11/05/2013

BRC LLC admits transparency oversights, "mistakes"

door at the burning man airport

SONOMA - In a closed door meeting the six members representing Black Rock City LLC, which is responsible for the annual Burning Man arts and music festival, agreed that mistakes had been made regarding their annual financial disclosures to the Burning Man community. A high level source attending the 4-day long offsite "Staff Retreat", where staffers and organizers examine "the state of Burning Man", confirms that event founder Larry Harvey became aware of the issue last week when a newly hired intern was doing an internal audit of the Afterburn website, where the financial data is posted.

Representatives from the six member board of Black Rock City LLC itself could not be reached to comment on the exact details of the mistakes that were made, as the retreat is ongoing, but an individual who wished to remain anonymous was quoted as saying:
It had been going on for 10 years or more, and I cannot believe nobody noticed sooner.
Sources close to the LLC reveal that the mistakes made are likely related to the possible intentional redaction of information about the multimillion-dollar corporations sources of income in the annual financial reports released to the public. Public records show that since at least 2001 the Financial Charts released by Black Rock City LLC show only expenditures, leaving out an itemized list of income sources.

In a prepared statement released this morning Marian Goodell, Director of Business and Communications, had this to say:
We at Burning Man value transparency. At the heart of our shared ethos is Decommodification. We believe that this founding principle guides us in creating an event free from the concerns of profit making and we strive to protect our community from those who would exploit it for financial gain. It is unfortunate that for over 10 years we have not been reporting the sources of our income and we will get to the bottom of how that happened. We are committed to doing right by our community and expect to have this matter resolved soon, holding whomever was responsible for the oversight to account.
Long held up as an example of financial transparency and goodwill on the part of Black Rock City LLC it is unclear how the lack of income disclosure on the annual financial reports released to the public went unnoticed for so long. With the annual staff retreat wrapping up soon sources close to the LLC claim that a series of resignations is likely.

While it remains unknown who had been withholding this financial information, and why it was withheld, members of the burning man community, who were reached for comment, were outraged by the revelations. An individual who wishes to be known as Ray commented on the news:
Man, I can't believe they would punk us like that, I mean, I trusted them and have bought tickets for 9 years thinking that they weren't selling out to the highest bidder, I guess I was wrong.
As to the impact on the community and the business once the financial information related to income is released, that remains uncertain. In an interview earlier this year Marion Goodell revealed a $150,000 site fee for a photo-shoot by the magazine VOGUE was collected at a recent event. With a long history of media exposure, book deals, and a popular new film, Spark: A Burning Man Story, it is likely that the era of seeing burning man as a zone that honors decommodification is over.