Last month, organizers announced that the 2010 event (July 8-10 in Vancouver) will be their last.
GateWorld has had a great relationship with the men and women who make Gatecon possible. We wondered why the organization is calling it quits. Is it financial? Personal? Are they not getting sufficient support from the studio, now that Creation has had the official license from MGM for several years?
Or is there just no more room in the crowded conventions market for the “little guy?”
Allan Gowen gave us answers. He’s the Staging Coordinator for Gatecon, and one of the original four founders. In our interview he talks about the personal and financial pressures faced by the organization, and the place of the “little guy” in a market dominated by for-profit companies. He also reveals that MGM offered Gatecon an official Stargate license — and why they turned it down.
Here is our conversation in full.
GateWorld: Why is this the last Gatecon convention? The press release extols the virtues of fan-run conventions like Gatecon over professional, commercial events. So what is the reason for ending it after more than a decade?
Allan Gowen: This will be the last Gatecon in terms of “Gatecon as it is currently known.” I would like to think that Gatecon will exist in some shape or form in the future.
There are two main reasons that we are calling last drinks for Gatecon in 2010. The first will come as no surprise, and that is a simple case of a financial decision. The global financial crisis is affecting Gatecon like any other business or company. We started seeing the first stages of it back in 2005, where attendance dropped to an all-time low. Since then we have just managed to scrape through financially, but there were at least two conventions since then that left us in the red, once all the bills were paid.
If a convention doesn’t break even, the deficit is literally made up from the wallets of the organizers. It is getting to the stage where holding a convention is become a personal financial risk for the organizers.I laugh when I hear country leaders saying that the financial crisis is over. Try telling that to all those people who lost their jobs during the financial crisis, and are still out of work. The working class are the heart and soul of Gatecon and every other convention out there, and some people simply can’t afford to buy tickets, let alone the travel and accommodation costs of going to a convention.
Trying to balance the financial side of a fan-run convention is also getting harder, with guest (actors) fees increasing steadily over the years. Our total guest budget way back in 2000 (where we had over 20 guests), would only pay for two headliner guests in 2010. Luckily, in 2010 we have some wonderful, wonderful actors coming along who are truly “doing it for the fans.”
But it is getting harder to find fresh, new actors (new to the convention circuit). A lot are under strict control of their agents, who see conventions as an “easy” income stream rather than a thank you to the fans. But in saying that, there are a select few agents that we work with closely that are fantastic to work with, and totally understand what fan conventions are all about.
The costs of staging a convention have also increased dramatically — like hotel costs and things like AV hire, and food and beverage charges. But to make things fair on people attending the conventions, ticket prices have risen very little in the past 10 years compared to the cost of running a convention. The last thing we would ever do would be raise the ticket prices to a level where we would price ourselves out of the market.
Being a fan convention, we don’t have the luxury of being a big company where one convention can offset another.
NEXT: Gatecon faces leader retirements