Support Your Local Conventions in 1985

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Open Letter
Title: Support Your Local Conventions in 1985
From: Paul Rowe
Addressed To: UK Star Trek fans
Date(s): November/December 1984
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic:
External Links:
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Support Your Local Conventions in 1985 is an open letter by Paul Rowe.

It was sent to many UK Star Trek fan clubs with the the requirement that it be printed in full and not edited in any way.

Some Topics Discussed

The open letter and the lengthy responses printed in the Empathy Newsletter illustrated some of the stresses and challenges that Star Trek conventions in the UK were facing:

  • fandom and profit
  • a bigger fanbase
  • more fingers in the convention pot
  • power and control among fan groups
  • the rise of the the for-profit cons that were already prevalent in the US
  • fans with different ideas of what constituted a fun and successful convention: celebrities? autographs? video rooms?
  • some lack of understanding regarding the history of UK cons, some fans feeling that history was not being appreciated
  • fear of "outsiders" and the specter of Space-Ex 84
  • can a con be a "small" con and still have celebrity guests

The Letter

Dear Trekkers,

I enclose for your consideration an article that is being sent to all clubs for publication requesting support for the "Official" Star Trek conventions now and in the future.

This is an important matter as the future of Star Trek conventions rests with the fans in the face of increasing interest by commercial concerns.

I thank you for your attention to this matter and if this is published in your newsletter. I would be grateful if you could send me a copy for my records.

Yours faithfully

Paul Rowe

Peace and Long Life.

Due to competition from other conventions it is confused that there actually is a major difference when you attend an "Official" Convention. "Official " Cons of which there are two a year for Star Trek Fans (in 1985 these are SOL III 85 and Enterprise One) are run on a charity basis by fans for fans. These conventions have to be voted for by the fans some 18 months prior to their date to allow time to negotiate for guests which is a long and involved task to say the least. This means that your cut-price room rates have to be agreed long before the bid is put to a convention for consideration. Even then months of work follow arranging, convention book for consideration. Even then months of work follow arranging, convention book, programmed, quizzes, paperwork, printing, transport and lots lots more work such as displays prizes dealers stewards to name a few. Now perhaps you are beginning to, understand the amount of work and time taken in just setting up a minor convention consider that each thing planned may have an attendance of 600 plus attending. (Think of the bar bill too?) Having sorted all this out you still have to deal with the publicity to clubs/magazines as well as the press and media coverage.

If a convention makes a loss it is not the fans nor the committee that suffers but the convention charity which you are trying to raise money with and profits to donate to. Adding the unfair competition from other conventions with commercial backing and the future is very bleak. It must be remembered that the survival of conventions that are "Official" rests firmly in the hands of you the fans and I ask you to support your conventions in 1985 and not let "Official cons" become a thing of the past.

By helping "Official" Conventions you help to keep trek alive in the United Kingdom proving the point that "STAR TREK LIVES."

Peace and long life. Paul

Permission is refused to edit this article in any form or way. c1984

Responses Printed in "Empathy Newsletter"

Carol Keogh:

I am not going to make any comment.... TO HELL WITH IT! YES I AM!

Firstly, it would have been a little more enlightening if Paul had MENTIONED that he is part of the group running ENTERPRISE ONE - one of the two "Official" cons in 1985 that he wants you to support.

Secondly, ONCE AND FOR ALL I AM SICK AND TIRED OF HAVING THE
 CHARGE OF COMMERCIAL BACKING' THROWN AT "UNOFFICIAL"
CONVENTIONS! IF YOU CAN PROVE THAT STATEMENT, THEN DO
 SO IN PRINT. OTHERWISE STOP TELLING LIES TO TRY TO SCARE FANS INTO SUPPORTING YOUR BRAND OF CONVENTIONS! (Sorry, fans, I got a little carried-away.)

Thirdly, just how many cons have you organised, Paul? Just how much do
 you REALLY know about what goes into making a convention? I can tell
 you one thing here and now. I take personal affront at your letter and the implications you make about unofficial conventions. There will be at least ONE fan who DOES NOT go to ENTERPRISE ONE "Official" convention. ME!
Jenny Elson and Terry Elson:

After reading this article, it would appear that you are more than a little paranoid concerning "commercial conventions." As you are a relative newcomer to fandom this is somewhat understandable, but as we have been organising conventions since 1975, and know personally many others who have organised such events over the years, we have learned to ignore such commerciatiim because surely, if such a commercial venture ever takes place, the true Star Trek fan would boycott the event. In any case, should such an event take place, no-one would be able to prevent this from happening because, unlike East European countries, there is still fortunately, freedom of choice, and a thing you may not have heard of called DEMOCRACY. Perhaps you know something we do not, but we have certainly not heard of any such commercial undertakings, apart from the notorious 1984 ISTRA convention which was supposed to the "the convention to end all conventions" but which in fact, never took place. (Star Trek dealers were being charged £1,000 to trade.) Neither are there any such events planned for 1985 or 1986, so could you please quote the source from which your hysteria arises?

Could it be that you are referring to either EmpathicCon or MidCon, which are the only other Star Trek conventions held over a weekend. And I can assure you, as can Carol, another long-standing Star Trek fan of great integrity, that neither of these events are "commercial", since all proceeds are ALWAYS donated to a designated charity. Personally speaking for MIDCON Committee, no-one had received payment other than the barest out-of-pocket expenses. You are certainly at liberty to inspect MIDCON books at any time. We have nothing to hide, and in fact are quite proud, as I am sure the EnpathicCon organisers are, of the amount we have raised for our charities.

We have been told that you are on the Committee of Enterprise 1... a fact you certainly chose to ignore when writing your deflamatory article. Why? Did you think that this would prejudice your remarks? I suggest that you make that known now, so that fans may judge for themselves. However, there are a few points in your article which puzzle us. viz:

a. You state that there is "a major difference when you attend an 
official convention". Kindly explain. (After all, a Star Trek 
convention is a Star Trek convention, run by fans, for fans. Star Trek 
lives in ALL it's many outlets, and not just those the fans have been 
told to support. That is democracy.)

b. "Months of work follow..." Is this not true of ALL conventions? Why 
do you think that this is unique to "Official conventions"? And don't
forget, official or otherwise, it is all, or should be, unpaid labour.

c. "Think of the bar bill too!" I should really love this one explained, 
and no doubt so too would the attendees who have paid their hard
earned registration fees, because the interpretation of these word implies that the convention have an interest? Do conventions
 REALLY pay for bar bills? Ours certainly do not.

d. "If the convention makes a loss it is not the fans or the committee that suffer but the charity." Does this mean that you approach your designated charity to make up the difference. Surely, it is the responsibility of the organising committee. Hence, when one takes on the responsibility of committee duties, one must be prepared to take their EQUAL share of any loss. After all, a committee works as a team. Furthermore, a good committee would ensure that someone with experience of accountancy is a member of the team. And it would be a poor committee that did not budget ahead.

e. "..unfair competition from other conventions with commercial backing." WHAT commercial backing? Where on earth have you got this erroneous idea from? And if any convention IS commercial backed -which none are at present, what exactly is so terrible about that, since all the profits are being donated to charity anyway? Do you deny a charity much needed money merely because commercialism is involved? Surely, that you be outstandingly churlish, and is not reflective of the Star Trek movement.

Yes, Paul. By all means, support the convention of YOUR choice. You, like the rest of us, thank heaven, have the choice. And that freedom is what is going to keep Trekdom alive. Not coercion, and ill feeling. Perhaps 1985 is the year for us ALL to begin afresh, and become more aware of IDIC.
Sylvia Billings: If the committee of any "official" Star Trek convention feel that the heat generated by an "unofficial" convention is so great I think they should stay out of the kitchen. In my opinion no convention committee should even try for a big convention until they have run at least one if not two small one-day cons. Anyone can make mistakes and these can in some ways be prevented from being very large mistakes if the committee has had some experience in smaller cons first.

I realise that all convention committees have to start somewhere, but very seldom does anyone start at the top. The MidCon Committee have many years experience behind them in running conventions - none of which were ever run by "Professional" committees, and as I stated before in this letter, even the MidCon committee began by running a one-day minicon. This may have been many years ago but it was the start of the experience they and everyone else connected with conventions need.

I have been to many conventions over the years, although last year I did only manage one, and an 'unofficial' one at that, and I have quite honestly found little difference in the conventions as a whole, with the exception that I have found some "official" cons boring, mainly because of the excessive use of video rooms. To me, these spoil many cons because many people gather to watch videos almost non-stop and that way lose the atmosphere of the con, which should be to meet friends you haven't seen since the previous con, make new friends, who possibly you've written to and never met, until now. I'll go along with the fact that some people only go along to a con to see the Guest, although quite some time ago it was stated at one 'business meeting" that "guests were unimportant to a good convention." If this is the case, why are "official" convention committees getting so worried because MidCon '85 have a named guest for their convention. If guests don't matter this should make no difference to ENTERPRISE l's convention at all.
Penny Hill:

I have read your letter, Paul, with some dismay. I sincerely hope that you will read what you have written a second time, and give a little more consideration about what you thought you had to say. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you wrote in ignorance rather than with any deliberate attempt to mislead - I'm afraid that while your intentions may have been good your arguments are both 
fallacious and misdirected.

Before I come to your letter specifically, I will make a few general points that you may not be aware of:

1) "Official"' Star Trek cons are not really "official" at all - they are merely the result of a common agreement made several years ago, intended to make life easier for both the fans and the convention organisers, I was at the original business meeting that considered the matter - after much discussion it was decided to adopt the method used by the long-established 5.F. conventions; that of presenting 'bids' to run conventions at specific times of the year. The intentions behind this were severalfold - to avoid the increasing problem of convention clashes, to offer fans the choice of the best deal, and to establish Trek cons at a time of the year that did not clash with the existing S.F. cons. The system was the best of a set of several suggestions. It was never intended to be the ideal solution, a fact which, I believe, time has proved only too well. The point is that the so called "official" cons are only official because they have the ratification of general consent, and not because of any recognition from some unspecified body (be that Gene Roddenberry, Paramount, or any one else...

2) As far as I am aware the only competition to "official" Trek cons comes either from much smaller events, which take place at completely different times of the year, or from the more general media cons which concentrate on other areas of SF and fantasy media, such as Fanderson (the work of Gerry Anderson) or Gaiacticon (which is mostly Battlestar Galactica and Blake's Seven).

If Ihere is direct, Trek based, competition to the "official" cons, it may be because the fans have reason to be dissatisfied with the official offering. Conventions cannot run without membership, and why would people support the competition unless it was offering something they found more attractive than the alternative? The solution to this is not to whimper about the competition but to find out the reasons for their success and take note of it!

Those other media conventions only offer competition in as much as they involve those people who are both fans of Trek and the other shows- If you are a general media fan (as I am) who also happens to enjoy going to cons (as I do) the choice during the year becomes very difficult - finance becomes one of the major reasons behind choosing particular cons, along with knowing which friends will also be going, and where the convention takes place. For those people who are only Trek fans this dilemma probably does not exist - and these people are the backbone of the "official" con system. Media cons are no real threat to Star Trek cons because they attract their own audience; the overlap is probably small, and only noticeable because those 'general' fans also tend to be the people who get involved and do things.

[much snipped]
Kim Knight:

As I read both of the above articles (Paul Rowe's and Jenny & Terry Elson's) I must confess to a growing sense of bafflement and bewilderment. It seems to me that the Elsons are making their own points, rather than actually addressing themselves to Paul's comments; the two articles do not seem to relate to each other very much. More importantly, both articles seem to me to skate around the real point.

Let's start with a little history. Back in 1981, for the first time, three separate Star Trek committees were planning to run a convention. It had long been accepted in fandom that two major cons a year was all that British fandom could support without serious risk of someone going under. Disaster was averted that year because one of the committees graciously gave way and turned their intended Star Trek convention into a much smaller, media affair. But it was clear that we had a problem here. So at the next Star Trek convention, committees and club organisers got together to discuss ways of avoiding a repeat of the situation. It was obvious that this was not a one off problem since the first thing that materialised at that meeting was that two conventions were being planned for within three weeks of each other in 1982.

Previously the system had been that if you wanted to run a convention you contacted the other con organisers and told them when you were planning the event and they worked around you. But that was in the days when convention running remained in the hands of just two or three committees. Fandom has opened up since then. More and more groups are turning their hands to convention running, and I for one think this is terrific. The more
 different groups there are, the more variety and new ideas there will be.
 But is does present a difficulty: if you don't know who is planning a
convention how can you check that your date doesn't conflict with
 someone else's? As Paul Rowe points out a great deal of work is involved before you are ready to 'name the day'; to run around doing 
all that work only to have someone else announce a convention at the same time as yours is disheartening and a waste of everyone's time and effort.
 We discussed some sort of "Register" idea. But who would hold it and
how would it operate. Though it sounded fine in theory the practical details were difficult to work out. It was then that Rog
 Peyton suggested that we adopt the idea of 'bidding' which had worked
 successfully in science fiction circles for a number of years. The 
following day, at a meeting of the entire convention, the difficulties
 we were facing were presented to the audience along with our idea for 
a solution. There was a healthy debate, followed by a vote. There was 
an overwhelming majority in favour of the system of voting for two
 main conventions a year. This was not imposed on Star Trek fans. They chose it for themselves as a rational answer to a serious problem.

The possibility of one day having to contend with commercial conventions (which have ruined Star Trek cons in the USA) was one reason given, but It was never the major reason. There are only about 700 Star Trek fans in this country who can regularly attend ST conventionss and not all of these can afford two a year (which is why the early con tends to be bigger than the late). The number of fans who can afford to attend three a year is very small indeed. Our point was that if there were three or four or more cons a year each one would be very small which would mean that we could not afford to run multiple programmes or have American guests. And if the number of conventions was unknown it would be almost impossible to work out your expected attendance. This would mean that no committee would dare lay on anything too expensive, and it also entailed
the possibility that, through no fault of their own, a committee could go 
bankrupt.

The business system was designed to protect the committee in the short term from excessive competition and the resulting financial insecurities, and the fans themselves in the long run. If a committee were to go broke then the committee probably wouldn't be able to run another con, even if they wanted to. Other committees would think twice about trying to run a con; or they'd keep it as small scale as they could. Who's going to risk inviting one of the actors, with the associated high costs, when they can't count on more than a hundred or so attendees? Unless of course you can get one of the big three. But how often is that likely? We waited 6 years to see Bill Shatner; if De Kelley does come in 1985 we will have waited 11 years; there is still no sign of Leonard Nimoy. Is that what fans want? A choice of a dozen different cons a year, with each no more than a hundred or so people, not much in the way of programme items, may be the odd British guest but certainly no Americans, certainly no actors - and the dim hope that once every fifteen years we might get a glimpse of one of the main actors?

And along the way how many ordinary ST fans go bankrupt and have to sell their houses? (it happened in the States)? Is that the sort of freedom you want? The majority of Star Trek fans obviously did not want this to happen and freely and democratically voted for a system which would protect con committees to some extent and the fans themselves to a greater extent.
For the first time ever it also gave the ordinary fan the right to say "No
, don't want that hotel, or that location, or that type of convention, or
that committee." It gave them the right to question, to put views, to
demand a proper, detailed account of just what a con committee intends
to do. Once upon a time, the con committee told fans where the con
would be, when, and what the content and price would be. The fan
had two options: to go or not to go. If you didn't like it, your only
choice was to stay away and miss a Star Trek convention. Now the boot
Is on the other foot: now the ordinary fan tells the convention
committee whether its plans are acceptable or not. If it is not acceptable to the majority of ordinary fans another convention will go ahead instead.

You'll note that the rules of the system refer to two major conventions a year. It does not refer to mini-cons. It is only when a committee want to run a major convention that they are asked to submit their details for the approval of the fans, and that's because, as stated above, we can't afford more than two so they have to be limited and chosen with care. But anyone who wants to run a mini-con is free to do so when they choose, provided that they exercise the usual courtesy and good sense of not picking a date too close to a major convention. Empathicon falls into this category. There are some fans who do not like 600 or 700 people in one place, who are not interested in the options provided by films and videos, and whose major interests do not centre around the guests. They prefer smaller, quieter affairs where there are fewer people and the emphasis is more on mixing and chatting and doing your own thing rather than a full programme of events. Empathicon caters for these fans well; it has done so for a number of years, and 1 expect it will continue to do so. There is nothing wrong with that; no one is saying that it should not go ahead; it is ridiculous to think that such a convention should have to bid. Until this year, Midcon was in the same position.

I am astounded at the totally unwarranted supposition that Paul Rowe meant that the convention would be expected to foot the committee's personal bar bill. That is not what he said. The point is that we get hotel rooms for ridiculously tow prices (Metropole's single rooms are £50; our price is £17.50); and we get con rooms free. Wa get these kinds of bargains because we tempt the hotel with stories of the phenomenal drinking habits of 600 Star Trek fans, not to mention the money the hotel makes on food, etc. But if the convention is only going to bring in only 200 people the hotel will not give us the 15 rooms free. That means no video rooms, no separate film rooms, no games rooms, no library, etc, etc. If you want multiple programme cons, then we have to limit their number so that we get a reasonable attendance at each one, so that the hotel will give us the free rooms we need to run all the different items you say you want to see. Think of the bar bill!!

I agree that Paul Rowe probably did not phrase his comment about the charity losing out very well. I think what he meant to say is that although the committee lose out personally if the convention makes a loss, the charity loses out if the convention makes a loss or just breaks even by not receiving any funds at all. I hardly think it likely that he meant he would approach a charity cap in hand. I am quite certain he meant that it would not receive any funds, not that he would expect them to bear the loss. The picture of a would-be donator explaining that things went slightly wrong and could he ha/e a handout instead of making the expected donation smacks of the faintly ridiculous - like an old comedy. It seems another astonishing conclusion to jump to.

Nor do I think it was any big secret that Paul was on the committee of Enterprise One. Since his wife is known to be the chairman he was bound to be involved in some way. Now who's being paranoid! As a member of both a con committee and a club committee I sympathise with Paul There are two related problems: in the first place, if you mention your involvement some fans, particularly new ones, will regard your opinions as invested with some kind of authority rather than as simply the voice of one fan. New fans especially often regard the more visible fans as being more knowledgeable and wiser. And secondly, if you attach the name of a Club, con, or any group to a personal statement it carries the implication that you are expressing views on behalf of that group. Paul was expressing a purely persona] view which may, or may not, be shared by the rest of the committee. But he was not entitled to mislead people into thinking he had the backing of the rest of the committee - although he may well have done so. Are we not allowed to have and express purely personal views just because we are members of a group? I think Paul was very brave to write as an individual, without mentioning the backing he undoubtedly lies.

I happen to know that the Enterprise One committee is experienced in both law and accountancy to a much more professional levsl than is normal for Star Trek committees. And like every other committee of course they have budgeted. But the very first question you come to when planning a budget is your expected attendance. They should have felt free to work this out against the knowledge that there was a min-con with an attendance of a couple of hundred. Suddenly they are faced with the competition of a major convention only seven weeks later. In practice, given their superior abilities as organisers, this may not matter. But that is not the point. They could in theory have worked out a careful budget, counting on 400 people attending, only to find that half of those who would have come have switched to Midcon instead because of their guest. The fact that this time the committee Is so good that they can cope with this unexpected sideswipe is beside the point, fhey shouldn't have to. That's why we, the fans, voted for the system.

And that is what has gone wrong with Midcon this year. Until now they have been in the same category as Empathicon, providing a good service for those fans who prefer that type of convention. And God knows, I can understand the temptation when you have the chance of getting De Forest Kelley at your con, especially when he has never appeared before. But I do think that the Elsons are guilty of letting their natural enthusiasm and excitement overcome their sense of judgement and responsibility. Midcon has become the third major convention in 1985 - the very thing Star Trek fans emphatically said they did not want.

"A mini-con with De Forest Kelley as guest" is a contradiction in terms. Midcon will be the third major convention in 1985 and as the third and unofficial con it can only exist at the expense of the other two official cons. The Elsons ask what is so different about an official con. One simple, basic fact: the fans voted for it. They chose the system, they rejected the moves to get it abolished, and they argued for it- Now there is a carrot to tempt them.

No one is telling Star Trek fans what conventions they can go to. There is no coercion. But interestingly only a few issues ago we had a debate on the business system (FIB Newsletter, not EMPATHY'S). Every single letter we had supported the system. Then we were discussing the whole thing theoretically, without referring to any particular conventions or particular situations. I made a special plea: if there was any member who opposed the system, who thought it unnecessary or wrong, would they please write in and say why they thought that. I stressed that this was a genuine request prompted by a desire to understand why some people did not agree with what I, and many others, consider airtight reasons. Not one comment was forthcoming. Now if someone has never believed in the system, and has always thought that Star Trek cons should be allowed to take place as, when, and where any committee thinks fit to hold one then fair enough. All I am saying is that if you voted for and support, and are now tempted to support Midcon instead of the official con simply because of the attractions of the guest, then you are facing a moral dilemma. I would not presume to tell anyone that they cannot go to Midcon. I am merely asking that they examine what they have previously said they believe in. If you believe in the system, as so many have sworn that they do, then I ask that that belief be put into practical support and not simply in empty words. I have never attended a Midcon because I am one of those fans who cannot afford more than two conventions a year; I always hoped to attend one when i could afford it; I long to see De - he is the only actor I have yet to meet; but no I will not be at Midcon in 1985. My conscience simply will not permit. I ask only that others search their consciences.
Keith Jackson:

Paul's interesting letter and article have raised several points, but before commenting on it, I feet that the reason for the business meetings and 'official' conventions should be remembered. Now, I'm not getting involved in the business meeting discussion from the last newsletter; that particular subject has been well aired and isn't likely to be raised again for a long while.

No, I'm talking about 6 or 7 years ago. At that time, there were no 'official' Trek cons - everyone was fairly happy with the way the cons kept appearing, and the problems which did occur were resolved. However, there appeared on the scene an outsider, a professional entrepeneur who organised, and wanted to put Star Trek on the map with, its conventions. There was little support for him but as a direct result, it was decided that the fans would introduce a form of voting system with the intention of keeping non-fan organisers away from the main Trek cons, of which there were two each year in Spring and Autumn. This official "seal of approval" was also intended to convey that these conventions were the ones voted in by the fans themselves, and who would support that convention. Add this to the system now operating, for better or worse.

I'll turn now to Paul's article. I offer apologies in advance for the length but I feel that comments with more insight into the running of a con would be helpful for the average fan. Unfortunately, each sentence seems to be worthy of a comment! The numbers therefore relate to each sentence - a most logical procedure.

1) I am not sure whether the competition comes from other, non-Trek cons, of which there are scores, from small Trek cons, or from the other Trek con that year. To the average fan, the only difference is the size of the con and maybe, the guest(s). I am sure there is no confusion about what cons fans are attending, with 'official' in the title.

2) Cons, be they Trek or whatever, are usually arranged with profits designated for a specific charity. This is not at all unusual but is probably peculiar to British traditions. Also, only fans run conventions in Britain, not companies or organisations. The implication that only 'official* Trek cons are run by fans for charity is most misleading.

3) The 'official' cons so far have been voted in 18 months before the date chosen, but there is no need for this to happen. The business meeting rules allow for a vote of "no confidence" in all proposals, leaving a con voted in at the next business meeting(s) only 12 months (or even 6 months) to sort itself out. The 18 month period was not chosen because of the time needed to organise but because it was felt to be the optimum time for hotel quotations and to prevent clashes with other cons. Guest negotiation is hardly relevant - UFP 84 arranged David Gerrold to guest in a matter of weeks, if not days; SOL III only arranged for James Doohan a few months before. But certainly, having won the vote, any committee should contact its proposed guests immediately and have things sorted out in a matter of months.

4) The reason the cons can negotiate cheaper room rates is because the con can fill completely the hotel, something which was quite rare but in present times is just as much a bargaining point as it was. Hotel rates form an important part of the con proposal package and the quotations should be carefully checked: fans are welt aware of current prices and expect a good deal. One can always re-negotiate an even better deal afterwards, too.

5) Nonsense. The list of "things to do" can seem never-ending but it is by no means as daunting as is implied, especially if properly organised by a willing committee and helpers.

6 ) It is true there is some hard work to do, but as I said earlier about 
fans, there is no great difference organising a minor or major con.
It is basically a question of scale. Moreover a 100% attendance at
 all the programme items is highly unlikely, even for the opening and 
closing ceremonies or the guest speakers. It must also be remembered that many function halls have strict fire regulations which should not be broken (regarding the number of persons in a given area at one time).

7) I'll be honest - I don't understand this comment about the bar bill. however, the size of profits accruing from the hotel bar from soft drinks as well as liquor and beer during a convention weekend is an excellent negotiating point with the hotel. The same applies to the food arrangements.

8) Publicity is a problem, I admit. The media are rarely interested until the day of the event, and even then seem to misquote at every opportunity. Going out live on radio is best, believe me! But the main method of information dissemination has been totally ignored for a few years now. The Fan Clubs rarely have anything other than the basic prices and address to write to for details. Galileo 84 was an exception - the committee because the STAG committee well before the con and the updates reached the fans through the newsletters. I've asked before in the Empathy newsletter for con organisers to let the clubs have updates, so that fans who voted for that con know what's happening. I hope things will change - but there is no news from the 85 cons so far.

9) Yes, fellow fans, conventions do make losses from time to time- The fens never suffer - they've paid their money and should get value. But surely the committee stands any shortfall in funds? The implication is that aU the money from the convention goes into the box, with the result that the charity may well get nothing. I am horrified if this implication is correct or that any Star Trek con committee would consider running the con finances with this in mind. Of the many Trek cons and media cons I have committeed, helped at of advised, certain functions, such as the auction, raffles and 'ransom money' had their proceeds earmarked for the charity, and the con did not touch this money for its bills. Obviously any profit from the con ibslf was added to this charity money, increasing the benefit. But, like the fans, the charity should always benefit to some extent. I hope that Paul's statement is not as I read it and I will be the first to applaud an announcement from the Committees of SOL III 85 and ENTERPRISE ONE confirming my mis-interpretation.

10) In a free society, competition is always there, if not from another con, then perhaps a friend's wedding, or saving up for a video. And, of course, anyone who wants to, can try to run a convention, Trek or otherwise, for as few or as many people as they wish. As far as I know, no Trek fan has had commercial backing. Perhaps Paul knows something the rest of us don't? On a personal note, I wish we'd had commercial backing in the past - just imagine what could be done with the clout of Corgi Books, Paramount or the BBC!!! The guests, the publicity, the sheer size of it all! The fans would have had a superb con, the charity still gets its money and the committee have no financial worry.... Finally, it is not only the conventions' future which is bleak but the very economic future of the country which is bleak, and affects all of us who want to go to cons.

11) The survival of all cons rests with the fans. As long as a Trek cons is voted in under the rules of the business meetings, there will be an 'official' Trek con- As long as the fans want and can continue to go to the cons, 'official' or not, Trek or not, cons will continue.

12) Star Trek is kept aiive in Britain and the rest of the war Id by the people who want to keep it alive. The fans want it to live; the cons and the clubs would not exist without the fans, not the other way around. The cons, 'official' or not, are a sign of this willingness.

As I said a few hundred or thousand words ago, I apologise for the length of this commentary. I understand others have commented also and hope that everyone manages to wade through all the writings and form their own opinion without fear or favour. I also hope that Paul in his capacity as member of the committee for ENTERPRISE ONE will want to reply to these comments; and the more fans who become involved and put their thoughts on paper, the better. That way, con organisers will have some idea of what you, the fans, want, and you, the fans, will know what is happening to your cons.