AFTERBURN REPORT 2004
The Box Office crew had an exciting year in 2004. Along with the introduction of a computerized ticket system and a few new faces to the group, we had the chance to build our own personalized Box Office and accompanying server room out of the skeletons of shipping containers.
The renovation was a year-long endeavor. Holes were cut for windows, flooring was added, counters were put in, we added new walls, electrical wiring, shelving, etc. etc. etc. We were building right up to the start of the event, and we left a lot of work for next year. It was a big project. Our hard work paid off when we were (nearly) ready for the event with a fully functional Box Office operation. We hope to have bigger windows next year, as our early concern about keeping dust out proved to be less of an issue than anticipated, and we want more openness to those coming to pick up tickets. Our computerized ticketing system proved to be a worthy decision. During this first year of using an electronic ticketing system on the playa, we encountered a few kinks to work out. Overall we managed a relatively smooth introduction of computers on the playa. The lines for will call weren't as long as in 2003. The system had a few hiccups, leading to a few moments of panic and some conflict, but the first year of a new project will always be the most difficult, and it leaves us room to grow.
We jumped a huge hurdle going electronic and constructing our own buildings, and looking back on the year, we've realized we still have a lot of work to do to complete our improvements. Our artist/staff ticket system will run more smoothly next year, as will the rest of the ticketing processes. In 2005, participants will find an even better Box Office operation and crew to welcome everyone onto the playa.
Somewhat in contrast to much of the Burning Man organization, the Accounting department works week in and week out keeping the rent paid, insurance up -to date, taxes current, and accounts balanced. This past year, payroll was the dominant theme. We undertook a major effort to changing status for many independent contractors to employees. In order to improve the efficiency of booking payroll, we switched payroll services. Payroll processing on the playa was a rush of intensely focused energy that few outside the world of festival bean-counting could hope to appreciate. At the end of the year, we converted from semi-monthly to bi-weekly pay periods to better accommodate some staff. While all that was happening, we managed the first major audit by a government agency, and we coped rather well with some challenging requirements. When Wells Fargo began charging $5 teller fees, we took it as our cue to establish a new banking relationship with Bank of the West, which we now use in parallel to Wells Fargo. In support of the computerized ticketing system being implemented for Box Office playa operations, we engaged a second merchant account provider for credit card ticket sales. It was a big year for firsts. Our hope for 2005 is for much fewer firsts in favor of much needed refinement.