To The Moon 2022 AfterBurn Report

Much Nicer PDF Version

To the Moon Overview

 

To The Moon, Tennessee’s Burning Man-sanctioned regional event was held June 23rd to June 26th, 2022, at the new Catoosa Event Center in Allardt, TN. This was the fifth To the Moon event, and the first at our new Catoosa home. Events in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to COVID risks. This year’s To the Moon was actually the first major event ever at this new venue.  We worked closely with the owners since 2020 to prepare the venue for To the Moon.  The 2022 event was planned for 1600 participants, with some flexibility for comp/staff tickets for To  the Moon leadership and the venue’s guests. While there were a few tickets held back from the sale, we consider the event to have sold out.  

 

The “To The Moon” event is operated by TouchBass corp, a not-for-profit corporation based in Knoxville Tennessee. Touchbass is operated by a five member Board of Directors who work  throughout the year to manage the obligations of the company and pursue our corporate mission of education about gifting economies, public art, temporary communal societies, and mutual respect for one another.  To the Moon is the major annual event hosted by Touchbass in pursuit of this mission.

Event Attendance

 

This year was unique from a ticket perspective, since we sold tickets for events in 2020 and 2021 that were cancelled. We offered refunds in those years, but most chose to carry their tickets forward to the 2022 event. We therefore had tickets in multiple categories sold in three separate years for this year’s event. While we kept the original 2020 price of $100 for most tickets, we opened a small number of “art support” tickets starting in 2021 at a higher price to help bolster the art budget and free up some much needed operating funds. We also expanded the pool of free tickets to cover our Board and event leadership, the leads and co-leads of our volunteer teams, as well as the effigy, temple, and DPW teams that did a lot of advance and on-site work to pull the event together.

 
Ticket Breakdown

 

The following chart shows the breakdown of invites sold for the 2022 event. The totals do not
include invites that were refunded/cancelled.

Category                         Invites Sold   Price
2020 Round 1                   382              100
2020 Round 2                   399             100                   Summary:
2020 Theme Camp DGS     142               100                   Total Invites Sold: 1561
2021 Round 3                   141               100                   Total Comp: 98
2021 Child                        27               50                     Venue Guest List 40
2021 Pickle                       11                50                     Total Invites: 1699
2021 Leadership                4                Comp                 Total Attendance: 1438
2021 Art Support              159              150                       (not including venue guests)
2022 Round 4                  238              150
2022 Art Support              17                150
2022 Theme Camp DGS     15                100
2022 Leadership               94              Comp
Last Minute Sale              34               100

Actual attendance was somewhat less than these totals for a number of reasons we are aware of. We required proof of COVID vaccination or a test at the gate, so a few people stayed home due to risk of infection or unhappiness with this policy. A few hopeful attendees contacted us about last minute infections and we arranged to shift their invites to 2023. It’s also likely some people purchased invites in earlier years and simply forgot about them as life changed. Right before the event, many invites were changing hands, so it’s likely some people could not re- home their invites at the last minute once their plans changed. To the Moon had a few invites we retained for contingencies that we put on sale at the last minute, but we removed them from the marketplace to allow the community to more easily sell/re-home their invites as their plans changed.

 

To the Moon 2022 Review
This was a very challenging but rewarding year for To the Moon. The last To the Moon in 2019 was a particularly hard year on leadership and the community, after we experienced an extremely overzealous law enforcement approach at our original home in Sneedville. The decision to move away from Spirit Crossing and the search for new land were both very difficult. Then we struggled emotionally, financially, and interpersonally throughout the subsequent “COVID winter.” Each of the cancelled events in 2020 and 2021 diminished our collective drive. We lost much of our leadership due to life changes, lack of motivation, and disagreements about the direction of the event. We entered 2022 at the brink of failure, with irreconcilable arguments plaguing our senior leadership.

 

However, you should never doubt the resilience and commitment of the burner community. Following the event’s cancellation in 2021, we considered several options to move forward into 2022. The two original founders of To the Moon respected term limits and retired from our Board, but stayed involved in an active capacity to help plan and operate the 2022 event. We found new hardworking and committed burners to reconstitute a functional Board, adopted and trained new event leadership, and continue to work to build a solid foundation for the future of Touchbass and To the Moon. It involved getting a ton of new people involved in the planning and execution of the event and providing them with the tools they needed to make it happen. Even though we were winging it on several fronts, an event held on new land, pieced together from several years of false starts, and held together by new, continuing, and retired leaders working together was created, and it was as smooth and easy as we could have hoped.


New Venue: Catoosa Event Center
We began working with Catoosa Event Center in 2020, just prior to the proliferation of COVID and the cancellation of our 2020 event. The new property is a retired small golf course brimming with the natural beauty of the Cumberland Plateau. The site contains a swimmable lake, several waterfalls, huge cliffs and rock formations, and a lot of wide open area for the burn and for parking. The property was newly acquired by a local family and had never hosted a large festival before To the Moon this year. The landowners purchased the property specifically to make it a campground/event venue. They are very interested in making Catoosa a viable event venue, and they have been a pleasure to work with over the last three years. They have done a tremendous amount of work cleaning various parts of the property and establishing usable access to some of the more remote areas. We expect to have access to even more of the property as it is developed.

 

We began hosting work weekends at the property in 2020 and continued through this year, helping to clear overgrown areas of the property and get it ready for the day we could eventually hold To the Moon again. Touchbass purchased a shipping container and placed it permanently on the property to store our supplies and equipment year-round. One of the most beautiful parts of the property is also one of our greatest identified safety risks: a set of cliffs set back into the woods from the main event areas. Leading up to the 2022 event, we worked with the landowners to help build a series of fences at different parts of the property to keep attendees away from the drop-offs. We also created and communicated strict rules about crossing any of the fence lines, with immediate ejection from the event for anyone violating them. We did not have to eject anyone in 2022 for violation of the fence rule.

 

To the Moon was the first major event held at the new Catoosa Event Center. We worked during our years of down-time to notify elements of the local government and community about the plans to hold the event. Catoosa’s new owners worked at this as well, since they want the new venue to host other festivals in addition to To the Moon. One of our Board members and Tennessee RC moved to the property as a semi-permanent resident, and spent a lot of time meeting with the County Commission, the mayor, and different parts of law enforcement. We tried to describe the event honestly and lay out the precautions we take to minimize the impact on the local community.

 

Sound and nudity were the two complaints we heard from the local community following the event. To the Moon implemented a new sound policy this year and attempted to direct placement of sound camps in such a way as to contain sound locally on and around the Catoosa property. This helped, but it still ended up being loud for some of Catoosa’s immediate neighbors. We will work in 2023 to adjust placement and the sound policy to further reduce our impact. We will also consider precautions around nudity to help ease the concerns of the local community. There were a moderate number of traffic stops for attendees entering the event (mostly on Wednesday for early entry) but the law enforcement response was not unexpected or overly aggressive for the most part. We hope that the general friendliness and respect from our attendees, the low number of citations issued, and the lack of major incidents at the event itself demonstrate the integrity of our community and will help to improve our reputation/relationship with local law enforcement moving forward. The Board and To the Moon event leadership both want to foster this relationship more in the future.

 

Internal Incidents

  • Most conduct incidents from attendees were general drunkenness and unruliness, but nothing devolved into a fight or significant destruction of property that would require ejecting someone from the event and involving law enforcement. All incidents were dealt with effectively by on-site hired Security and the volunteer Rangers teams.

  • We had an incident where a group of young local residents (not attendees) approached the North Gate of the property near the lake one morning. A verbal altercation with some of our staff ensued, but the locals did not enter the event perimeter once they understood they would be trespassing if they entered.

  • We saw a post-event report on social media of one attendee’s art project having been damaged during the event. It is a collection of small fragile components, and it is unclear whether the damage was caused by accident, unsupervised children, or attendees taking pieces for themselves (on purpose or mistaking them for gifts).

  • One of the attendees live-streamed some of the event via a cellphone. Event leadership identified the person and asked him to stop. He was a new attendee and did not realize this was discouraged and against our photo policy (taking people’s picture without their consent), and he stopped immediately.

  • No conduct incidents inside the event that required law enforcement.

  • Our Code of Conduct Committee provides a way to report conduct violations after the event is over (either attributable or anonymous). We will continue to track these and make administrative adjustments as necessary to protect the event and community.

  • The major on-site medical issue was heat exhaustion/dehydration due to the extreme heat during our event. Our on-site medical contractor dealt with a number of these incidents with fluids and oxygen. Other minor injuries (scrapes, cuts, bruises) also occurred, but nothing as severe as a broken bone to our knowledge.

  • One psychiatric incident requiring some on-site counseling from an event lead. The event lead was able to calm the attendee down and resolve the situation.

  • No attendee left to seek off-site medical care to our knowledge.

  • No off-site medical transports (ambulance) were required.

 

External Incidents, Interactions with Local Community, and Media

  • We generated a handful of noise complaints from the local community. A sheriff visited once to let the land-owner know about the noise complaints, but did not actually ask us to turn anything down. This happened late at night, and came at a time when we were already in process of turning the site down to a late-night volume level.

  • Anecdotally, we have received feedback from the community that indicated a heavy law enforcement presence when gates opened at noon on our Early Entry day (Wednesday, June 22). Those involved generally thought they were pulled over without cause, but that the interactions with law enforcement officers were straightforward and sometimes even cordial. The frequency of stops seemed to diminish towards Wednesday evening and was less intense as more people arrived Thursday and Friday.

  • 8 Incident Reports were completed from people pulled over on the way into To the Moon. This does NOT represent all of the people stopped on the way into the event, but provides a small amount of data.

  • One car searched with consent of driver

  • One k9 unit looking for probable cause, no search

  • Incident reports generally claim the drivers were pulled over without cause.

  • Incident reports generally claim the officers were nice and the interaction was cordial.

  • All incident reports came from Wednesday (early entry) except one report from one of our leads who ran out for supplies on Sunday. That person was followed by an officer as they left the property until they came back, but was not pulled over.

  • One article in the Fentress Courier described the neighbors’ complaints about noise and nudity at To the Moon. The article ran on the front page alongside another extolling the virtues of a “No-holds-barred Tennessee Street Fight” elsewhere around the same time.

  • One local resident who attended the event wrote a newspaper article describing his experience at TTM. The article was not critical per se, but just described what a strange time he had. Note that commercial media such as this without the event’s permission is expressly against the TTM policy that each attendee consents to when they sign our liability and conduct waiver. Furthermore the newspaper article featured pictures taken against the To the Moon photo policy.

  • The local fire department graciously accepted an invitation to come on-site during our effigy burn, to observe and if needed help manage the burn-down. They seemed satisfied about the precautions TTM takes with regard to fire safety.

  • Notes from the Fentress County Commission meeting following the event (streamed live and recorded)

    • The commission seemed divided in their opinions of To the Moon. Some members of the Commission seemed to respect the rights of Catoosa to host events on the property, and did not seem bothered about our event. Others were very upset about the event having taken place. None of the Commissioners attended the event or the landowners’ open house held during the Build Weekend just prior to the event.

    • One or two nearby neighbors were upset about the level/type of music throughout the nights.

    • The Commission considered a noise ordinance for the county so law enforcement would have tools to deal with noise complaints. The noise ordinance did not pass at the following Commission meeting.

    • An immediate neighbor with sight-line into the property was upset about seeing a nude male in the event.

    • One of the commissioners was very upset about the possibility of nudity around children, angrily comparing it to pedophilia when addressing a Tennessee RC and former To the Moon Board member. That commissioner was not re-elected in an election following the meeting.

    • To the Moon ran a “Boot Drive” donation collection for the local fire department that helped attend the effigy burn. At the County Commission meeting, the Chief of the fire department likened the donation to an attempt to buy his (or his department’s) loyalty in some way.

 

Review of Leadership Annual Goals
We created a plan near the beginning of 2022 that served as a blueprint for the survival of To the Moon and the Touchbass company. As part of that plan, we formally adopted a few goals for our organization. Going forward, the Board plans to adopt a set of goals each year following the event based on lessons learned and ideas for the following year. In each Afterburn Report, we plan to check back in on our yearly goals and report our progress to the community. The following shows our original goals set forth at the beginning of this year, and our progress on each of them.

Touchbass “Performance” Goals  

Leadership Goals

  • Design and implement a plan for filling gaps in leadership. 

    • Leadership interest survey shared with community 

  • Fill open BOD and ELT positions.  

    • Recruited three new Board members

  • Identify potential leaders who are interested in future BOD/ELT positions (and provisional positions).

    • Shoring up the TTM leadership team was a challenge for 2022. Now that we have a solid group in place, we will look to add a few new mentees for the 2023 season.

Operations

  •  Complete 2021 ABR by the end of 2021. 

    • ABR for cancelled event was late in 2021 but submitted by the end of the year.

  • Negotiate a 2022 contract with Tuckahoe Beach that is favorable to Touchbass in terms of both cost and cancellation policies. 

    • New contract terms for 2022 that clarify many areas and give both parties flexibility to work better together.

  • Execute TTM in 2022 with >$5k left over following the final payout. 

    • Finances were challenging in 2022 due to 2020/2021 cancellations. ELT and teams helped keep spending reasonable this year and put us on track for a solid start for 2023.

  • Apply for 501(c)3 charitable organization status. 

    • We are working to get this done by the end of the year.

Administration

  •  Develop the master budget for 2022.

    • Master event budget was developed and adjusted as we approached TTM2022. Budget was reasonably   accurate, without major cost overruns.

  • Set up a system for tracking spending that works for everyone on the team.

    • Web-based expense and receipt management was rolled out for the 2022 event. Worked well, but we still need to push teams to use it.

  • Update our bylaws and other corporate documents.

    • Bylaws were reviewed and updated. Still need to clarify and vote on a few items (term limits, etc.). Will update corporate charter at end of 2022 when we submit annual report. 

 

 

Touchbass “Soft” Goals  

These goals are more general, and are never truly “achieved.” They are simply themes we want  to strive for throughout the year. These goals were developed to help deal with some of the  issues our leadership dealt with moving into 2022, as well as thoughts on how to best serve the  community.  

 

Balance:  

Develop a team that is balanced in terms of skills, experience, and interests. Structure the  workload so the team is not overworked. Respect work/life balance and be flexible with each  other’s schedules, situations, and lives outside the organization.  

 

We took this to heart as we looked to rebuild the Board early in 2022. We selected candidates  with varying levels and types of experience across the burn community, and work styles that are different but compatible. We also expanded the scope of our active leadership so that  retired Board members and other community members who are not necessarily in the  “traditional” team-based structure could have meaningful roles and decision-making authority.  Spreading the load out definitely helped with work-life balance among the remaining and new  leadership this year.  

 

Teamwork  

Allow volunteers the agency to be creative within their roles and the way they perform their  activities. People like to work on things they enjoy. Minimize micro-management of projects  and accept a range of work products. Decentralize project management to empower more  volunteers.  

 

Leading up to the 2022 season, the Board was very involved in nearly every aspect of event  planning. This was a huge drain on time and resources, but also disempowered the event and  team leads to make decisions in their domains. This year, we tried very hard to give the event  leads much more agency to manage the event planning, as well as the teams. This will always  be a work in progress, but it seemed to move significantly in the right direction this year.  

 

Transparency:  

Be more open with the community and among the leadership. There are very few things we  actually need to be secretive about at all. Get away from NDA’s and the fear of  criticism. Empower the Conduct Committee to operate independently.  

Prior to 2022 the Board and a few other senior leaders in Touchbass had NDA’s that were put in  place to manage some underlying communications issues. In 2022 we scrapped the NDA’s and  decided to work toward a better and more effective public communication strategy. To the  Moon instituted a Code of Conduct Committee (CoCC) in 2021, but it was hampered by a lack of  clear operating policies and too much management from the Board. We have worked in 2022  (and continue to work) on nurturing a functional and independent CoCC that the community  can rely on that is separate from the Touchbass leadership structure. We hope this will help  mitigate conflicts of interest and help achieve the goal of the CoCC as a neutral arbiter of  conduct violations. Finally, we have discussed making our Board meetings public via video chat.  We were too busy with other things leading up to TTM to make this happen, but it is still a goal  for the next year. We would love for anyone curious to see how the sausage is made, both for  transparency and also to expose potential future leaders to the actual roles and responsibilities  of the Board of Directors.  

 

Outreach:  

Work to build the TN and larger regional community outside the TTM event. Improve  connections between TTM with the regional burn network, as well as relevant/important social  and charitable causes.  

 

To the Moon would not be possible without the mutual help we share with volunteers and  leaders who come to the moon but consider other events to be their “home” burns. We are  always looking to get more connected with our regional and national burner network. A  number of our leadership worked for and attended Love Burn this year, where we talked some  of their event leadership into coming up to TTM to mentor our strong but new event leads. We also had three of our senior leadership join a mentorship program at Burning Man, shadowing  some of their senior leadership. Overall our extended leadership family loves to attend and  volunteer at other burns, and we are always looking for ways to strengthen the ties among our  events. We hope to help plan and attend another Southeast Round Table event in 2023 like the  one we hosted in Knoxville a few years ago. We would also like to expand the scope of  Touchbass to include more charitable local community events outside of To the Moon, in  support of our educational mission. 

Touchbass/To the Moon Leadership Team

 

The Touchbass Board of Directors works year-round to manage the obligations, finances, and strategic direction of the company. The Board is involved to some degree in the planning of To the Moon (primarily interactions with the venue, purchasing, vendor engagement, insurance, developing safety precautions, and personnel management). However, the event is primarily operated by the Event Lead Team. During the event, we always have one or more Board members available as a resource to the Event Leads for situations that may require a legal representative of the company (any change to our land-use contract, serious medical or conduct issues that require transporting an attendee offsite, interaction with local law enforcement, etc.).

 

Current Touchbass Board of Directors:
Brad Tomlinson, Chairman            Knoxville, TN
Ashley Abbott (Bones), Secretary   Alcoa, TN
Eisa Nuri (Cosmic Euphoria)          Maryville, TN
Chance Loman (Gryffn)                Gallatin, TN
Julie Reach                                 Christiansburg, VA

 

Eisa, Chance, and Julie joined our Board in March 2022.

Event Team Leadership

The Event Lead Team are the operations managers for To the Moon. They oversee the majority of the event planning and manage the volunteer teams that perform different functions throughout the event. Over the long COVID winter, many of our established event leads stepped down from their positions. We adopted two new event leads with experience in other capacities and at other events. Brian Weiner and a group of experienced event leads from Love Burn also came to help manage To the Moon and to mentor our new event leads this year.
 

Event Leads

Sara (Top Shelf) Vaughan Wright Nashville, TN
Amy (ATL) Porter Nichols Raleigh, NC
Brian Weiner (Wheener) Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 

Moon Mamas

Andrea Kerns (Gem)

Gabi Stewart (Nectar)

 

The two original founders of To the Moon, stepped down from the Board this year as their terms had expired. However, the remaining leadership structure was not large or prepared enough to carry the burden of planning and running the 2022 event. The affectionately-named “Moon Mamas” developed a plan to stay involved with some of the planning and event management, along with other people who were interested in helping out but weren’t in formal leadership roles. Collectively, the group involved in event planning was called the “Cosmic Council.” The Moon Mamas played a huge role this year in helping to guide the planning process. Their collective history and knowledge of how TTM operates was invaluable to our success this year. The Mamas also worked as de facto event leads during TTM to help with any issues that arose. Both Andrea and Gabi are Burning Man regional contacts.

Team Leads

  • ART

    • Hatter

    • Ashley Humphries

    • Naughty Frog

  • Conclave​

    • Alley Hoops​

    • David Vance

  • DPW​

    • Daniel Goodridge​

    • Tess Walker

  • Effigy​

    • Shorty McSmalls​

  • Fire Safety​

    • Phyrebolt

  • Gate​

    • Mandy Kees​

    • Jody Bradley

    • Hannah Fambro

  • Greeters​

    • Corey Anne​

    • Glytch

  • Inventory​

    • Cody Pratt​

    • Bowie Benson

  • Lamplighters​

    • Twaffle​

    • Not Squirrel

    • Kevin Waitkus

  • Leave No Trace​

    • Nicole Makinney​

    • Zoltan

  • Media​

    • Ali Katt​

    • Alyvia Fitts

    • Jive

  • Parking/Traffic​

    • Not Steve​

    • Snack Cake

    • Gramps

    • Kai Chamberlain

  • Perimeter/Burn Down​

    • Checkmate​

    • Miaih Duck

  • Placement​

    • Brad Tomlinson​

    • Anna Kelley

    • Jake Rummel

  • Quartermaster​

    • Quartermistress​

    • Simple

  • Rangers​

    • Runs With Scissors​

    • Burne Richardson

  • Signage

    • Citrus Blossom​

    • Molly Herold

    • Sidhe

  • Survival Guide​

    • Raptor​

    • Piprr

  • T-base​

    • Mouse​

    • Silver Lining

  • Temple​

    • Lunar

    • Jordan Dillon​

  • Volunteer Coordinator/​Info

    • Sheona Villanueva​

    • Julie Reach

“Moon Year” 2022 Financial Overview
The “Moon Year” is our fiscal cycle, which runs from the time immediately after the prior To the Moon until the books are closed following the event. This means it generally runs from about August to August, so that it captures the entire financial cycle for the event.


Income
The 2022 event is somewhat unique since the 2021 event was cancelled, but we had already sold tickets to the 2021 (and 2020) events. We incurred significant losses by cancelling for those two years (approx. $50k total loss), but there was still residual ticket money left over. We also received an additional payout from our ticket vendor in the fall of 2021. In addition to this residual money carried over from prior years, we sold additional invites during 2022. We also had several smaller sources of income (donations and ice sales). The following table shows the
breakdown of our income for this operating year.

Our ticket vendor capped our pre-event payout at $100k total due to uncertain market conditions requiring frequent refunds for cancelled events. This meant the vendor was holding about $75k back until the event was complete. This was a major portion of the funds we needed to run To the Moon this year. A generous community member lent Touchbass $50k in an interest-free loan until the post-event payout so that we could operate. The loan was repaid once the final payment from Eventbrite was issued. We will work to get better payout terms for the 2023 event, or explore other ticket vendors if Eventbrite cannot work with us on this. We have not yet built up a large fund balance that we carry from year to year, so the payout limitation greatly impact our ability to operate effectively.


All income noted is net (after tax, transaction, and vendor fees)

 

Income                                     Amount
Residual from 2020/2021             $18,183
August 2021 Payment                  $25,000
July 2022 Final Payment               $74,920
Ice Sales (net)                             $1,561
Art Fundraising                           $730
Boot Drive (donated to fire dept)  $479
Total                                        $120,873

Overall Expenditures

The income we projected at the beginning of 2022 was enough to operate a safe and fun event, but we knew money would be tight. We created a budget based on the money on-hand at the beginning of 2022 plus the loan described above. We had some flexibility in the art grant budget, and had worked out net-30 payment terms with some of the vendors that could push expenditures for some major items until the final ticket payment came in. We communicated this clearly down the leadership chain through the event leads to the volunteer teams. Since there was a lot of uncertainty/risk at the beginning of the planning cycle, we were very rigid. about sticking to the conservative budget. As we got closer to the event, it became more certain that we would actually be able to hold To the Moon this year.

 

We also pushed our capacity up by 100, and the extra ticket sales helped the overall budget (even though we would not have access to those funds until post-event). This helped us weather unexpected costs, such as a steep increase in insurance cost and the need to replace some of our aging equipment. It also allowed us to expand the art grant budget beyond the original plan (from $10k to nearly $14k), and increase the team budgets.

 

The following figure shows the top-level expenditures for To the Moon 2022:

Category                               Amount Spent
Land Rental                           $18,750
Equipment Rental                   $13,816
IT and Insurance                     $11,206
Event Purchases                     $14,854
Event Contractors                   $13,970
Team Purchases                      $11,034
Art Grants                              $13,812
Effigy and Temple                   $9,800
Work and Build Weekends        $2,183
Transportation                        $1,332
Total                                     $110,757

Volunteer Team Expenditures

The “Team Purchases” category includes expenditures for all of the volunteer teams that make up the backbone of the To the Moon. We started with approximate budgets for each of the teams based loosely on prior years, and expected needs for 2022. Across the teams, there was a lot of variance (both positive and negative) from our original budgets. Some teams needed much more than planned due to aging equipment needing replacement, the increased price of fuel and materials, and new team leads with different ideas of what the team required. However, the overall team budget stayed roughly on track. As we got closer to the event and our financial risk decreased, we loosened some of the spending restrictions so that teams could get some nice-to-have items in addition to the must-have items we originally planned for. The following chart shows the breakdown of the team budgets:

Team                             Amount Spent
DPW                               $2,984
Rangers                           $684
Fire Safety                       $508
Conclave/Burn-down         $300
T-base                             $187
Placement                        $597
Signage                           $790
Art                                  $450
Gate                                $255
Greeters                           $85
Volunteer Coordination      $137
LNT                                 $948
Lamplighters                    $2,000
Survival Guide                  $684
Inventory/Quartermaster   $425
Total                              $11,034

Looking Forward to 2023
Overall, we were successful in managing the budget and financial risk for To the Moon in 2022. We ended up “in the green,” which was a challenge this year. However, there are many things we need to improve on. We need to have at least one BOD member or a dedicated accountant whose main job is to manage the finances of the organization. We had several people sharing this responsibility this year, but we did not have the right systems in place to make it work smoothly. We ended up with expenses tracked in several different places using different methods, and some expenses not tracked at all (other than showing up in our bank statements). For 2023 we need to explore better resources/software for budgeting, tracking expenditures, and managing receipts. We took steps to allow teams to purchase their own supplies and be reimbursed, but we have not yet figured out the best way to allow them to direct their own purchases without going out-of-pocket. Things went more smoothly this year than in prior years, but it is definitely not yet standardized across all of the teams yet.

 

We have also been fortunate up to this year to essentially meet our expected capacity. It seems like there are many more burns and festivals to choose from throughout the year, and many people have to make hard choices on which to attend. Sold-out events are easy to plan for, but we need to deal with the possibility that this may not always happen. We need to examine our budgeting process and look at how to stage expenditures in a more orderly way to keep our financial risk low.

 

We look forward to planning and executing To the Moon in 2023 in a better financial situation than we had this year. The main financial issue we dealt with this year was the considerable loss from the cancelled events in 2020 and 2021. Without those losses, our operating budget in the future will be considerably greater. Moderate growth in the size of the event may also be possible if our volunteer numbers are sufficient to handle it. We hope to use a stronger budget to direct significantly more money towards the needs of volunteer teams, and dramatically
increase the art grant budget for next year.


Finally, we hope to have charitable 501(c)3 status in place for the 2023 planning season. We hope this might open the door for greater donations and grants to Touchbass. We would love to build a better financial foundation for the organization to support To the Moon, as well as
other smaller events and types of outreach to our local communities.

Lessons Learned and Ideas for 2023
 

Goals from BOD Discussions

  • Consult a lawyer on TN nudity laws. Consider a nudity policy, and/or a solution that protects neighbors from seeing it.

  • Refine sound policy (hours, levels) as well as reconsider placement of sound camps in order to lower our impact on the local community.

  • Board members to attend County Commission meetings when the planning cycle begins in 2023.

  • Consider ways to tie volunteer levels to the availability of tickets (DGS tickets for volunteers who completed their shifts, sliding event cap tied to volunteer levels, etc).

  • Develop training for new team leads, based on the roles and responsibilities described from this (and prior) year leads. Many teams requested SOP’s for their teams.

  • Better and more clear communication with team leads, so they are more included in the overall planning process.

  • Move Center Camp to the East side of the burn where there is more traffic.

  • If COVID testing/checks are required for entry in 2023, create a separate team to deal with it. This should not be part of the Gate team responsibilities, since they are busy enough.

  • Move check-in closer to the site entrance, and figure out ample surge parking.

  • Create a separate team to deal with ice sales

  • Both greeters leads and one T-bass lead were not able to attend. Build redundancy into team planning to cover these types of incidents. Create SOP’s and better training on the expectations for each team so new people can step in to lead if necessary.

  • Strengthen greeters team, with an emphasis on acculturation. Some of our incidents this year were just a result of people not knowing any better. Highlight some of the on-line resources past Greeters teams have developed during the ticket purchasing process.

  • Clarify roles and responsibilities between To the Moon and the landowners, and ensure there are multiple clear lines of communication.

  • Bigger art budgets!

  • Add creative signage throughout the entrance process, so people can be entertained a bit while they wait in line.

  • Develop better expense tracking- one central system that everyone can use

  • Develop a better system to track necessary reimbursements for teams.

  • Clean up/streamline IT and communications environments to improve workflow.

  • Improved communication about the Code of Conduct Committee so the entire community is aware and comfortable with the reporting process.

  • Continue to push Consent Culture.

  • Continue to foster/assist the Code of Conduct Committee (CoCC) and highlight the availability of this resource to the community. Make sure incident reporting flows properly through the CoCC instead of through back-channels.

  • Make BOD meetings public.

  • Refine art grant process (art grant application earlier, art fundraiser in the fall, tickets offered as part of art grants, better communication between art, ELT, and placement teams).

  • Refine placement process (digital map done earlier so SG and an artist can work on publishable versions).

  • Set up master calendar for year-round operation and event planning.

  • Create a volunteer support team, commissary, and/or other perks for all volunteers.

  • Make sure team leads have resources to provide swag for their teams.

  • Retain legal counsel

  • Get 501(c)3 status and pursue opportunities for donations, grants, and collaboration

 

Feedback Highlights from Event Leads

  • More portos and carts

  • Create SOP’s for each team to more easily communicate roles and responsibilities

  • More community outreach and donations

  • Review gate hours

 

Feedback Highlights from Team Leads

  • DPW

    • 2 leads and 2 co-leads needed for this team.

  • Conclave

    • Don’t have conclave sign-ups as a volunteer shift

    • Use bracelets that are given out at the required safety meetings

    • Need additional team materials (duvetyne, etc)

    • Swag

  • Placement

    • Need more supplies

    • Map needs to reflect actual site layout (had to be adjusted last minute for conditions on the ground)

  • LNT

    • LNT needs a radio for at least some of the burn

    • LNT needs a golf cart, especially during breakdown

    • More volunteer spots for breakdown

    • Leave printed LNT instructions at VC so a volunteer doesn’t need to sit there all the time to “train” volunteers

    • Draw/define sections/neighborhoods for final MOOP sweep

    • Align with DPW on who is responsible for what part of burn scar cleanup

    • DGS tickets for volunteers

    • More portos/cleaning

  • Volunteer Coordinator/Info

    • Needs a dedicated golf cart to wrangle volunteers

    • Might be good to place VC near gate/greeters to get people to sign up for volunteer shifts as they come in?

    • Eliminate conclave sign-up from volunteer roles

    • Create a DMV team with its own policies separate from VC

    • Add camp location question to sign-ups so VC can locate no-shows

    • Continue to develop system for theme camps to adopt volunteer teams to provide extra staffing/resources (food/water/etc)

    • VC and/or “volunteer exclusive” events/activities/swag

  • Parking

    • Use/plan RV parking better

    • Mark cars with camp location so owners can be located

    • Have all RV’s register with dimensions

    • Make a better “gate” into the parking field (rather than a cement bucket and trash fence)

    • Less volunteers are needed right after effigy/temple. Why do we need parking during exodus?

    • Need better communications/discussion about policy changes leading up to the event.

    • Develop SOP’s

    • Better use of holding areas on the way in

    • Consider digital waivers for gate

    • More Wednesday parking volunteers to deal with early entry

    • Allow people to sign up for “shift lead” positions

    • Continue to provide sufficient infrastructure to parking outpost

  • Signage

    • Place signs earlier (build weekend maybe)

    • Have a leadership/volunteer support team with food/water

    • Swag

    • Golf cart needed when putting out/taking down signs

  • Gate

    • Move gate farther out of the main field

    • Get cars/trucks to hide logos (particularly rental trucks)

  • Greeters

    • Need a better tent

    • Make it a necessary part of entry to stop at Greeters (many people skipped it)

    • Have different types of swag (stickers, etc)

    • Host another CCI meeting

  • Art

    • Hold the art fundraiser(s) starting in the fall

    • Art grant applications earlier (Nov/Dec)

  • Quartermaster

    • More leadership for this team

    • BOD should pick up ice money every day at a set time

Feedback and Lessons Learned from Burning Man Mentorship Program

 

Sara Wright, To the Moon Event Lead
“Participating in the mentorship program at Burning Man this year was one of the greatest experiences I have had the opportunity to take part in. Shadowing Charlie and his associate directors provided an insight into the Borg on communication, structure, and perseverance of maintaining the true essence of the principles of Burning Man. Sitting in on the daily Tier 1 meetings with the BLM and Pershing County Sheriffs gave a lot of knowledge on the composure the Borg maintained through daily conversations. It helped show me that we are not alone in our struggles with local law enforcement, but with continued effort we can learn to work as one, and break down the barriers that exist between To the Moon and local law enforcement. I believe that the mentorship also helped to expand relationships between our regional leads and the leadership within Burning Man. At our core we are all working to create the same platform for participants, and largely in the same way. I hope we continue to work more closely together as we move forward. The regionals truly are the way we spread our culture further into the world, and we have a far greater impact working together. I look forward to taking all of the knowledge and experiences gained back to Tennessee and beyond.”

 

Eisa Nuri, Touchbass Board of Directors
“This year I was selected to participate in the Burning Man Regional Event Lead Mentorship (RELM) program. The program allowed me to shadow a team lead during Burning Man. One of the main things I learned from the program was how much time and resources Burning Man spends on building, developing, and supporting its teams. For To The Moon to grow we need to invest in our people. We need to find great leaders for our teams and give them the resources to create their own culture within those teams.”

 

Touchbass Activities Outside TTM
March 2022: Board selected three new members and developed an on-boarding process that the new members went through.

 

April 2022: Art fundraiser in Knoxville, TN

 

May through June 2022: Work weekends at Catoosa Event Center on projects relevant to TTM

 

July 2022: City council held a meeting to discuss the usual issues with a burn in a new location. RC Andrea was present. BOD did not attend in an effort to let the local community cool off before we start discussing the 2023 event with them.

 

August 2022: Several of our BOD members and event leads attended Burning Man together to collectively learn, participate and get inspired by TTITD. One BOD member and two of our ELT participated in the Burning Man mentorship program.

 

Fall 2022 (date TBD): Leadership retreat to look back on the 2022 event and make plans for 2023.

Wrapping Up 2022
To the Moon is done for 2022, but the work of the Board continues. We have a few remaining activities we are working on for the rest of the year, before we jump into the planning cycle for To the Moon ’23.

  • We are in the process of securing dates for To The Moon 2023. We are targeting June 14-June 17th . These are tentative dates, so don’t take time off work just yet.

  • We plan to submit and publish this Afterburn Report and apply for 2023 sanctioning after Burning Man 2022

  • We are planning a leadership retreat in Fall 2022 to go over this year's event and things that worked/things that didn’t list.

  • We plan to host a Burn Leadership Retreat in the spring of 2023 to include critical safety team training close to Knoxville / Nashville / Chattanooga. TouchBass LLC will host this event at no or minimal cost to participants

  • The goal is to strengthen our critical team volunteer basis which may be intimidating to some by having to attend training onsite.

  • The BOD is managing a major migration of our IT infrastructure to improve our ability to communicate and work together. This includes studying various new vendors and organizing our files and IP.

  • Work on organizing an art fundraiser this calendar year, and start the planning cycle on art grants before the end of the year.

  • While we are a not-for-profit corporation, we do not have charity (501(c)3) status yet. The BOD is working on the application for this and plans to formally apply for it in 2022.

In Conclusion
To the Moon was a challenge this year for many reasons. We had to contend with a new property to manage, internal leadership struggles, financial setbacks, and general uncertainty about the state of the community after the long break. Despite these issues, a large group of dedicated hard workers came together to make To the Moon a huge success this year. This is not to say everything went perfectly, and we have a LONG list of suggestions and action items to make next year’s event better. We believe that this year established a new foundation for To the Moon at our new home with many new leaders and new ideas for the future. On behalf of the Board of Directors, we can’t thank enough the Event Leads, Team Leads, Moon Mamas, volunteers, artists, theme camp contributors, venue staff, temple and effigy teams, fire artists, burn virgins, and everyone else who helped make To the Moon a success this year.

Sincerely,
Touchbass Board of Directors and To the Moon Event Leads