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How did Firefly come to a $118 average ticket contribution?

Our budget estimates for 2022 suggest that Firefly will break even if the average participant pays $118 for a ticket. Here’s how we estimated that:


In 2019, Firefly cost $157,000 to run:

  • $73,000 (46%) on rent, transportation, land improvements, porta-potties, and other infrastructure.
  • $45,000 (29%) on art grants and art transportation.
  • $22,000 (14%) on legal, accounting, insurance, and other organization-wide expenses.
  • $17,000 (11%) on volunteer cores to make Firefly run during the event.

In 2022, we estimate that Firefly will cost $160-180,000 to run. Some functions will be pared back but the costs of others (such as fuel, building materials, and insurance) are expected to increase. If actual Firefly expenses significantly exceed our budget estimates, FAC may make an additional call for donations to cover operating expenses in 2022. 

2022 estimated budget

Number of participants

In 2018 and 2019, Firefly had a maximum of 1,300 ticketed participants. We’re targeting 1,200 tickets this year, a modest decrease in size; we’ve obtained new and more convenient parking, but a lot of people have moved on during the two years Firefly didn’t happen, and we’re looking forward to seeing that Firefly still runs smoothly before taking on a larger event.

If the demand for Firefly tickets is larger than previous years, recruiting additional volunteer organizers may allow for an expansion of event size, but we anticipate this would occur in late late May or June.


Firefly’s revenue comes from the sale of tickets and parking passes, along with a small number of donations. We anticipate selling approximately 600 parking passes at $30 per pass, for parking revenue of $18,000. That leaves $160,000 – $18,000 = $142,000 to be covered by ticket sales, divided by 1,200 participants, for an average contribution of $118 per ticket.

For some of you, $118 is more than your finances can handle; for others, it’s remarkably little for an experience as important to you as Firefly.

So does Firefly have financial reserves?

Firefly had some production costs for the cancelled 2020 event–mostly Art Grants–and some small ongoing expenses (accounting, taxes, insurance) for 2020 and 2021. This was a situation we had reserves for! Our remaining reserves are adequate but future unforeseen events could be more difficult to weather financially.

Firefly aims to have reserves sized to cover about one Firefly production cycle. For example, if one year there were an emergency last-minute cancellation of Firefly, we would be able to refund all tickets and still have enough money to prepare and run Firefly the next year. (In other words, most of Firefly’s expenses are incurred before the event, and ticket sales pay the organization back for those costs).

What’s the historical context of Firefly’s finances?

Event Year Event Size Ticket Price Expenditures Surplus (loss)
2013 849 $75 $67k $5682
2014 835 $85 $75k $30,132
2015 950 $80 $80k $17,017
2016 1,050 $80 $85k $16,064
2017 1,122 $80 $100k $12,042
2018 1,290 $80 $132k $(1,349)
2019 1,298 $102 $157k $10,466
2020 0 n/a $23,359 $(23,245)

While Firefly’s budgeting goal is to approximately break even, event growth has meant a need for growth in our reserves.  (And varying expenses, especially weather-dependent land and road maintenance, make this a challenge!) 2015 through 2017 were budgeted to break even for unchanging event size, but ~10% yearly growth in participation resulted in a surplus, covering the need for greater reserves.

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