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UnderCONstruction is a mini metacon - a convention about convention running. We're starting as part of Swancon 2011, and we'll move around Australia over coming years. We're going to talk about all the stuff that goes into running a successful Australian SF convention, for future, current and past con runners. We want to share what we do well and learn what not to do from those who have done it before. And then of course, write it down so that it doesn't get forgotten.

Program 2011

Hespa Mann, Emilly McLeay and Rohan Wallace organised sessions as part of Swancon 2011.


What to programme, what not to programme, how to programme, how to run the programme at the con


How do you get members? How do potential members know about the convention?

Knowledge retention

How do we keep our knowledge without the same people doing the same things each con and without reinventing the wheel each time?

Budgeting and wrap up

What does a con cost to run, what to charge members, how do you pay for it all, what are the costs?

What should we cover during the next UnderCONstruction, when and where will it be?

Program 2012

As part of Continuum 8, UnderCONstruction ran two sessions and provoked a mailing list to continue the discussion.

Building Community

Fandom is a community, but we can't just say that and make it happen. How do we get new people interested and, more importantly, comfortable in the convention scene? And how do we actually build a community that comes back next year?


Has anyone seen a convention have too much money? TELL US HOW THEY DID IT

(notes taken by Emilly McLeay)

A convention will have four main sources of income:

  • memberships
  • grants
  • sponsorship
  • fundraising events

Logistics: Don't lump fundraising in with treasury. The job is big enough that a separate "marketing/sponsorship" person will be needed. WASFF has a professional relationships subcommittee, too, who keeps track of what applications were successful, and who works at each likely place.

Grants: when applying for arts funding and other grants:

  • make an appointment to speak to the project officer in charge of giving out the money
  • make sure you're going about it in a way which will help get you the money
  • write a detailed, precise budget that shows a need for the grant money
  • apply for multiple grants, and show each of them in your grant application
if you are unsuccessful in grant applications, you will still run the convention! It just won't be as excellent an event as if you received the grant.
  • make sure to research and apply for the grants in good time. The process can take multiple years.
  • ask the community (specially Grant Watson, who has experience in the area) for assistance with your application.

Go and talk to the tourist commission and the convention bureau - they will know where to apply for grants.

Sponsorship: You may be able to get financial or in-kind sponsorship from various publishers or shops - even corporations like ISPs have been known to offer sponsorship to SF conventions in the past. For example, a sponsorship from Madmen of a screening of an Australian premiere makes it easier to sell the convention to someone who doesn't understand why they might want to spend hundreds of dollars at your event.

Things like sharing guests with other conventions can also save you money, and get you a better relationship with the other convention.

Don't forget that membership is your single biggest source of income. A quiz night might rake in $400 - but that's the same as two members! Promoting the convention is still the best fundraising activity.