Correction to 2012 financial impact in Nevada

About a year ago, the Black Rock City Census reported that the economic impact of Burning Man participant spending in the state of Nevada was in the range of around $5M. A few months ago, we published our findings from the 2013 Burn which concluded that the projected spending of Burning Man participants in the state of Nevada coming to and from the event in the late summer of 2013 was around $55M.

A reader of this blog post pointed out the broad discrepancy in these figures which caused me to go back and look at our reporting from that period. In fact, I realized I had made a simple copy/paste error when working on that part of the 2012 report. I am including the full data in this posting to set the record straight. 

Illustrates the projected spending of Burning Man participants from 2012 to 2013

Projected spending of Burning Man participants from 2012 to 2013

The corrected figure for 2012 spending was roughly $43.5 Million dollars of spending by participants to and from the event, significantly more than the number published in this blog a year ago. 

This figure also reveals a 26% growth in amount of spending by participants in Nevada year over year. About 20% of this growth can be attributed to just the larger number of people coming to the event in 2013. However, there still is a significant 6% growth in spending beyond that indicating that Burners are spending more per individual.

95% confidence interval in projected spending

95% confidence interval in projected spending

These projections are derived from our weighted survey of participants. As such, there is a margin of error which I’ve illustrated in a plot in the graph above. The take aways are that the event is a significant and growing impact to the economic well being of northern Nevada. 

I apologize for the error and want to thank Katrina Raenell of the Reno Gazette Journal for bringing this to our attention. 

Scribble (Black Rock City Census)


3 responses

  1. COUNTING MORE NEVADA SPENDING: Your census does not ask how much in CAR and RV rentals and repairs and spending were done in Nevada. I spent $650 on brakes and oil change. What am amazing GAP in data questioning since half of people or 2/3 come in a RV. better question is do you OWN or RENT your RV. and how much did you spend IN nevada on your RV or vehicle.
    rental cars and trucks and RVs IN nevada im sure are huge #’s that I dont think your adequately tracking. car repairs are also significant. many people bring the RV they OWN, and end up doing repairs or maintenance along the way, because they only drive it once a year to burning man.
    You should also break down food costs For burning man at BRC and food costs at restaurants and fast food coming or going from BRC. you can spend $50 just coming or going to BRC on prepared meals, restaurants / fast food per person very easily. another question should be how many nights of hotels did you stay (in reno etc) before or after burning man. many people stayed at the sands in reno and at Grand Sierra resort across from the super walmart. they both had parties and parking lots were full of burner vehicles and dusty bikes and im sure people catching flights. it took me 3 years attending BRC to figure this out this year. for sure, I am booking a room next year, to decompress, take a shower, and continue partying for a day or so after the burn, and maybe before the burn. another overlooked question – did you stay at or go to a casino on your trip. net winnings or losses. (zero didnt gamble). would have stayed at casino, but was booked monday night sept 1. slept in rv in parking lot at casino.
    If BRC could convince one of the water parks to stay open thru monday, or tuesday, that would be incredible to go to a water park. (that would add spending to nevada, and brc or word of mouth would advertise its open for burners) I didnt look this year, but last year tuesday after the burn, they were all closed for the season. Who doesnt want to go to a water park after the burn?? I think they would have thousands of people waiting in line. This is a real marketing failure on someones part, the water park perhaps?

    you should also be asking questions about virgin dark tards. people with NO lights at night, walking or even on bikes with NO lights. and how we feel about this. personally I feel admitting 40% virgins (the # I heard), this year, is too much, as culture definately felt different, and more like default world than in previous years, and street clothes, no lights, and a lot more euro people who didnt get it, who said they would rather have spent the money on a different type of vacation. i would rather they stay home. im seriously questioning whether burning man has finally jumped the shark, (after attending last 3 burns). why is someone not tracking T&A ?? did you go topless? In previous years, there was so many topless women, I stopped looking after 2 days. this year I can not say that. The culture is changing, and if you want to write meaningful questions to track the culture, its never too late to start. I didnt read 1 question about tracking the culture. get rid of the stupid questions about how you FEEL, that took WAY too many clicks to answer. As you can tell, I was a bit disappointed by radical inclusion of stupid questions and lack of relevant questions. I feel like I just wasted 30 mins on the census, and would NOT do it again as a result. (not to mention writing this).

    while on rant: it was hard for last minute camp mates to get tickets, some people you heard couldnt get tickets. you should find a way to limit tickets to new people more.and grant more tickets to previous burners not just people part of an official camp.

    Like if you complete the census you get a confirmation # that can be used for getting on fast track ticket list. something like this.

    Thank you for all the people who work so hard and tirelessly to put on this great event.

    more rant:
    really objectionable material to follow: Thank God this is anonymous!

    RAISE THE TICKET PRICE from 400 to 700

    You should consider having DOUBLE the low income tickets you give out.
    It was obvious to me (struggling to find a ticket a face value a month before the event, that the goigng price was $1000 per ticket, and you had almost no chance of getting one at face value due to the virgin invasion this year. I barely managed to get 1.)
    you should RAISE the ticket price of all other tickets to $600-$700.
    This will do several things.
    1) reduce the # of scalpers willing to buy tickets with promise of easy profits, and their input costs are higher, and profit will go down. you will definately force SOME of them out of the scalping business.
    2) discourage virgins. we do not need more bucket listers and tweens (or 18-25 year olds) the average age dropped from 40 to 30 this year. a HUGE culture shift, not for the better.
    The price of the ticket, compared with total spent on attending the event, is rather small at $400. any seasoned burner would not mind paying more, and sees the value.

    we also want you to give more to support MORE art projects with all that extra money.

    and you guys are smart, you will find some way to spend that on more paid staff, and other things that you cant do now. how about (deleted) replaced with (donate) the local PD and BLM with some of that money so burners incur less harassment and civil rights violations? If they received a stipend, perhaps law enforcement would be relaxed. although this year it seemed more less in your face, than in the previous 2.

    Im sure the DPW could put that extra money to good use.


    Consider having Burning Man on private land, maybe indian reservation, with the extra money, and no more BLM police state.

    consider buying your own private land and no BLM police state.

    if you buy the land, you can build permanent structures. (if thats your thing) and a meriticriteous argument could be made that this would be a benefit to the instrastructure of BRC and DPW.

    some art would not have to be burned, it could remain in place as a year round “tourist attraction”. no need to “remove it by burning” to avoid disassembly and lugging it home to dispose of. You could KEEP a lot of the art and build more every year! Think, in 5-10 years, you would have an amazing tourist attraction / RV park / CITY being built with infrastructure and permanent citizens. in 20 years? who knows how much art and you have created a “permanent legacy.”

    I hear tomorrow land is buying / bought their own land in Altanta.
    why cant burning man? PS thank God burning man does not look and act like tomorrow world.

    call it Burning man RV park?? with full hookups. DPW will love that!
    Black Rock City, (Now with indoor plumbing.)
    an RV park / tourist attraction with all the leftover ART
    come when you want, stay as long as you want.

    Winnemucca down the road has cheap land. $250 per acre. what excuse do you have for NOT buying your own land? just BUY a RV park that is adjacant to 1000’s of acres you can also buy and use for burning man.

    you guys are not stuck in the dark ages like when you started this. you HAVE CASH and CREDIT AND RESOURCES AND PEOPLE TO HELP YOU. EVOLVE.

    Yours truly,
    The 99% of Black Rock City

    • Hi Marco,
      You sent us a quite long email and I’ll try to answer it in two ways:
      1) Estimating Nevada spending could have been done in more details than what we covered (with the cost of increasing survey length, though). Thanks for your suggestions, we will take it into account for next year if that set of questions is reused.
      2) The 2nd half of your message should be addressed to the Burning Man organization and not the Census. The Census is a group of volunteers (researchers, coordinators, analysts, project managers,…). We collaborate with the Org, but we are not the Org. Consequently, we have no way to convince them to buy a land and build BM RV park 😉 To send your complaints, rant, comments or feedback to the Org, I suggest that you use the appropriate tool ( ) if you want your message to be read by people working for the Org.
      Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost aka Hunter

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