AFTERBURN REPORT 2002
The Communications Department experienced a number of changes and developments in 2002. Most teams working in the communications realm saw improvements in their processes, and some accepted increases in the scope of their responsibilities.
The Media Team continues to oversee playa-based publicity operations. In 2002, these folks managed to check in representatives from 300 media outlets. The team remains militant about keeping the number of camera crews to the minimum necessary, and their commitment led to great strides in demanding advance registration and check-in as a requirement to attend and film the event. Although the number of requests increased, the number of crews allowed to attend decreased. Two significant projects that filmed at Burning Man 2002 are currently in the works or nearly finished. "Confessions of a Burning Man" was shown as pre-release sneak previews right after Burning Man 2002. The Gone off Deep production crew began filming at the 2002 event and will continue behind-the-scenes production through the 2003 event.
Communications staff members continue their vigilant monitoring of the internet for improper use of the Burning Man name and logo. Over 22 violations were found between the event and the end of 2002. Nearly all those contacted complied when asked to cease and desist. The JackRabbitSpeaks internet newsletter continues to reach a population of about 30,000, and the addition of another "writing rabbit" helped to keep the JRS coming out on a regular basis.
The Black Rock Gazette once again delivered a stellar daily paper on the playa. The future of the BRG was in question at the end of 2001, as the long-time publisher chose not to continue her role with the paper. However, a grass-roots effort by members of the BRG staff put the screws to the Burning Man Senior Staff with promises of a greatly reduced budget and fewer headaches. After some debate, approval was granted. The Gazette hit some bumps, but the team and new publisher prevailed, and the BRG lives on. The October Decompression saw the premier of the Black Top Gazette, an off-playa edition of the paper. They published an edition for the Spring Town meeting, as well.
The Print Production cycle turned out a Summer Newsletter, Survival Guide, tickets, ticket postcards, and What Where When. With the return of an experienced staff member, the projects all finished ahead of schedule and under budget. The biggest and most welcome change was the addition of a new ticket vendor, who helped make possible a return to utilizing our own unique ticket design. This was a change welcomed by staff and participants.
Often overlooked, the Documentation Team benefited from the return of most of its experienced filmmakers and videographers to document funded art works and the Burn. A clip of the Burn was shown at the October 2002 Decompression party, and a preview clip showed uncompleted coverage of the projects of funded artists over the past 4 years. This latter clip has since shown at a number of venues, and the organization is putting aside some limited funding in order to complete this project. In 2003, additional fund-raising efforts may be launched in order to edit and finish the piece.
Significant change and expansion increased the role of Regional Contacts. Over the year, 22 new contacts stepped into this demanding role, some filling in for others who departed, and others beginning new chapters in the Burning Man Regional Network. The Regionals section of the web site was redesigned to give each region its own page with relevant contact and list-subscription information along with a local events calendar. Additionally, a Regional Network Committee was formed, and a number of projects were launched that will bring important growth in the future. Most importantly, the Regional Network will begin to work closely with the Black Rock Arts Foundation. By late 2002, over 72 regional contacts had emerged in the United States and around the world. The regionals are the future for the Burning Man culture.
The Web Team also saw a number of changes. As the staff grows and new participants are added, infrastructure must respond to the expansion. Experienced members struggled to oversee projects and processes, and they suggested forming a committee to help accelerate the decision-making process. The group, called the Skill Leads, meet twice a month, while the general web team meets once a month. The most significant project the team chose to undertake began after the 2002 event with initiation of a redesign of the web site to be launched in mid-2003.
Communication activities continue year-round for Burning Man, and these workers oversee all aspects of public communication for the event.