The 2021 Community Broadcast for Lakes of Fire

LAKES LETTER || The 2021 Community Broadcast for Lakes of Fire

To our Burner Family,

As we look to the future, the Great Lakes Experimental Arts Board of Directors want to provide an update on Lakes of Fire 2021. If this does not answer your specific questions, please see our FAQ for more details.

Current Situation

Lakes of Fire takes place in the middle of June each year. As you may recall, the 2020 event was cancelled due to a life-threatening global pandemic. Unfortunately, the pandemic remains a significant safety concern as we enter 2021. We are heartbroken to announce, as a continued expression of Civic Responsibility: Lakes of Fire 2021 is cancelled.

We all deeply crave the experience of gathering round the lake. The void in our hearts has been deafening. There’s nothing more we want than to make good chaos with all of you. However, as we considered whether a 2,200+-person event can safely occur, the Board, with input from leadership, outlined criteria for what would need to be in place to safely hold an in-person event. While vaccine roll-out is underway, it is not clear that we will reach the widespread vaccination levels needed before June. Ultimately, the below criteria cannot be met for Lakes of Fire 2021.

Criteria for a safe future event:

  1. Large outdoor events are legally allowed by local, state, and national authorities. Currently, state reopening guidelines [PDF] identify widespread vaccine distribution and utilization as a requirement before large outdoor events will be permitted.
  2. The organization and leadership are able to meet safety and preparedness standards for a large, outdoor, multi-day event with the state and county health departments.
  3. A critical mass of Lead Volunteers are committed, capable, and fully engaged in running their departments without compromising their health and safety.
  4. The organization can afford the recommended safety measures and other potential costs (such as increased insurance premiums) necessary in order to produce a safe event.
  5. As a whole, the leadership is confident that, as a result of planning, preparation, and conditions, those attending the event are unlikely to spread or catch COVID-19.

We also recognize that holding an event this year would impose an unequal hardship for some of the members within our community. The Board believes that holding an event during a pandemic that continues to disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and people of color would only serve to create another barrier to participation for those groups. It is our responsibility to create a space in which creativity and expression can bloom, and that cannot happen if we ignore obstacles that exist for only some groups within our burner family.

What about my Ticket?

Because we cannot know what the next year will bring, we are refunding all tickets. Our next event faces many unknown factors, such as possible required reductions in population size, additional insurance requirements, or increases in infrastructure costs related to COVID-19. We are refunding all tickets sold with as close to a complete refund as we can while ensuring we can continue onward as an organization and event. We anticipate refunds for full price tickets to be $106 and half price tickets to be $53. Tickets purchased under the Low Income Discount program will be refunded at about $60, which is the full refund minus unrecoverable processing fees. Please allow a few weeks for instructions to be emailed to ticket holders at the address associated with their BurnerTicket account.

We are providing an option for people to choose to donate their ticket costs to GLEA to help us maintain the event and fund the art that is at the core of our mission as an all-volunteer, non-profit, arts organization. Please do not feel obligated in any way to donate. It’s most important that you take care of yourselves and your families, and we know this money is sorely needed by so many.

How can I get a ticket for the next event?

Ticket Holders by Drawing or Transfer: If we are able to hold our event with our normal population size in 2022, every current ticket holder who received their ticket via drawing or transfer will have the option to purchase a ticket for a 2022 event. If significant changes to the event are needed (e.g., reduction in size for safety reasons), we may be required to hold a new lottery.  This includes all lottery ticket holders who retained their tickets, those who received their tickets via transfer, and low income ticket holders who purchased and kept their lottery ticket.

Volunteers: Volunteers who purchased tickets through our Volunteer Ticket program in 2020 and those who volunteered at least 8 hours in 2020/2021 will get ticket offers for the next event.

Directed Theme Camp Tickets: Because it’s been so long since commitments were made and camps will be re-registering and starting anew (potentially with member turnover) Directed Tickets for Theme Camps will be refunded and a new application process will be held for the next event. We are currently discussing whether we can take 2020 ticket allotments into account when deciding on DTC tickets for the next event. 

Departmental Tickets: Due to the changing needs of the organization every year, these tickets will be refunded and returned to the issuing departments.

Will there be another lottery?

Probably! After the usual organizational needs have been met, any remaining tickets will be put into a randomized drawing and allocated in a similar fashion as previous years.

What about my Art Grant?

The core mission of our organization is to support art. The art grants team is preparing a communication to all granted artists that will go out within the next 24 hours explaining your options. If artists have any questions please reach out to your art grant facilitator or the Art Grant team at artgrants@lakesoffire.org.

Additional Concerns

We anticipate increased expenses due to COVID-19 precautions when we are able to hold our next event. Depending on best practices, we will likely need additional washing stations, portos and porto maintenance, gloves, masks, or other infrastructure we haven’t anticipated. We will also need to follow public gathering size restrictions which may impact event capacity.

Lakes of Fire must continue to carry liability insurance in order to function – we cannot have a successful event without it. Event insurance costs rose steeply (in general) in recent years, and may either grow substantially or be nearly impossible to obtain, depending on the pandemic situation and legal landscape by the time the next event happens. Each of these may impact our total budget, and the organization may respond by increasing ticket prices. We will explore any options to prevent financially impacting future attendees, and will keep the community updated.

Further 2021 Plans

It is really hard to accept that we won’t be able to see each other around Lucky Lake in 2021, but we are dreaming of the day when we can safely get together to make Lakes of Fire magic happen face to face once more. Until then, keep inspiring us from a (social) distance with your creative expression. We hope you continue to find new ways to bring the wonder and joy that is burning into your communities and daily lives, and take care of each other.

We will reach out later in the year to talk about how we can still have a stellar burn experience together.


With love, mourning, and growing hope for the future,

BrewBear, Jackpot, Jin, Love Warrior, Megan, Moni & Skennedy

(in consultation with the Lakes of Fire Department Leads)

Board of Directors

Great Lakes Experimental Arts