The Armadillo Proposals for Inclusive Eurocon - Worldcons
The European SF Society has not evolved as fast as the Eurocons or Europe has over the past one and a half decades. Further we are now in a period when Worldcons appear to be held in Europe at least once a decade and combined with Eurocons. The 2005 Eurocon cum Worldcon (Glasgow) arguably could have done more for media and film fans as well as its Eurocon dimension.
Here are some initial bullet point thoughts on what might perhaps be done to take things forward. They are for the consideration of ESFS and European venued Worldcon conrunners.
If, and it is a big if, a future European-venued Worldcon wishes to be both truly European and (pro-) actively include fans across the spectrum of SF from its written to its visual forms, then we need to recognise where matters are arguably falling down. The Armadillo proposal arises out of some of the aspects of the 2005 joint Worldcon & Eurocon which, though hugely successful in very many ways (indeed was perhaps the best European venued Worldcon to date), stumbled a bit regarding its European, film and media dimensions despite statements from the convention co-chair of their importance and his stated vision for the convention. The proposals were drafted in the fortnight following the 2005 Worldcon following discussion with a number attending the 2005 Worldcon including some of those responsible for these dimensions as well as member of an SF group that primarily focuses on TV science fiction who both attended as well as those who stayed away (not attracted by Interaction's PR. These proposals have no formal standing and should only be simply considered as one Jonathan Cowie flying a kite. It is just a discussion document. The 'Armadillo' because the one of the 2005 Eurocon-Worldcon's conference buildings is armadillo shaped.
In order to ensure that the success of the 2005 Euro-Worldcon is built upon in successor events, the following might be considered by conrunners and/or ESFS (the European SF Society) as appropriate. Namely:
The Worldcon conrunners should consider on the media and film front...
- ensuring that the Programme Committee has a media-sub-committee with senior (hence influential) members of three or four of the most active media SF groups, so that there is a clear media stream of talks and panels in addition to a stream or two of screenings.
- ensuring that films and media programme items are as far as possible listed on the daily schedule grid within the timetable booklet.
- ensuring that summary notes of films are listed with notes of other programme items somewhere in the booklet (including director, title, lead actors, and a paragraph synopsis).
- producing a promotional flier firmly focussed on the TV and cinematic SF aspects of the convention up front for distribution at media SF cons to attract the proportional number of these fans the committee desires.
On the Eurocon front (if the Worldcon is to be joint affair) Euro-Worldcon organisers (Chairs or Co-Chairs) should consider...
- ensuring that there is at least one (if not two) committee member(s) whose sole job is for ESFS liaison and programme committee liaison.
- that the Worldcon Committee generate its own ideas for promoting the European dimension.
For a combined Eurocon-Worldcon to be a more equal partnership ESFS itself needs to move forward. Irrespective of possible Worldcon interactions, ESFS needs to evolve to meet the needs of early 21st century Eurocons. It, ESFS, I respectfully submit should seriously consider:
- being clear about what it wants and can provide.
- rationalising its officer posts, identifying core duties necessary and non-core duties desired for each post with interchangeability options clearly identified. Included here must be the establishment of clear lines of communication.
- the above should include the requisite that any ESFS officer accepting the post should attend at least two out of three Eurocons in their three-year minimum term.
- providing guidance for prospective Eurocon bids (irrespective of whether they are a Worldcon but including Worldcon specific guidance).
- creating ex-officio posts for on-going ESFS jobs that do not require Eurocon attendance or alternatively officer status (such as, for example) newsletter and/or website provision, not to mention chairs of the current and future Eurocons.
- sorting out the issue of national representation at Eurocons.
- recognise those who have given significant (which needs to be defined) past support over many years so as to encourage on-going contributions to ESFS activities. Options here might perhaps include a clearly defined group of Fellows of ESFS (to follow the learned and cultural society model), or Friends of ESFS (a charity model) or Life member (the professional body model).
- finally recognise the group of individuals who over the years have regularly attended many Eurocon and who regularly attend business meetings (but who have not made any contributions between Eurocons). This would foster a sense of community and involvement. These might be ordinary members of ESFS? Both this and the Fellow or Friends idea need not cost anything but an officer's time in maintaining a database and passing this on to the webmaster. Now that we are in the 21st century this can all be done electronically. Any member not attending a Eurocon in a three or four year period might lapse their membership so as to prevent this list from growing rampantly.
If the above seems to officious for ESFS, then consider it this way. Having members and member grades are actually a central hallmark of a proper society. Arguably ESFS needs to leave its embryonic days behind so as to provide a sound framework for European SF events.
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