They say only love can break your heart, so it’s with total heartbreak that we are confirming that the event that we all love so much is cancelled for this year.
Like the R355, the road our team has travelled in the past couple of weeks has been bumpy – and the road ahead hasn’t always been clear. But, with the principle of Civic Responsibility in mind, and as a precautionary measure in light of the unfolding coronavirus situation, and in consultation with the relevant authorities, we’ve had to make the tough decision that the best course of action would be to hold off on our 2020 event.
We’ve had to make this difficult decision out of a duty of care to our global community at this time, before the many crews working on projects invest any further funds, resources and love in this year’s event. At the same time, from the perspective of our team, it’s at this time of year that we pull the trigger on deploying our DPW crew, and procuring the vast amount of materials, services and infrastructure that’s required to responsibly and successfully stage our annual event. None of this could be allowed to proceed in good conscience, knowing that we could be sending our people down a long bumpy road towards a destination that could turn out to be a mirage, or a health and safety disaster.
To everyone that has looked forward to our last gathering at Stonehenge Private Reserve as an opportunity to say farewell to the place that’s been home to our event and has played such a role in so many people’s experiences at our event over the years, we send our deepest sympathies: every member of our Operations team and all on DPW are equally heartbroken that we will not be able to meet in this way, this time.
With our 2020 event not feasible under the present circumstances, our team’s energies and thinking are now turned towards the future – and for AfrikaBurn, that points in one direction: Quaggafontein, which will be the new home of our event from 2021. We’ll be sharing news about the plans we have in store soon – and for those who would like to know more about what our new home in the Tankwa Karoo holds in store, head to the new pages of our website.
We’re a resilient and resourceful bunch of renegades, creatives and idealists – and we’re well-versed in riding out wild storms and rocky roads. So, as we all help each other to navigate this particular curveball, let’s keep the fire alive and remember the important lessons that we’ve all learned in the desert over the years: look out for each other, help your fellow human, show the planet some respect and always wash your hands.
Q: Why has the decision been taken to cancel at this time – why not wait longer to see if the coronavirus situation changes?
A: It’s a reality that even though the gates to our event open every year at the end of April, there’s a huge amount of activity that takes place within our community and event team long before the event itself – so as far as ‘the AfrikaBurn event’, consider March the time when things really kick off – and when our community and team start to invest serious amounts of money, energy and love into the experiment that we all co-create every year.
Knowing full well that many collectives working on their projects would be investing time, money and love in something that might not happen has not sat well with our team – and this has left us with no option but to pull back at a time when we would still be able to save a lot of people the pain of making even greater personal investment in travel, transport and tickets. Once it became clear that it was not a matter of whether there would be pain, but rather what we could do to minimise the pain, cancellation became the clearest and most considerate course of action.
Q: Can my camp and I not simply go to Stonehenge Private Reserve and stage our own burn on the event site?
A: As the event site is a private property, access to it is only possible with the owner’s permission. And, though we understand that many crews have the necessary camping gear and resources to undertake a journey to the Tankwa, we strongly advise against travelling to the event site and must point out that any unannounced arrival at the event site would amount to trespassing on private property. Just like you wouldn’t want someone arriving unannounced in your lounge, so the same applies to the folks that own, and live on, the property where our event has been held.
Q: Will AfrikaBurn offer refunds on event tickets?
A: Though the terms and conditions on our website and the ticket sales page for our event states that we do not offer refunds, our team is investigating all avenues that could make it possible to provide reimbursements. We have instructed our ticketing provider, Quicket, to hold this position and not issue refunds until we know more.
Q: Why does AfrikaBurn not offer refunds on tickets?
A: Ours is a Non-Profit Organisation and the way that our event expenditure works is that the many necessary elements that make it possible to stage our event (including procurement of materials, salaries for our staff and the cost of transport of vehicles and materials to and from our event site many months before the event date) have to be paid for well in advance – effectively, budgets for each event start being spent from the start of our annual financial cycle, in August of each year. Included in this expenditure are the many Creative and Mutant Vehicle Grants that are awarded to various Artwork and Mutant Vehicle projects, none of which can be reclaimed from Collectives that have purchased materials in order to build their projects. This means that the costs cannot be reclaimed, and this in turn informs our usual position on ticket refunds. We have begun a consultation with our event cancellation insurance provider to find out what claim we have in respect of funds being returned.
Q: Will I be able to redeem my ticket at the 2021 AfrikaBurn event?
A: As explained above, many of the costs already incurred in planning and proceeding with our 2020 event cannot be reclaimed, and those costs have been paid from 2020 tickets. At this time (7 months into our annual financial cycle) many costs have already been incurred due to our plans and spend for the 2020 event having gone ahead – and it’s many of these costs that can’t be reclaimed, which has a direct effect on the options available to our team in terms of tickets being redeemed at a future date. At this stage, our team are considering all solutions that will enable our community and organisation to ride out this year’s bumps in the road.
Q: What should Theme Camp, Artwork and Mutant Vehicle crews that invested time, money and resources in creating projects for the 2020 event do now?
A: Many community members that are involved in building projects for this year’s event will naturally be asking what cancellation means for them – or will justifiably be frustrated that their plans would now have to be put on hold. To these crews, we extend our deepest regret and sympathies, as we feel and understand the pain of having to see something you love so much stopped in its tracks and that all of our many plans will not come together at Stonehenge Private Reserve this time round.
Please feel free to reach out to the Wrangler that’s been your point of contact with our organisation – our team is available and ready to assist with advice on how to hold your project over until next year.