply.

We registered our Theme Camp with Placement last year. Do we have to register again?

Yes. Theme Camp registration would have closed after the 2020 event was cancelled, so the process was never finalized. Accordingly, we are restarting and all theme camps must submit a new placement registration for the next burn.

I received an art grant in 2020/2021. What do I do now?

The Art Grants team is preparing a communication to all granted artists that will go out within the next 24 hours explaining your options. If you have any questions, please reach out to your art grant facilitator or artgrants@lakesoffire.org.

Will we keep Lakes in Space as the theme?

Yes! An effigy and art grants were selected and contractual agreements were signed with the current theme in mind, and artists haven’t had the opportunity to show off all their hard work. So keep on making your art for…

Lakes in Space: Splashdown
Lakes in Space Episode II: A New Hope
Lakes in Space III – Revenge of the MOOP
Lakes in Space III – The Search for Grok

Lucky Lakes: The final frontier
These are the voyages of the Starship, LOF
Its continuing mission
To explore strange new worlds
To seek out new art and new creativity
To boldly go where no event has gone before

(Okay, we got a little silly in our emails. Clearly we’re all still on board with the space theme!)

“Why didn’t you…”

Require testing/vaccination/masks?

Requiring testing, proof of vaccinations, or masks would impose an unequal hardship for some of the members of our community. As more data emerges, a troubling reality we are seeing is that people of color, people with lower incomes, and people who live in more rural areas are getting vaccinated at lower rates than their counterparts while also seeing higher infection rates, hospitalizations, long-term complications, and mortality. We cannot impose this sort of requirement without furthering the inequities experienced by these groups, especially during a pandemic that continues to disproportionately affect them.

Additionally, we have people within our community who are immunocompromised and have valid concerns they will not be protected by a vaccine. The need for herd immunity should not be overlooked when we explore ways to actively practice harm reduction. When we look at this topic logistically, we asked ourselves: Who are we willing to designate as the gatekeepers of our community who will inevitably take on increased exposure risk as well as the burden of acting as an authority on judging whether or not any provided documents are authentic? During the process of making our decision this was a question we were unwilling to answer.

While we love to practice “Safety Third”, we refuse to behave in a way that will actively put participants, volunteers, and the general public at risk of contracting a deadly disease.

Cancel earlier?

We wanted to ensure we had as many answers as possible for your many questions and that we had the clearest financial picture possible for a second year without an event. We also needed to coordinate with our Ticketing Team and ticket providers to explore all the options for a smooth cancellation. Lastly, we wanted to be sure our cancellation and refund procedures would be as clear and fair as possible to the community.

Cancel later?

Hosting this burn is a huge undertaking with a lot of decisions that need to be made early in the year, both for organizers and those planning to bring it hard to Lakes. We would impose hardships on those who would be putting in work only to have the event cancelled on short notice.

Just make it smaller?

A smaller event with COVID-19 infection spread is still an event with COVID-19 infection spread. Additionally, tickets are in hands, and there is no way to put that cat back in the bag equitably.

Just make it bigger?

That would be counter-intuitive.

Just do it anyway?

We are focused on honoring the 10 Principles of Burning Man, and hosting an event that would likely lead to a higher COVID-19 infection rate directly contradicts those principles. This could directly harm both our burn community and the local community.

Move the date?

Following the current local, state, and national timelines, we recognize the likelihood that the concerns we have will not be addressed wholly this year. That is a gamble we are not willing to take.

Split it into smaller burns?

Hosting multiple burns will require more than many of our volunteers are able to realistically give. Most of the criteria we listed for having a burn apply regardless of size. Multiple smaller events with COVID-19 infection spread will be multiple events with COVID-19 infection spread.