Con or Bust helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions (how to request assistance; upcoming cons). It is administered by Kate Nepveu under the umbrella of the Carl Brandon Society, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the production of and audience for speculative fiction. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited by geography, type of con-goer, or con; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves.
Con or Bust began as a response to RaceFail ’09, when people of color expressed the desire to help each other attend WisCon (a prominent feminist SFF convention). We ran an auction and took donations, and through the generosity, hard work, and good will of a lot of people, raised enough money to help nine fans of color attend WisCon (2009 final report). Subsequently, the Carl Brandon Society agreed to take over the financial management of Con or Bust, allowing it to become an ongoing project.
In 2010, we raised $6,183.89 and helped thirteen people attend WisCon. In early 2011, we raised $9,338.95 and helped sixteen people attend WisCon.
After the 2011 auction, Con or Bust expanded to help people attend the SFF cons of their own choice. From July 2011 through the first quarter of 2012, we helped nine people attend various cons.
During the 2012 calendar year, Con or Bust raised $11,660.33. These funds, together with memberships and/or accommodations donated by cons, were used during the twelve month period from April 2012 through March 2013 to help 25 different people attend cons 28 times (three people received assistance twice). The monetary portion of Con or Bust’s assistance ranged from $0 (people who obtained all their assistance in the form of donations from cons and thus required no cash outlay) to $1,000. Twelve awards were in the range of approximately $200-350, and seven were from $400-550.
Here is the breakdown of requests by quarter:
- April-June 2012: seven people (out of fifteen who requested assistance), including five first-time con-goers, to attend one con.
- July-September 2012: five people (everyone who requested assistance), including two first-time con-goers, to attend three different cons.
- October-December 2012: seven people (everyone who requested assistance), to attend three different cons.
- January-March 2013: nine people (everyone who requested assistance), including one first-time con-goer, to attend six different cons.
At the start of 2013, Con or Bust moved to its present home here at con-or-bust.org. The 2013 auction raised about $10,000. Then, in June 2013, thanks to an impromptu matching donations drive, another $3,600 was received.
Here’s how that money has been used for 2013-2014:
- April-June 2013: seven people (out of nine who requested assistance), including two first-time con-goers, to attend five different cons.
- July-September 2013: eight people (out of twelve who requested assistance), six of them first-time con-goers, to attend three different cons.
Con or Bust’s logo is a dinocorn, designed and donated by an anonymous artist. In 2009, some fans of color sarcastically adopted the label to refer to their supposedly-mythological existence. Also, dinocorns are awesome. (And on purchasable T-shirts.)