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AFTERBURN REPORT 2002

Administration

Burning Man's administration team oversees the management of the financial and support structure for the event. Year-round operations occupy 17 full-time employees.

The biggest change for 2002 was the great office move made in April. Leases for both offices were up at the same time, and the deflation of the dot-com economy provided a number of viable options for a badly needed relocation. It seemed for one miserable moment that we would never find the right place in time; however, in the 11th hour, a nearly perfect space was found. We rented 10,000 square feet on a 5-year lease, doubling the office space while keeping the rent nearly exactly what it had been. Staffers were initially concerned as the place needed a great deal of work; however, the landlord was willing to make improvements, and we made a successful move. We have eliminated the need for warehouse space by placing storage containers outside the office. This change forced us to improve the way we collect stray items, and overall the exercise has been a valuable change for the office. With no storage, we accumulate less useless junk.

The Ticket Sales process was tweaked for 2002 and again for 2003. The decision no longer to accept checks helped improve the revenue stream and eliminated the returned check process. The ticket team sent out tickets in record time, but they still want to improve their timeliness to keep participants from unnecessary stress. However, it's a great distraction and slows down the process when ticket buyers don't read directions, send the wrong amounts, write illegibly and email the team constantly asking for status updates.

The Accounting office went from two part-time staffers to one full-time and one part-time (almost full-time) person. As efficiency increases, this staffing level should reduce down again to one full-time and one part-time person, in addition to the Senior Staff member who oversees the department. The creation of a Budget Committee in 2002 began to improve the overall budget process, and the change will undoubtedly bring more benefits in 2003. Financials for 2002 can be found in this AfterBurn report, and should enlighten anyone wondering what Burning Man LLC does with 6 million dollars.

The Legal Team worked throughout 2002 to protect the Burning Man trademark. The Project's lead intellectual property rights lawyer followed up unsuccessful negotiations with a suit against Voyeur Video in spring of 2002, reaching a settlement in late 2002. Other efforts, including the typical cease-and-desist letters to infringers, continued. Legal Team members now have a discussion list to aid their coordination, and members bring a wide range of legal experience. They continue active advocacy on behalf of the Burning Man organization and event.

Ticket sales for the Burning Man event jumped in 2002, with over 1,200 online purchases made the day before online sales ended. This rush compelled the Box Office Team to manage over 5,000 will-call tickets, thanks to contributions from staff from Reno, Winnemucca, the Bay Area, Seattle, England and British Columbia!

Overseeing the administration of an organization as diverse and complex as Burning Man is always a challenge, but the Administrative arm of the event will continue managing, overseeing, and caring for the process behind the Burn.

Submitted by,
Marian Goodell

Click here to read the 2001 Administration/SF office report.