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Organizers denied permit for Burning Man alternative event

March 26, 2021 GMT

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Organizers of a proposed outdoor arts festival have been denied a permit to hold the event this summer in the Black Rock Desert, the same northern Nevada region where Burning Man is held.

Everywhen co-founder Mathew Gilbuena said their monthslong efforts to obtain a permit were fruitless because the Bureau of Land Management favored the Burning Man Project, an arts festival held in the Black Rock Desert since 1990 that has drawn about 80,000 attendees in recent years, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Thursday.

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“With Burning Man being as large as it is, the plan is written so that they consume most of the available resources, leaving little available for other events to take place on the playa,” Gilbuena said.

The agency said in an email on Thursday that the permit application was “denied for multiple reasons” including but not limited to staffing limitations and the need for an environmental analysis.

Bureau of Land Management spokesperson Heather O’Hanlon said Everywhen is entitled to apply again.

In the permit application, organizers proposed a 25,000-person, eight-day event held from July 25 to Aug. 2, encouraging people from around the country to bring their art to be repurposed or recycled. Tickets went on sale in early March for more than $200, but have since been refunded, Gilbuena said.

The group is now adjusting their plans to host a much smaller event in another undetermined location.

The Bureau of Land Management and the Burning Man Project are currently in the planning stages for a possible event this year, and expect a decision to be made by May.

Emails obtained by the Gazette-Journal show Gilbuena and other organizers were working with the agency since fall 2020 to create plans for a viable event. Gilbuena said the agency was originally willing to staff eight police officers at the event but then rescinded its offer.

Organizers were inspired to host a festival after a more organic gathering happened last year in the absence of Burning Man, which was canceled because of COVID-19. The group is considering locations closer to Reno.