“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”
– Catherine Aird
As a follow up to my previous post on organizing events, here are some articles about a couple of recent community-run conventions that crashed and burned in spectacular fashion. They’re rather lengthy so find a good chair and maybe a tall glass of juice and some popcorn (or do as I did and read the articles on a tablet while lazing around on the bed).
The first is DashCon, a recently concluded community-organized Tumblr convention. The Daily Dot has a good write-up about the event from an outsider’s perspective.
Here are some other perspectives to give you better idea what happened and how the whole thing turned into a trainwreck:
- A vendor’s experience
- The event from the viewpoint of a husband of a volunteer
- An insider perspective from a committee head who bailed when the red flags became too obvious (read all 3 parts)
Our other example is last year’s Las Pegasus Unicon, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic convention.
Here’s a write-up about this event. It’s basically the same as DashCon; the main difference here was that there were higher profile guests (e.g. Tara Strong) making the trainwreck even worse.
Thanks to this MetaFilter post, I found a list that summarizes how these things happen to community events:
- Some people have an ambitious idea for a fan convention
- They expect a huge success and book beyond their budget
- The con starts and Friday ticket sales won’t cover booking costs
- Organizers scramble to keep the show running
- People speculate that the whole thing is a scam
- Everybody is assured ticket sales will be up for Saturday
- Guests are not paid, pay their own way, or don’t show up
- Attendance is way down on Sunday because everyone’s heard about the trainwreck
- The organizers either skip town or get cornered to pay what they can
The other link in that MetaFilter post also gives a veteran anime convention organizer’s perspective in holding such events.
The take-away here is that if you want to hold your own community event, you have to be realistic with your expectations: start small, be professional at all times, and know that holding events is hard work and not a way to boost your ego/excuse to fly in and rub shoulders with celebrities/earn a lot of money.