AfterBurn report: MicroBurn 2021
9th – 13th September 2021
as submitted to Burning Man Org
Introduction and Event Information
Due to the Covid pandemic there was no MicroBurn in 2020, however we returned in 2021 with our 7th annual event. The event took place at our regular home, which is a family run Eco Farm in Powys, mid Wales. The event was four days long, with approx 150 memberships sold.
There was much uncertainty & discussion whether we would be able to return in 2021 due to local Covid laws and our responsibility to the safety of our community. In the end MicroBurn 2021 was organised in just four weeks compared to our usual six months and with additional Covid measures. We were very fortunate to be able to have a venue who provided us with this flexibility to make a last minute decision without financial risk as well as a wonderful community to make it happen.
MicroBurn continued as a Private Limited Company (as setup in 2018) with official listing on the UK Companies House directory and completion of all required information delivered. Financial accounts were submitted in 2020 & 2021 for previous years. Several new Directors were appointed in 2021 to bring the total up to six directors for the limited company.
MicroBurn 2021 was run by around 30 leads, covering all areas from pre-event comms & planning roles to event time roles such as Build, Rangers, Welfare, Kitchen and many more. This year we had many new leads including some who had not previously attended MicroBurn, as well as other leads doubling up on roles due to the exceptional circumstances of the 2021 event. MicroBurn uses ‘Shepherds’ roles to provide guidance to leads as needed, and with the Shepherds and support of other experienced folks stepping up as community leaders we were able to make it work in a true example of communal effort.
MicroBurn uses Slack for online communication & regular online video calls, which are both open to anyone in the community who would like to join whether they are a named lead or not. We strongly believe in transparency and communal decision making as opposed to a hierarchy system.
We have a strong participation ethos; a burn this size needs a high proportion of volunteers and everyone is encouraged to do their bit. We had over 160 event time shifts, with approx 66% of these filled pre-event and then others filled either during entry process at Gate or during the event. This was much lower % than previous years, but to be expected in the circumstances.
MicroBurn 2021 was a very different MicroBurn from usual but as they say, “You get the Burn you need”, and those who attended had just that with many people saying it was the best MicroBurn yet.
After not being allowed to hold the event in 2020, the trials and tribulations, isolation, hardship, and loss that many of our community had gone through in the year following, we were determined not to let Covid 19 stop us being able to gather again in the beautiful Welsh Valleys for MicroBurn 2021.
However, due to both our legal and civic responsibilities it meant things were going to be a little different from usual. MicroBurn had to be as outdoor as possible for 2021 to comply with the Welsh Regulations and to keep everyone safe. We had a lot of meetings and a lot of discussion just around Covid 19 and what we needed to do to make MicroBurn 2021 happen.
Ultimately it meant three big changes people had to consider before buying their membership:
- Covid Testing Protocols All participants had to provide evidence of a negative lateral flow test at Gate to be admitted; no test result, no admittance.
- The Chapel would not be open for any events that year (indoor, non ventilated space). That meant no Rave at night, no Cabaret on Saturday night, and no Workshops in there.
- The Kitchen Bus was not going to be open to the public which meant no communal meals which is a really popular thing at MicroBurn where people come together to prepare and share a meal. It is the ideal community activity to get to know people and swap stories with one another.
We were fortunate to have the Deadly White Shade in the main field – a massive outdoor open sided structure – to protect us from the worst of the elements, courtesy of Bruce. And we had a Bar as usual, minus a couple of sides to create good airflow.
Because we could not keep music enclosed in the Chapel, all music elsewhere on site had to be kept to a reasonable level with no loud music at all after 11pm to ensure we kept the neighbours happy and complied with local regulations.
Lateral flow test kits were available on site should anyone require one and a comfortable, warm yurt, set aside as a quarantine area to be used in the event of anyone testing positive until they could make arrangements to leave site safely. Fortunately it was not required. In fact we encouraged participants to take a couple of lateral flow tests over the course of their first week when they returned to the default world and let us know if they tested positive. We received no reports of anyone testing positive after MicroBurn 2021 which is a testament to the measures put in place and to everyone involved helping to make the event safe and Covid Free.
In 2021 the ticket types were similar to previous years with Standard Adult, Low Income Adult, Child & Carer membership types at different prices. This year there were no communal meals as previously mentioned due to Covid risk and organisational challenges, so no kitchen memberships.
We did not sell out in 2021, as we had 175 memberships available but only sold 147 memberships.
|Ticket Type||Cost||Number Sold|
|Standard Memberships (adult)||£75||134|
|Child Membership (6-17yrs)||£20||2|
|Child Membership (0-5yrs)||Free||5|
|Low Income Memberships||£45||6|
MicroBurn also sells parking passes & live-in vehicle passes separately to memberships both to manage the numbers on site due to limited capacity and also to encourage participants to practice ride sharing and use public transport where possible in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the event and promote sustainable travel.
Ticket sales, including parking permits, additional donations and memberships of the kitchen project, generated £10,643. The total amount of money spent was £10,269.
More details can be seen in the 2021 Financial Summary
What Happened at the Event?
The theme camps at MicroBurn are a little different to larger burns, as the camping is all in one field in more of a ‘free camping’ style. We do have some structures in the main field which can be taken over by groups and this year those included Costume Camp, Electric Lazy & Unicorn Postal service.
This year since there were no communal meals so there were also more unofficial camps which organically formed in free camping, including a ‘family camp’ the far side of the camping area and one group who created a bar and late night hang out in another area of the camping.
MicroBurn may be small in size, but it still provides many sparks of creativity in our community and beautiful art. There was much less time to plan and build art than usual, however our creative community still provided amazing art. A highlight was a projection art piece which used an existing large stone in the main field to project visuals on to at night, which was mesmerising!
The effigy in 2021 was a beautiful Dandelion, and our Saturday evening burn ritual in the main field was complete.
In 2021 we had approx 30 events & workshops submitted to the WWW guide, including events such as Story Time, Poi for Beginners, Build a Bear workshop, The magic of whiteboards and many more! And we had many DJs providing fantastic music, including some of our younger community members.
In addition to the various events, there was always much entertainment in the bar, and also the Bar Outreach Team ensured that no Microburner was left out of being given the opportunity to participate even if they had just got out of their tent in the camping field!
Due to the noise restrictions, we re-introduced a silent disco with headphones available from a location in the main field and allowing participants to enjoy a shared music experience late at night even when we could no longer play amplified music. These were a great success, and have been used previously at MicroBurn in years gone by.
Participant safety and wellbeing are a priority at MicroBurn, and much thought and effort is put into keeping everyone safe and well. There is always a Site Lead on duty 24/7 during the event who is the escalation point for any issues, and is an experienced & trusted member of the community.
As in 2019, MicroBurn contracted the services of a trained medic to be present and provide care to participants as required. The cost was considered well worth it for the wellbeing of participants and peace of mind of the organisers. MicroBurn is over an hour drive to the nearest hospital and this also allowed us to be more self reliant as a community.
MicroBurn’s Rainbow Rangers looked out for us all throughout the event. Training sessions were held in avance online and onsite, and the Rainbow Rangers provided 24/7 coverage during the event time.
Welfare Enough provided Welfare support for participants at MicroBurn. This year we still used the yurt, but also created a bigger outdoor space and fire pit and only brought people inside if absolutely needed to reduce Covid risk. Training was provided at the start of the event to Welfare volunteers and via online training sessions pre-event.
We have a dedicated Fire Safety Lead, as well as our Health and Safety Lead, who organised all fire safety equipment, liaised the Effigy build teams and coordinated a team of fire marshals for the burn.
MicroBurn 2021 was under challenging circumstances, and was the only UK regional event to happen this year and one of the few in Europe. We are really proud of everyone involved to make it happen, and also to make it happen safely which was always our top priority. It was a true testament to the strength of the community and a shining example of the Burning Man principles in action.
There was a lot of hard work that went into pulling together the event at the last minute, but it was 100% worth it when we got there and we would do it again in a heartbeat!