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Yunalicia
12-12-2005, 12:46 AM
As some one who is pretty much in the middle of nowhere (Thunder Bay, ON) I was wondering, how do you go about trying to start up a new con? Since my town is pretty much far away from everything (closest larger city in either direction is 8 hours, Winnipeg or Sault Ste. Marie or four hours south to Duluth).

I was just wondering how would even go about starting a con, who do you contact? What kind of stuff do you plan and stuff like that. I know that it will have to be a small con at first but I think we might have a potential for a really great con place here.

Any suggestions?

Chisau
12-12-2005, 01:27 AM
first you need staff and a location and money.

For staff, I suggest you go to a Anime club at your local collage or university. make friends with them, then pitch the idea of a convnetion.

for location, it's either: hotel, school ground, or a community centre. some place where there is a lot of room and rooms for panels and video.

after that you find a source of money to support the whole idea, and if you plan it correct and organize it within your budget, you have a convnetion.

PS, don't forget to advertise.

Amy the Yu
12-12-2005, 02:07 AM
I say before even making the first steps to it, guage what the interest in the area actually is.

I've heard a lot of people from around Thunder Bay complain about having to travel out so far for a con, but there may still not be enough people to make a successful con, especially if not enough people are willing to help out or pitch in some other way (ie. paying to attend)

Anime Dave
12-12-2005, 02:19 AM
first you need staff and a location and money.

For staff, I suggest you go to a Anime club at your local collage or university. make friends with them, then pitch the idea of a convnetion.

for location, it's either: hotel, school ground, or a community centre. some place where there is a lot of room and rooms for panels and video.

after that you find a source of money to support the whole idea, and if you plan it correct and organize it within your budget, you have a convnetion.

PS, don't forget to advertise.


One more thing - start with baby steps! :)

Anime North is a great example of all this when we started up in 1997:

Staff -

Almost all of AN's first organizers were either the organizers or members of UTARPA, the UofT anime club that started up in 1995. In fact, one of our organizers actually started running an anime room at Toronto Trek that summer so that some more of us had actual experiance in how to run a con. (Yes, that's the same anime room that I agreed to run for TT six years ago, and am still going strong. :) )

Location -

For the first two years, we were at The Michiner Institute, the location that UTARPA was at at the time. Aside from the con office and the green room, I think we had all of 10 rooms or so:
-main auditorium
-dealers room (cafeteria in the basement - the following year it moved upstairs to the gym I make mention of.)
-art room (Rear of cafeteria - overflow room actually. We really didn't have an actual artist alley until our third year.)
-2 panel rooms (One being the gym of the attatched student dorm. :eeek: The other was the student lounge of that same dorm - or was that the second year? :confused: )
-2 gaming rooms
-3-4 video rooms

Support -

There were about 20 organizers that first year, and each of us paid the pre-reg (at the time I believe it was $8 for the one-day event) so we had some seed money. Then if I recall correctly, the chair - who also happened to be the president of UTARPA as well at the time - was willing to float the cost of the location on his cc and then be paid back after the con.

Aside from the organizers, we had a pre-reg of about 100, so we planned for 2-300. We had to send one of the organizers out to the local Kinko's at least twice to print up more badges, as we ended up with 700 bodies that day. :mfg:

Advertising -

For flyers, we used the same distribution network (which primarily just consisted of me :bigcry: ) that we used for UTARPA. I think we had a website that first year, thanks to one organizer who was willing to provide us with some space on her server.

And yes, you heard right, we wern't a three-day con until our third year - when we finally had to move to a hotel.:eek:

Eleryth
12-12-2005, 04:23 AM
I know it's not Ontario, but you could contact the people who started Animethon. It's an Edmonton convention, but it's held at a community college since it's on the underside of 5000people (but it's been growing quickly). It started out rather small, though.

You can probably get more help from them at the Anime Alberta forums.

www.anime-alberta.org

Talking to the organizers of either GCAF or NAF would give you some insight since one of those is brand new and rather small compared to AN. Heck, talking to ANY organizer will give you some insight. ^^

bar1scorpio
12-12-2005, 05:23 AM
And don't forget your "old gaurd" types. A sci fi con near you been running for 30 odd years? Talk to their staff, if not direct assistance, you can at least get some good advice. You can also start out in baby steps by supplying your help as volunteer/staff to a con. Alot of general mish-mashed conventions are always looking for new programming, and there's nothing like getting in a little time at the batting cages to build a rep and learn how to run things from others.

Midwest FurFest http://www.furfest.org actually started out as the furry programming track for DuckCon, a general sci-fi con. A few years later, so many furs were attending DuckCon for their programming track, they seperated into their own convention. (Then DuckCon itself tanked, kinda....)

But yeah, alot of Sci-Fi cons will at least run an anime viewing room, a fwe panels & such, and that's one fo the best ways to get to know how much of a local pool you have going for attendees.

Kohana
12-12-2005, 09:43 AM
if it does get started up.... advertise like mad!!....people wont come to events if they dont know about them....

TribalButterfly
12-12-2005, 05:15 PM
I wish I could start a con :p Good luck to ya!

Yunalicia
12-12-2005, 06:10 PM
OMG Anime dave thanks that really helps! Big hugs for you! lol! I'm gonna look and see if we have any anime clubs here, I'm pretty sure we don't which sucks. I know our uni used to have one but I'm not sure of it does anymore.

I was trying to think of things to try and bring poeple of all ages into a con and here's what I can up with so far:

Yu-Gi-Oh (or possibly) Pokémon card tournament, these were ridiculously huge to the piont were Yu-Gi-Oh cards were pretty much band before they came to schools. Thought it might attract a bit of a younger audience.

Something to do with cosplay. I'm not too sure how many people actually cosplay around here besides me and my friend. I think I have found 3 other poeple but two of them have moved outta town.

As for dealers, I only know of one place in town that sells anime and manga besides places like Chapters. I think he would definately be interested since he is pretty much the sole supplier of anime, (excluding blockbuster which most of the anime they sell you can see on TV).

I was thinking something to do with DDR. Like metal pads on a big screen projector. I know A LOT of people like DDR and more and more are finding out about it all the time.

Anything else? I am hoping to finally attend AN this year (fourth try a charm? lol) so maybe I'll get some ideas there as well.

Oh and what time would be good for a Con?
I was originally thinking March Break but then it might be too cold and put off people who didn't have a car for cosplay.
Next was May Long but obviously that's when AN and people go camping.
End of June? I'm not sure, when do most Cons Happen?

Otaking97
12-12-2005, 07:40 PM
I would certainly try and get a notice out. EVERYWHERE about a con that you wish to start and see how many people are interested. I ran a SMALL one about 5 years back and had.......1.....person come. It's very sad yes. I did not expect more than 50 however so I was ready for a small 'con'. It was more like an anime showing however. 2 video rooms and a panel/gathering area. That was all. I rented a few rooms in the new local library since it was very cheap. I live in a small area and did not do my research or advertise properly so I failed. However it did not cost much and was a learning experience. So try and have people talking about it and put the notice out really early. Try and have at least 50 people pre-reg beforehand. Because if not one person pre-reg's you may be in trouble. Contacting local anime clubs is a very good idea. After my disaster I went to run my college anime club and knew things would of been better after that but oh well.

As for a time? The summer is always best. No school and warm weather. However you don't want to compete with A.North or CNA so try and work it between them or something. Either way good luck.

Kia
12-12-2005, 08:36 PM
Oh and what time would be good for a Con?
I was originally thinking March Break but then it might be too cold and put off people who didn't have a car for cosplay.
Next was May Long but obviously that's when AN and people go camping.
End of June? I'm not sure, when do most Cons Happen?
It would be a good idea to do some research into other conventions in the GTA, just to figure out when they usually take place. This year alone we have:

March TAC - March 11-12
Ad Astra 25 - March 31-April 2
Anime North - May 26-28
Toronto Trek 20 - July 7-9
GCAF - July 14-16
NAF - July 22
CN Anime - September 1-3
(and probably a December TAC as well)

Yes, not all of them are anime conventions, but it still means that there's an event going on that is either A) A good place to advertise YOUR convention, or B) Going to have people attending that might have been interested in your convention, but had already decided to go to this one and just couldn't physically attend both at the same time. ^_^

Best bet it to try and find an opening in that schedule where it looks like there isn't a lot else going on, and in the summer that can be kind of tricky. Also, just because a different convention is during a certain weekend this year doesn't mean it will be the same one the next year, that's where being in contact with other con execs would be quite useful. ^_^

Yunalicia
12-12-2005, 09:03 PM
I do understand that there are a lot Cons going on all summer but please remember that Thunder Bay is at least 18 hours away from Toronto so I don't think that there is much competition there. Not unless we got huge, which may never happen but I'm not worried about that right now.

So from what I can tell the biggest conventions happen just at the beginging or end of school. I'm thinking maybe go for just after Uni and college exams get out of before?

Kia
12-12-2005, 09:14 PM
I do understand that there are a lot Cons going on all summer but please remember that Thunder Bay is at least 18 hours away from Toronto so I don't think that there is much competition there. Not unless we got huge, which may never happen but I'm not worried about that right now.

So from what I can tell the biggest conventions happen just at the beginging or end of school. I'm thinking maybe go for just after Uni and college exams get out of before?
Oh, I understand that (though I honestly didn't realise how far away it is, sorry!). But if anything, knowing when other conventions are taking place is a good way to start advertising for your con. Most of the cons around here seem quite open to helping one another in some sense. Sorry I wasn't that helpful.

Yunalicia
12-12-2005, 10:37 PM
Sorry I wasn't that helpful.


Oh quite the opposite thank you for posting those cons. I just thought I should piont out how far away Thunder Bay is just so everyone knows

Vicky
12-13-2005, 11:22 AM
and don't expect much people to go, either.

Yuna-X2
12-13-2005, 07:25 PM
With Thunder Bay, I would suggest advertizing outside of the city. Most up there won't travel 18 hours to Toronto, but a 3-4 hour drive is nothing. (I used to live in Marathon, we all take the 3 hour drive just to go to Walmart) So be sure to find ways of advertizing in the other towns (Terrace Bay, Marathon, Nipigon, Dryden, Fort Frances, etc etc) because I know there are lots of anime fans up there that do travel, they're just scattered around a HUGE area of land.

Yunalicia
12-13-2005, 07:30 PM
and don't expect much people to go, either.

Yeah I don't, I just wanna make sure that if I get one started we have a very stable foundation to start and possibly grow on.

With Thunder Bay, I would suggest advertizing outside of the city. Most up there won't travel 18 hours to Toronto, but a 3-4 hour drive is nothing. (I used to live in Marathon, we all take the 3 hour drive just to go to Walmart) So be sure to find ways of advertizing in the other towns (Terrace Bay, Marathon, Nipigon, Dryden, Fort Frances, etc etc) because I know there are lots of anime fans up there that do travel, they're just scattered around a HUGE area of land.

yeah I figured that would be one thing that would help in attendance, and in making it bigger.

But what would be a good main attraction?

What kinda of events go on at Cons that are really popular, like specifics aspects of cosplay and other events that relate to anime.

Jo_Canadian
12-13-2005, 11:31 PM
gaming and panels are always a big crowd pleaser, holding a small masqerade or a dance is a good thing as well. i dunno what else i could tell you but....for damned sure i would drive up there for it

Yunalicia
12-14-2005, 08:09 AM
These are som tentative ideas I have right now:

Obviously something cosplay related, I am not sure how big cosplay is here in Thunder Bay or even if a lot of people even know what it is. Definately would advertise that you can and should dress up but I'm not sure about competitive stuff. Any ideas how to fix this?

Card Tournament - At first I pitched Yu-Gi-Oh but then was told the Magic The Gathering might be a better idea.

I read on the AN site that there is a mini araced they set up for people to play against eachother on handhelds and this so far has gotten great response.

Some sort of Anime game, like jeopardy, name that anime or something along those lines

I was hoping to aquire one of the two DDR machines that we have in this city (I swear we really only have two) just because it is a part of JP culture. If not I was gonna hook up two metal pads to a projector and let people have fun on home versions

I'm still looking into more ideas but what other things drag people into con and makes them go 'I HAVE to go to this!" lol

TamaraMacDonald
12-14-2005, 09:02 AM
Volunteer at a con FIRST before anything else.:) Do your research. I could write a book on organizing events- cons or otherwise. Look at what works at other events and what didnt and why it didnt. Learn from other people's mistakes and successes.

No one should consider starting up a con until they have volunteered (at any level and any type) or worked at a similar event before hand. I had 10 years of medical conferences under my belt and then i visited anime cons to talk to people to see what were the similarities and what were the differences.

Different people use different models. Look at events within Canada and outside of Canada.

Join a mailing list of con organizers- anime-con mailing list. And listen.:)

But one thing- do not try to exactly duplicate another event- or take stuff of of their site. You will piss people off.:) ALWAYS ask first if there is something you want to use- since information is a commodity and it is copyrighted. Dont expect just because you are setting up an event that people will give out guest information on "just because". Reason is- that information was collected via tons of hours of work and research. Would you give away stuff you worked on to anybody??:)

Relationships are VERY VERY important- build positive relationships with other organizers, attendees, companies, guests etc.

And do not expect companies to flock to your first year event. Money is tight and there are many events to sponsor. If you think it is hard for an established con like Anime North to get certain sponsors, what do you think a first year, not yet established event will get? Do not expect the same sort of success immediately as other events as well.

Offer the community something unique. Have similar components but find something that will make YOUR event stand out. This is what i tell everyone who wants to start up a con and asks about the secret of......

I keep on saying- we need a manga con in Canada.:) THAT would be something unique. Just like Komiket in Japan.....

Hope this helps and good luck!
Tamara
Liaison Director
Anime North

Yunalicia
12-14-2005, 07:11 PM
But one thing- do not try to exactly duplicate another event- or take stuff of of their site. You will piss people off.:) ALWAYS ask first if there is something you want to use- since information is a commodity and it is copyrighted. Dont expect just because you are setting up an event that people will give out guest information on "just because". Reason is- that information was collected via tons of hours of work and research. Would you give away stuff you worked on to anybody??:)


I understand this but I can't really duplicate something I have never been to can I? I just posted things I saw as an idea and was wondering how they went, this is my way of collecting information. And as for the question "Would you give away stuff you worked on to just anybody?" it depends on who needed the information and for what purposes. I personally belive that spreading knowledge around and educating on anything is a good idea so I probably would. Now if i had a successful con and someone in my city tried to take all my ideas then that would make me mad cause it would be direct competition, but if someone outside the city and especially over a days drive away asked I would absolutely help them in anyway I could offering all the resources I could.

A manga con sounds cool, but since there aren't very many poeple here it wouldn't go over well. Our population is only about 117,000. That nothing compared to the GTA.

Another obsticle has just come across my path, how old are poeple that generally run cons? I have had someone say that just because I am not "older" it won't work. So how older are people that usually help.

Otaking97
12-14-2005, 07:56 PM
Not sure about age. But be sure to have money. Most younger people don't have a lot of money to put into a con. If you run something very small then you can do it for a couple of hundred bucks. But if you plan to have all kinds of things then be sure to have at least $1000 on hand. It all depends on size of the con. If you have a hundred people show up then you should do fine. If you have 1000 people coming then you better be ready with money/man power and all that other good stuff that sometimes younger people do not think of or don't follow through with. Some of us older and wiser people can be counted on better. Not saying it's true. That's just what experience teaches a lot of people. Something like a sponser or a store to be a dealer really wouldn't want to talk to a 15 year old about contracts, etc. They simply would doubt your knowledge and legal obligations. I would recommend being at least 18 or have some older people backing you.

Sorry if the above sounds mean. It's simply the way it is in life and it does suck.

TamaraMacDonald
12-15-2005, 10:16 AM
Legally- you have to be 18 to sign contracts. Or get a parent/legal adult to sign on your behalf.

Any place that you rent a venue (college or otherwise) or equipment- you need a legal adult to sign and usually $ as a deposit. Rental equipment places will *always* ask for a credit card as part of the deposit.

I have seen successful cons with tons of younger people being involved. I have seen cons with older folks and not turning out to be that great.

You need age for certain legal aspects.

If you are unsure on what to do- volunteer at an event first and find out what is exactly involved. It may look like fun (and it is!) but behind all of that fun is HOURS of hard work and commitment. For the work alot of us did for Anime North, we would easily put in 20-40 hours a week from January, into organizing the con. It really is like a full time job when you have a role of being one of the major organizers. This is why i always strongly suggest to work or volunteer at a few first (big or small) . Alot of people think it is easy and make their own assumptions until reality hits in the face.

If memory serves- this has been discussed at great lengths here and on other message boards. Seek that information out. Look at the pros and cons and do your homework. Research, research, research. Experience in such matters IS important. And if you have limited time to make your own experience- talk to those who do and pick their brain. Again- not to sound Yoda-ish but it is the truth- learn from others successes and failures- it will save you time, money and heartache in the long run.

Tamara
Liaison Director
Anime North

TamaraMacDonald
12-15-2005, 10:29 AM
I understand this but I can't really duplicate something I have never been to can I? I just posted things I saw as an idea and was wondering how they went, this is my way of collecting information. And as for the question "Would you give away stuff you worked on to just anybody?" it depends on who needed the information and for what purposes. I personally belive that spreading knowledge around and educating on anything is a good idea so I probably would. Now if i had a successful con and someone in my city tried to take all my ideas then that would make me mad cause it would be direct competition, but if someone outside the city and especially over a days drive away asked I would absolutely help them in anyway I could offering all the resources I could.

A manga con sounds cool, but since there aren't very many poeple here it wouldn't go over well. Our population is only about 117,000. That nothing compared to the GTA.

Another obsticle has just come across my path, how old are poeple that generally run cons? I have had someone say that just because I am not "older" it won't work. So how older are people that usually help.


All anime cons will have anime themes. There are always generic events- the community understand that BUT to swipe rules, contracts, regulations off of websites or other publications is copyright infringement since others have spent time and money in development. That is why in the community- we have NO PROBLEM IN SHARING, as long as people ASK FIRST.

Again- if you want SPECIFIC details on how to do XYZ- alot of us experienced folks could write tons of books on it. Best way is to VOLUNTEER at the events and find out from the inside out. Network with other organizers (hence the suggestion of the anime con organizer mailing list) but dont expect people to blueprint it out for you.:)

My academic work (PhD level) is on knowledge transfer and exchange. I believe in sharing knowledge (hence the postings) however- i am not going to give away carte blanche information that took work and money to gather. That is intellectual property. And this is how the community works- we help each other out to the best of our ability but there is a fine line where that is drawn. If this was the case in the working world- (profit or non profit- i have worked in both)- then KFC would share its recipe to the world for the common good of mankind. However they dont, but they do share that it is chicken (we hope! ^_^), it is pressure-cooked and there are eleven herbs and spices involved. It may be a cheesy example but the principle is the same.:)

Remember, resources have a cost to make and keep. Information is a precious commodity and an investment. People will gladly help you out but you have to build that relationship and trust first. I know that people would kill to have the contact lists that i do, but i cannot distribute the information based upon the trust and relationship i have with the individual who owns the contact information (confidentiality). I bet that people would love to know how to personally contact Frank Miller, Scott McNeil or Neil Gaiman. Sorry- i cannot provide that information but i can share with you the process of seeking that information. (agents, agents, agents and COUNTLESS phone calls).

Remember this- anything worth having or doing involves work.:) Sad but true.:)

Tamara

Yunalicia
12-17-2005, 11:28 PM
Sweet stuff guys thanks! BTW I'm 19 right now and by the time we get this off the ground i'll probably be about 21 / 22.

yeah i wouldn't expect to get something like personal phone numbers from people but getting mad at someone because one of their events that happens is similar is dumb. But yeah blantantly stealing contracts and stuff is just mean and wrong. I'm more interested in stuff that goes over well right rather than legal stuff. I have to make sure i can come up with an event before I can present to anyone.

So my next questions is how do you go about getting sponsors? I'm not entirely sure who to go to or how to approach them. what information do you collect first to start with? What exactly would you present to possible sponsors?

TamaraMacDonald
12-19-2005, 08:51 AM
Sweet stuff guys thanks! BTW I'm 19 right now and by the time we get this off the ground i'll probably be about 21 / 22.

yeah i wouldn't expect to get something like personal phone numbers from people but getting mad at someone because one of their events that happens is similar is dumb. But yeah blantantly stealing contracts and stuff is just mean and wrong. I'm more interested in stuff that goes over well right rather than legal stuff. I have to make sure i can come up with an event before I can present to anyone.

So my next questions is how do you go about getting sponsors? I'm not entirely sure who to go to or how to approach them. what information do you collect first to start with? What exactly would you present to possible sponsors?

Research research research and phone calls, phone calls, phone calls and phone calls. They will want to know the basics, who ,when, why, how, where etc. You have to have some sort of a plan and have concrete information when you contact people. Remember- this IS a business for them.

Go to other events and meet people- get their business cards. But remember- no one will give you a list with contact information. The list i have took 3 years to create and HOURS of research, phone calls and talking to various people. And it was during the time where i did not ask Anime North to reimburse my phone bill (average in those days- 1000$). I also travelled to the USA, to cons, to companies and to Japan to make connections. You really have to approach this AS a business. And use that language. No sponsor will just come out based on the commodity of "fun"- since they have to justify THEIR expenses to the head of the company/stockholders. Each event a company attends or sponsors has to be financially justified.

Same thing with dealers. How much is it going to cost THEM and what are the chances for them to make their money back. Doing an event IS work for dealers and companies. It is not a vacation for them.:)


And if you are looking for cash for sponsorship- forget it.:) You will get a few DVDs, CDs or other product or marketing stuff from companies that deal with the anime/manga market. They are cash poor. We have a tough enough time with companies/sponsors to buy program book ads for a few hundred dollars- and Anime North is an established event with large numbers (yes- large numbers ARE important to companies- its a fact, just accept it).

Best thing to do to find out all of this information and to answer any questions is to volunteer or work at a similar event. Otherwise- you will have to take a course in Business 101, Marketing 101, Promotions 101, and Event Organizing 101.

You should also be concerned about the legal stuff. That is the foundation of it all. If you are just curious what people would like- just go to cons and observe or create a survey and do research on it. We did that at Anime North and we still do it. Some things we would love to do but do not have the resources to do- yet.

But remember this when you talk to companies- if you just say"hey i am thinking of doing a con- will you come"- based upon such info, the nice reps will say- "sure- just give me a date" and then you will never hear from them again. The not so nice ones will tell you that they do not attend cross border events (again- the legal stuff!) for less than 3000 people.


Again- to repeat over and over- work/volunteer at an event (doesnt have to be anime related) to answer the questions and get some experience. Its how most of us who do this, got involved and know what we know today.

Tamara
Anime North