[The Glasgow 2024 team had their initial team meetings and social gatherings in Glasgow this past weekend, and James Bacon has sent us a thorough write-up.]
By James Bacon: It was lovely to be back in Glasgow, amongst fans, looking at the Scottish Exhibition Campus (formerly the SECC) and being welcomed and to the city which held two Worldcons previously.
It is such a wonderful city and I was impressed to find that there are now tours of Glasgow Central Station going underground, overground and so forth in proper hard hats (glasgowcentraltours.co.uk). I paused to look around the Central Hotel which has changed so much since the Moscow 2017 bid with their incredible amount of vodkas tempting fans to support their efforts in 1995. The view from the bar in the hotel which has hosted Eastercons, Albacon of course, and those parties in 1995 looking out over the busy station is lovely.
I made my way to the new Forbidden Planet, in its new premises on Sauchiehall St, it is very large, and I was stunned by how many new comics they stocked. It was a vast amount. The shop is spread over two floors, and I was pleasantly engaged by some staff, which was helpful. Also on my list to get to were Thistle Books, Caledonia Books, the Voltaire & Rousseau Bookshop and City Comics. All four not far north from the area of the SEC.
The walk from the city to the SEC has changed, The Anderston ‘bridge to nowhere’ Footbridge which I spent a lot of time contemplating in 1995, in its unexpected glory leading to the sky, and of course the Iain Banks Espedair Street reference. The area around the SEC has developed mightily also, The Radison Red hotel, now one of six hotels in the immediate area (and two more are being built.) has a fabulous interior. All of the 174 rooms and public spaces have wallpaper designed by legendary Glasgow comic artist Frank Quitely, depicting scenes in a beautiful style.
Esther MacCallum-Stewart had announced at Novacon in 2015 that a team were investigating Worldcon venues in the UK, concurrently with the practical visits and analysis, presentations at Eastercon Smofcons and Novacons, fans were asked — Where would they like to go? — and Glasgow was overwhelmingly the most popular choice of city. The selection process came to fruition in 2019 when it was announced at Eastercon that the SEC was the venue that the team would look to bid for the 2024 Worldcon. At Dublin 2019 Lewis Hou and the Science Ceilidh (https://www.scienceceilidh.com/) had stolen the show, and it was a bold move to bring over the band from Scotland, which along with their parties and continual table work, saw over 600 people pre-supporting the Glasgow 2024 bid.
It was nice to walk into the SEC, to contemplate the venue. Mike, it’s a fecking lifetime ago since I was an Area Head here in Glasgow, at a Worldcon, but it is a great venue and it feels so nice to be here. The SEC welcomed the bid and hosted these meetings. Signage throughout the venue was adorned with the 2024 Logo and Space Field, both by Sara Felix.
We were joined by Jennifer Roddie of the SEC and Aileen Crawford of the Glasgow Convention Bureau. Aileen has worked with us on the previous Worldcons at Glasgow and as there have been several changes to the venue since it was last used it was a good opportunity for everyone to see it for the first time or with fresh eyes.
The tour was lovely but there have been many changes, technology is now much more prevalent, the area on the mezzanine has been developed into a meeting academy, with what was a restaurant now a very nice 400-seater room and soft furnishings in the common area. Space is of course a fair question. Worldcons are popular. London, Helsinki, and Dublin have demonstrated that there is more interest from fans.
It is too early to make assumptions of what exactly space will be used for, but what is interesting is that Mark Meenan had already spent considerable time on the matter, thinking about new programme space, and shared the concept of having a 1,500-seater Second Stage in Hall 2, a 400-seater programme space in Hall 1 and the addition of M1 with its 400 seats and taking ideas that worked well, such as the giant Gaming Marquee that held the successful gaming at Loncon 3. With eight hotels now in the immediate vicinity, there are also so many more options on smaller workshop type spaces, and of course the Armadillo, which has had a refresh since I was last in it, will be used the full five days. I admit I found all this very exciting… and we even found a throne for Esther.
The vision for the convention was then worked through, teams using word association and short tasks to come up with ideas and thoughts, which were presented back. Marguerite Smith did a very good job of getting everyone thinking and contemplating what they want and hope for and with a quick and energised approach we were soon vectoring in on tangible elements and tasks. Timeline, budget, and recruitment were all important items on the agenda for the weekend, and Marguerite took the lead and managed the 20+ people present.
Meg MacDonald and Matt Calvert were announced as the leads for the Bid Promotions team, beautifully choreographed just in time to question the task-based ideas that came from the Promotions Brainstorming sessions, again managed by Marguerite, but here the new leads got to engage directly and explore new ideas and established strategies.
Welcoming new fans was something that was recognised as being very important, and it was not lost on me that in 2013, some seven years ago, Esther walked in to a Loncon 3 staff meeting a new volunteer herself, and was in charge of multiple areas by the time the convention occurred, went on to be a successful Division Head for Dublin and is now Bid Chair. Although Esther did go to Conspiracy in 1987, possibly by accident. Marguerite was part of the Valley Forge NASFiC bid, and in early 2016 joined the Dublin team as a volunteer, was soon promoted to Deputy Division head and then onto DH for promotions. Other fans in the room, who had only volunteered for Dublin were now looking at more senior roles. It was amazing to think that one of the participants in the room, had been a youngster at YAFA* in 2005 and was now making a very important contribution. The doors are open, and fans are coming in. There were also Albacon, Eastercon, Satellite, Worldcon staff and chairs all adding experience as well as those bringing skills from outside fandom to the conversations.
It was good fun there was a dynamism and energy to the weekend that was really nice. Esther has sought out and found fans who are so excited with the prospect of a Glasgow Worldcon and keen to help and it was good to be brought together to chat and catch up.
Both evenings, drinking and chatting took place. The bar was rammed on Saturday, and Bowmore 12 year old proved very popular. A cracking good weekend. I’ll be back up for a comic book swap meet event in March and then Satellite 7 in May. (https://seven.satellitex.org.uk/)
*Young Adult Fun Activities at Interaction the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon.