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How did Firefly come to a $170 average ticket contribution?

Our budget estimates for 2024 suggest that Firefly will break even if the average participant pays $170 for a ticket. Here’s how we estimated that:


In 2023 Firefly cost about $199,000:

  • $92,000 (46%) on rent, transportation, land improvements, porta-potties, and other infrastructure, including unexpected weather-related expenses.
  • $49,000 (24%) on art, art grants, and art transportation.
  • $30,000 (15%) on medical, security, legal, accounting, insurance, and other organization-wide expenses.
  • $28,000 (14%) on volunteer cores to make Firefly run during the event.

In 2024, we estimate that Firefly will cost $220-230k to run. Art Grants are up 10-12% ($5-6k), medical about $10k, and budgeted road improvements by about $10k. We’re amortizing $30k of land repair from last year over 5 years, along with some capital improvements (boardwalks, traction mats) to handle future weather better.


Firefly’s revenue comes from the sale of tickets along with a small number of donations. $225,000 across 1370 participants = $168 per participant.

For some of you, $170 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 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 Parking Cost Expenditures Surplus (loss)
2013 849 $75 $20 $67k $5,682
2014 835 $85 $20 $75k $30,132
2015 950 $80 $30 $80k $17,017
2016 1,050 $80 $30 $85k $16,064
2017 1,122 $80 $30 $100k $12,042
2018 1,290 $80 $30 $132k $(1,349)
2019 1,298 $102 $30 $157k $10,466
2020 0 n/a n/a $23,359 $(23,245)
2022 1,164 $126 $30 $157,510 $6,808
2023 1,364 $121 $30 $199,000 $(4,654)
2024 (est) 1,370 $168 $0 $230,000

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!)

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