Zac Cirivello @ Burning Man

in Festival Guru's Talk/Music

[Text by Nadine Ng & Priscilla Ng]

zac-cirivelloZac Cirivello

Media Relations Coordinator
@ Burning Man

Burning Man is an experience like no other. Using the phrases “a communal permission engine” and “a temporary city”, Media Relations Coordinator Zac Cirivello tells BOOM his vision of the experience, and why it differentiates from conventional festivals around the world. The annual event at Nevada’s Black Rock Desert aims to engage attendees, creators and locals into manifesting a community of creativity and self-expression, sculpting a village of progressive culture and exchanges.

Cirivello describes Burning Man as a “civic community with a fully operational post office, airport, restaurants, clubs, medical centers, coffee shops, and everything else you would find in any other city”. Within this community, attendees are able to become the creators, instead of being restricted as part of an audience body searching for entertainment. Black Rock City, the outcome, is a co-creation that allows for people to “have their own best version of the best time ever, whatever that may mean”. By manifesting this infectious joy, people can become inspired by what they are capable of contributing. “With the exception of ice and coffee, there is no money changing hands and nothing for sale”, Cirivello adds, “it is amazing how the quality of interpersonal interactions are changed when individuals are valued not for what they own, but for what they do and how they contribute. People show up more fully, they express gratitude more completely, and they often times find qualities within themselves they didn’t even know they had to offer”.

The boredom, detachment and resentment that Cirivello had felt towards the conventional separation between producers and consumers of an event, as well as the unfortunate commercialization of potentially transformative experiences, was ultimately what led him to take on his current project. “We design a context, not curate the content”, he states, “I learned that the organization is using a very different model”. He admits that Burning Man pushes him to make values-based decisions, a challenge that requires rigorous thought placed towards cultural implications during the process. “As an organization we often have to be a neutral party – not defining the right way to do something or declaring what Burning Man should be”, he highlights, “it makes things more complex, but therein lies the magic of people finding their own way to do things and discovering a meaning that really moves them”. He believes that the empowerment derived from the process can be both memorable and transformational.

Cirivello places emphasis on the philosophical components behind the curation of a successful community and experience, rather than the operational: “Burning Man isn’t really trying to be a successful event – it is focused on being an inclusive and empowering community”. He stresses that it should not be defined by a particular location, but “by a set of shared values that is the common thread in any of these experiences”. He hopes that attendees can take away the fact that they are not the audience, as well as the sense of empowerment as part of either The Black City, their hometown, or as a member of the Burning Man community. Cirivello hopes for a thriving kickstart in their newest project – a 3,800 acre parcel of land in Northern Nevada: “for decades people have wondered what could be done with a year-round location and now we have the exciting opportunity to find out”.


Burning Man
28th August – 5th September, 2016
Black Rock Desert, Nevada