Why I Work on Worldcon: Guest Post by Sara Felix

By Sara Felix: There was a post a while ago on twitter that asked, “So what motivates y’all to continue entering bids to host Worldcons? Genuinely curious.”

And I responded with, ”I think there are some great bids out there like Glasgow 2024 that you can genuinely tell they are enthusiastic and want to put on a good show.  Working on Dublin was like that for me as well.  I am not saying they are perfect but the excitement is really important.”

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I wanted to say and the twitter format leaves a lot to be desired.  A few people have touched on a part of my answer in different ways but a lot of it boils down to, I volunteer because I want to make a difference and I want to do better.  I like being part of a group of people who are excited to put on a good show. 

And I think I have in my own ways but I always strive to do more.  And there is so much that can be done that hasn’t already.  Or it has been done but then forgotten and never to be picked up again.  FANAC and the work Joe Siclari and Edie Stern and others have done to showcase past events has opened my eyes to some amazing projects over the years at Worldcon and beyond.  And I would like to see some of those rich traditions intertwined with newer ideas added.

I know the question was why do you keep entering bids but I want to talk about why I volunteer for Worldcon and help with bidding. 

What have I done?

For me I think I have left some mark on Worldcon fandom.  With Colin Harris we created the Artist Showcase that has now been a staple at many Worldcons since Chicon 7.  I advocate for it on every con I am involved in.  As an artist and the president of ASFA (The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists) I am a promoter of artists and want to see them recognized and part of the community.  I want to see their work spotlighted as much as I can.  It saddens me that more artists can’t show at Worldcons due to the cost to attend and am always looking for ways to change that.

Sara Felix wearing one of her tiara designs.

For Dublin there was amazing art and artists that were featured.  To spotlight those artists we created  The Art and Artistry of Dublin 2019.  I have created art show panels for artists who can’t afford or don’t want a full panel of art, I provide fan art for conventions when seated or bidding as much as I can.  I want to help in any small way that is possible.

I was part of the Mexicanx Initiative and work to include the other Mexicanx in fan related activities and have supported the other initiatives like this on the Worldcons I have worked on.

I am trying to make my divisions more inclusive in the future so we have more voices present at the table.  There are plans in the beginning stages that hopefully come to fruition on future concoms I am a part of. 

These aren’t huge projects but hopefully they are things that people remember and help them to enjoy the event just a bit more. 

I run the Chesleys every year for ASFA.  Besides all the behind the scenes work I have also called for more diverse voices in the categories since I have been president.   I talk about it on panels at conventions and online and push artists to submit their work every year.  

So that answers the how I am involved, but why?

I love art.  I love science fiction.  I love the friends I have in the community.  I want to put on a good show.  I volunteer to have fun and try and get my friends involved that I enjoy working with. It doesn’t always work out like I plan but overall I am ultimately a perfectionist and want to do something that I am proud of and can talk about positively with my friends and family in and outside of fandom.  

And I know there are others out there like that.  I have worked with them before.  And I will continue to ask them to be on any teams I have in the future.  Or go to them for advice when I need a bit of help. 

I also like to see organizations do better.  I attend SMOFcon to talk to people about how things are run and how we can change current policies or methods and try to use the things I learn to help my teams.  My focus is on art and artists a lot of the time and I am always looking for new and innovative ways to help cons promote art and bring more artists. 

It is not all sunshine and rainbows…. fandom is hard.  There are personalities that I don’t always work well with and opinions that I don’t agree with.    I have worked on some very hard Worldcons in the past and now I know when I need to step away.   I don’t agree with the principle of “that is how we have always done it” and in fact I think there are some positions in Worldcon that would be better filled by a professional.  *cough*social media *cough*  The “this is how we have always done it attitude” is toxic for change and I get there are traditions we want to keep.  I believe that the past traditions are important and there can be change while still honoring them. 

I have learned to set limits for myself on volunteering as it has been made it very apparent that I can’t do everything that is asked of me.  This was a hard lesson to learn.  

A big red flag for me is when the convention doesn’t align with my ideas of what makes a good Worldcon. My biggest problem with working on Worldcons typically come down to bad communication and silo-ing of divisions.   

Let me just say…. I am not perfect.  I work on publications and design.  Have I misspelled names? Yep you betcha.  Have I put out the wrong materials?  Totally.  I make mistakes and so does my team sometimes.  But I try to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.  

My first Worldcon was a phenomenal experience.  The second was not so much and I stopped going after that.   It took me 9 years to be involved again at Worldcon and that was because I was asked to volunteer.  My experiences going to the convention have been improved by the relationships I have with other volunteers over the years.  I am sure most people are aware that going to cons is so much better with friends and I have experienced that with other volunteers when you have worked on something 2+ years.  I know there are people I have worked with on past conventions that I talk to everyday or at least every week. 

Would I be on a bid team for a convention?

Yes definitely! I am now.  I love the people I work with and the enthusiasm they bring to the table and those are best bid teams.  And I hope I provide the same level of enthusiasm for things I work on with them. The best bids pay attention to the good and the bad of the conventions that came before and try to incorporate those learnings into their plans. They look to bring on like-minded staff.  If I was ever going to bid for a Worldcon this is what I want to do as well. (Not bidding to run a Worldcon, thanks :p)   

2 thoughts on “Why I Work on Worldcon: Guest Post by Sara Felix

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Sara! I too love the community of Worldcon (or any con)–the fans, the art of creation, the excitement of meeting creators and their works. It’s five wonderful days of living in a glorious village where I feel right at home. A real-world Brigadoon. Sadly, just like Brigadoon, when we close up shop after the last day, it is so much nostalgia as it vanishes away for another year. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Such beautiful art at Dublin. I’m not an arty person but I love to see it and I love to see people enjoying it even if I don’t have the faintest what it is about. Of course with SFF I usually have some clue…

    And I agree on the rest . When it’s a group of enthusiastic people from a wide variety of experiences working to bring something fun and lively to the world, it’s a great place to be.

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