Recently we were asked why virtual Boskone 58 isn’t free. It’s an important question facing our community.
Boskone is a labor of love. We’re shining a light on the behind-the-scenes work at Boskone to help our community understand, Boskone is different and that’s why we need to charge a small fee for memberships. Though there’s a lot we can do with volunteer time and free labor, there are still costs associated with running Boskone, whether in-person or virtual.
We’re an all volunteer team.
Like many other science fiction and fantasy (SF/F) conventions, Boskone is an all volunteer, fan-run convention. Each Boskone is organized by volunteers dedicated to bringing the science fiction and fantasy community together. Pulling together 3 days of fun and thoughtful programming, spaces for fellow fans and professionals to connect, and creating a memorable convention experience is truly a labor of love. Planning for the convention begins 14 months in advance of the convention when the chair is appointed and begins inviting guests, and it takes dozens of volunteers and thousands of hours to plan and pull off. None of the folks working on the convention get paid.
Even program participants volunteer their time.
From bestselling authors to renowned scientists, artists, and creators in the science fiction, fantasy and horror industry give their time to Boskone, providing program content, and participating in all facets of the convention alongside volunteers, fans, and professionals in our community. With the exception of Guests of Honor expenses for travel, room, and board expenses at our in-person conventions, our program participants do not get paid for their time and services.
We listened to our community’s wish list.
Our team pulled together a list of “wishlist items” and feedback from other online conventions, and our greatest source of inspiration was our summertime online convention reCONvene 2020. We listened to our members’ requests and constructive criticism to identify the things our community most wants in an online experience. This input drove our decision making process when we looked at event platforms and online experiences for Boskone. The platform and features we have chosen resonate strongly with what our community requested, and we believe these choices are a substantial step forward in making Boskone a terrific online experience. We also believe that we will be able to incorporate many of these virtual experiences into our future in-person conventions.
What about venue costs?
There are still venue costs for a virtual convention. For an in-person Boskone, the venue costs are easy to see and are mainly associated with the hotel, but venue costs don’t disappear in a virtual environment. Virtual events still need to be hosted, streamed and recorded, gated but with easy access for members, and designated space for content.
For the safety, inclusion, and enjoyment of all our members, we found it important to not solely rely on free tools to host virtual Boskone 58. In an effort to be fair and transparent, we reduced memberships to only $25 for a 3-day convention. In addition, we’ve posted a list of critical expenses that the $25 membership helps to cover:
- Costs associated with our event management platform that are necessary in a virtual environment, including expanded features such as scheduling, email communications, web-based event experience, virtual dealer/fan tables, art show space, chat/Q&A/polls during and after program items, global chat via type and video, and registration tools.
- Software licenses. Boskone requires an increased number of licenses for staff who need access to the event management platform and design programs.
- Technology and A/V expenses, including Zoom meeting rooms and webinars.
- Closed captioning services.
- Video storage for OnDemand program video playback of recorded programming.
- Email newsletter and communications software.
- Credit card processing fees for memberships.
- Marketing, promotion, and design.
- Awards for Boskone’s annual awards ceremony, which includes the Skylark.
- Guest thank you gifts.
*Any profits generated by virtual Boskone 58 memberships will be applied to future in-person Boskones to defray costs such as American Sign Language expenses, our New Voices Fund, and other critical expenses to modernize and sustain Boskone in the future.
Extending a welcoming hand.
Going virtual provides us with opportunities to include more people in the science fiction and fantasy community. Folks who may not have been able to travel to an in-person Boskone can now join us online. As a convention, we need to be mindful of schedule times, recorded programming, and closed captioning and the costs associated with providing those features — as well as the unknown expenses as we venture into this new space.
We also know that this time has been financially difficult for many folks in the speculative fiction community. Boskone also includes outreach through free and reduced memberships through our New Voices fund or organizations such as Con or Bust.
Boskone is a labor of love.
Boskone is a labor of love for our many, many volunteers and for our program participants, artists, dealers, members, and everyone who contributes. We are so thankful to those who strive to make Boskone a welcoming experience as one of the longest-running fan organized conventions. We look forward to seeing everyone at virtual Boskone 58.