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 from April 2012 through March 2013 to help 25 different people attend cons 28 times (three people received assistance twice). People attended thirteen different cons. For only the April-June 2012 quarter was Con or Bust unable to fulfill all requests received (seven requests, including five first-time con-goers, were granted out of 15 requests). The monetary portion of Con or Bust’s assistance ranged from $0 (membership transfers only) to $1,000. Twelve awards were in the range of approximately $200-350, and seven were from $400-550. At the end of this period, Con or Bust carried forward a balance of approximately $360.
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.
From April 2013 through March 2014, Con or Bust helped 30 different people attend cons 32 times (two people received assistance twice). People attended seventeen different cons. The monetary portion of Con or Bust’s awards again ranged from $0 (membership transfers only) to $1,000. Eleven awards were in the range of $200-450, and seven were from $500-700. At the end of this period, Con or Bust carried forward a balance of approximately $7,700.
Here’s the quarterly breakdown:
- April-June 2013: seven people, including two first-time con-goers, to attend five different cons (out of nine requests).
- July-September 2013: eight people, six of them first-time con-goers, to attend three different cons (out of twelve requests).
- October-December 2013: four people to attend four different cons (everyone who requested assistance).
- January-March 2014: 13 people, including two first-time con-goers, to attend five different cons (everyone who requested assistance).
The 2014 auction and associated matching challenge raised $16,476. These funds, together with the balance from the prior year, funded assistance for April 2014 through March 2015. In addition, starting from April 2014, Con or Bust permitted people to request monetary assistance for any upcoming SFF con, not merely cons in the next quarter.
- April-June 2014: 17 people, including four first-time con-goers, to attend six different cons (out of 28 requests).
- July-September 2014: 11 people, including two first-time con-goers, to attend three different cons (out of 16 requests).
In addition, starting in 2014 and through June 17, 2014, Con or Bust awarded five donated memberships that did not come with requests for monetary assistance.
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.)
Last updated June 17, 2014.