Mayor Ed Lee links up with Burning Man 

The minds behind Burning Man are melding  with the minds behind City Hall as Mayor Ed Lee is helping the organizers of the annual gathering in the Nevada desert launch a new nonprofit today.

Last week, Burning Man tickets sold out for the first time in its 25-year history, causing a mad scramble for tickets with some selling for more than $1,000. Now, the organizers say they are launching a new venture called the Burning Man Project with the mission of extending the ethos of the festival into a larger world.

The change in operation from a private company to a nonprofit organization is a big step for the San Francisco-born festival. Finances for the event will soon be reported on documents to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Burning Man Project plans to build an “urban cultural center” in San Francisco that will provide, among other things, collaborative gathering and gallery spaces, classrooms, and sites for ritual and ceremony, according to the group.

“It’s one thing to put up a sculpture somewhere, which is good, but we’ve never had the opportunity to look at a whole group of neighborhoods like this as a potential for our endeavors,” Burning Man founder Larry Harvey said.

There has even been an effort to get Lee to attend the weeklong festival in the desert, although the mayor has not accepted the invitation. Other city officials do attend Burning Man, however. Supervisor Eric Mar attended last year and plans to do so again this year.

The launch of the nonprofit is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at United Nations Plaza.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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Brent Begin

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