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News of FurFright closure emerges through leaked email

Your rating: None Average: 4.9 (7 votes)

Connecticut furry convention FurFright is no more, according to a now-deleted journal post reprinting an email supposedly from Belic Bear and K'gra Leopard (also received by Wag):

We had every intention of keeping FurFright going for years to come. At this year's Closing Ceremonies we dispelled unfounded rumors and told you we'd be back in 2014 and beyond. That was always our intent.

Since that time the Con Chairs have experienced a devastating turn of events in their personal/family life, making it impossible for the convention to continue. All our time, energy, and resources need to be spent healing and coping with the challenges we face. So due to circumstances beyond our control, FurFright has come to an end. 2013 was our final year.

This news was not confirmed through official channels as of Saturday night. However, the convention's website contains no information on future events a month after FurFright 2013, and no response had been made to questions regarding 2014 on Facebook.

Update: Bios (FurFright 2013's Dances coordinator) has tweeted that he is "now personally working with Crowne Plaza Sales Dept signing contracts for #furfright" and that "due to personal reasons Furfright will change a hand [sic] in con chairs for 2014".

Update 2: FurFright has posted the original message on LiveJournal and Facebook, mentioning the possibility of continuing the event with a different name:

There is a small movement right now by FF staffpersons to hold an event in the same timeframe, which is being bandied around on twitter #furfright However, the FF name will remain with the Con Chairs so this new event will also have a new name, should it come about (which we would certainly love to see!).

It is official #furfright will retire its name, but our passion and love for this fandom will live on for 2014 with a new look and name! [Bios]

Update 3 (Dec 4): Voting is proceeding on suggested names for the "New England Furcon". Over $850 in donations have been raised through an offer of a 10% pre-reg discount.

Update 4 (Dec 4): The new convention's staff have terminated voting "due to infighting amongst the community over name choices":

The name will instead be chosen by board decision tonight, using all previous submissions as a guideline. While vote counts will be considered, they will not determine the winner.

The message to "friends and staff" gave few details, claiming that the reason for closure was "a very personal matter, and there are no options open to us". Instead, time was devoted to thanking the staff and attendees, and covering the event's impact, including its charitable operations.

Many greeted the news with dismay on Twitter, with some criticising the decision to shut down a non-profit organization due to personal issues:

Ed.D. (@waruikoohii): I think this whole #FurFright thing should wake people up to the issue of a few people being in charge of a whole convention. Having a board of directors who can say "Oh okay, well, we'll just elect new chairs" instead of just shutting the thing down...

Giza (@dmuth): "If I can't do it, no one can!" is a shockingly arrogant way to run any organization. Unacceptable. Unprofessional. #FurFright deserves more

FurFright, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization and had three other directors as of the end of 2012; however, none were officers of the board.

Co-chair K'gra gave more detailed reasoning behind the decision to withdraw the name:

As far as Belic and I are concerned, this was a pact we made from the very beginning when someone tried to steal the con away from us and make it an illegally set-up for-profit event instead. And we have also seen conventions change chairs and then go downhill afterwards. We didn't want to risk this happening with FurFright. (This is NOT a dig at anyone on our staff or our corporate Board of Directors.) I know there are people who will say (and are saying) "omg! how selfish!", and it is to a small extent. But if you had worked really hard on something like this, poured your very soul into it, had to deal with all the stress and anxieties of making sure everything came together, you would be protective of the final product as well.

FurFright was founded in 2003, attracting ~160 attendees. It grew through the decade, instituting a 1500-person registration cap in 2011, and had raised over $59,000 for various charities through the end of 2012.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

This is essentially what happened to the ConFurence in Southern California, held every year from 1989 to 2003, when it was arbitrarily declared cancelled by its Chairman despite furious objections by most of the rest of the committee who were prepared to continue it. The next year, they created CaliFur to replace it, which is going strong after ten years.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 5 (6 votes)

Like the termination of Furry Connection North, this news - assuming it's true - leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

It's all very well to create a non-profit for your event, but part of the point is to separate the entity from the individuals who founded it. If board members don't have a continuity plan in place for if/when key staff disappear, they're doing it wrong.

This doesn't have to be hard. It can be as easy as knowing the answers to "who would run this if I wasn't here tomorrow?" and "do they have/know everything they need to know to do it?" (It helps if they are in on your plan, too.)

Yes, when you've led an event from the start, it can seem like "your baby" - but like a real baby, you can't just kill it if you can't take care of it any more. Being a fiduciary means putting the organization's best interests first; and it probably isn't in FurFright's best interest to liquidate.

The same goes for large websites. I think a few fans might be quite disappointed if Fur Affinity disappeared - although in that case it's up to the shareholders of Ferrox Art LLC, whoever they are. (This is really a call for non-profit organizations to be formed to own/run such websites, which is something I should get around to now that I'm responsible for Inkbunny as well.)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

There's four good reasons to incorporate, in my book. I would suspect most are aware of the first two, but fewer two of the second.

1) Limited liability -- the directors are not personally liable for any contracts that the organization enters into. If owned personally, all of the assets would be fair game.

2) Tax reasons. The 501(c)(3) organization seems to be fairly pervasive in the US, and rightfully so because it imposes no taxation on the organization's profits.

3) Continuity is easy to achieve, as you said. Transferring is as simple as electing new directors or officers (however the organization's bylaws provide for it) and filing a notice that the directors have changed.

4) It provides a "poison pill". I am not an expert on US tax/charity law (hey, I'm Canadian) but my understanding is that under 501(c)(3) legislation, any organization that is dissolving has to give its remaining assets to an organization with similar objectives. This pretty much FORCES you to consider "Hey, if we close down, I bet a whole bunch of other people are going to want to set up another con. Do we want to cooperate with that effort, or do we want to force them to fundraise from scratch?"

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

A dissolving 501(c)(3) has to distribute surplus assets to a 501(c)(3) or to government for public purposes; but as K'gra says the purpose of FurFright is to raise money for charity, I could see them donating funds to the War Dogs.

I feel 501(c)(3) is a dubious choice for furry conventions. Such an organization must be run exclusively for exempt purposes - and many members are there just to have a good time. I would go with a 501(c)(7) social club, which is what Anthrocon and Furry Fiesta/DRAMA use (MFF, AAE/FC and FWA are 501(c)(3); Rainfurrest wants to be).

[501(c)(7)s are still non-profits and not taxed on most revenue; the key difference is donations are not tax-deductible for donors. But most members benefit little even if they itemize their deductions - rare for the furry demographic - since the value of services rendered is not deductible. e.g. if you sponsor at FC, you get to deduct $50, not $100. The risk of losing status is not worth it IMO. Plus, such conventions can end up focusing on raising money for charity, which is nice, but arguably a distraction from furry matters.]

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Great info, exactly why there needs to be a "furry news" outlet. Is there a book about this stuff... like "so you want to start a convention?"

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I am not sure if there is a specific book, but several long-running s-f conventions (Los Angeles' Loscon XL, put on annually by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, ends today; other cities such as Boston, Minneapolis, Portland, Albuquerque, and Seattle have annual s-f conventions going back over two decades each; Philadelphia's goes back to the 1930s) should be willing to help you out. S-f fan/conventioneer George Scithers wrote such a manual, but I don't know if he ever published it professionally. He was willing to send a copy to anyone who asked, but he has been dead for awhile now.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

Years and years ago I remember sitting in on a panel where the staff from several furry cons discussed running cons in a very general sense. One big problem with telling someone else how it's done is that there are a lot of factors that vary according to location. What sort of business, charity or organization do you set yourself up as for tax purposes? Does this limit the services you can provide? What kinds of federal, state and municipal laws come into play?

Does your hotel insist on a particular kind of insurance? How well can you accurately predict attendance in advance, so you won't have to pay gigantic hotel fines if you fail to fill up your agreed-upon room block? Are there unions? Do your dealers need to apply for their own tax or business licenses? Can electricity be provided to individual dealer's tables? Can food be served at con events, or does the hotel arrange that? Can credit or debit cards be used at registration?

Then a lot of factors within the hotel are affected by the size of the convention you're running, your staffing needs, what equipment is available to you, and how well you're socially networked. Some areas have more con activity than others (SF, anime, etc.) and there might be a local network of people that share resources and volunteer staff. Panels and lighting for hanging artwork. Stage lighting, speakers, video projectors, microphones (cordless or corded), control boards, dance lighting, computer facilities. How many people do you need for con security and ops, and what are their communication needs (walkie-talkies, etc.)? Con staff need shirts or uniforms, and body shapes can vary a lot. Who's in charge of signage, programming needs, scheduling, the con book? What guests of honor can you afford, and what perks can you offer?

It's... complicated. Furry cons come and go, for all sorts of reasons, and usually several reasons at once. "Why didn't they... If they'd only run things differently..." statements can be thrown around forever. On the one hand it can be an educational warning about con organization, but more often turns into drama and a blame game. I don't know Belic well, but I do know he's a very compassionate human being who really feels his emotions quite strongly. To stop running Furfright, either something very personally difficult must have happened, or a final straw may have broken the camel's back. In any case, he's also got a right to privacy about things going on in his life. On the down side of this, if someone else wants to pick up the Furfright ball, they can't sit around twiddling their fingers. Or Furfright may simply have to be no more. Furry cons are a privilege, not a right.

Belic, I hope you're ok. Take the time you need. If there's anyone who can help take the weight off your shoulders, let them know. You didn't run Furfright alone. You're not alone now.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

True. Much of the confusion right now is because it is unclear whether Belic Bear and K'gra Leopard discussed their situation with the FurFright staff and the majority decision was to discontinue the convention, or whether Belic and K'gra announced FurFright's shutdown taking the rest of the FurFright staff by surprise. If the latter, can the rest of the staff continue FurFright with a new Chair, or is Belic's and K'gra's decision final despite what the rest of the Committee may want?

In Los Angeles, there is plenty of help from other fandoms if the new fandom/convention organizers want it. When anime fans wanted an anime convention (Anime L.A., ten years old now), they asked local s-f fans, costuming fans, and filking fans, who were all glad to help. Several volunteered to serve on the first few Anime L.A. committees. Area furry fans have always insisted that they could put on their own conventions without any help ("bureaucracy"), making many mistakes that the other conventions and fan groups could have warned them about (many fans did, and were generally told to "go away and don't bother us"). The desirability of incorporating as a not-for-profit corporation was one of the first. Result: ConFurence and later Antheria in Redondo Beach self-destructed.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

There's http://conrunner.net , which seeks to compile articles from experienced conrunners, but it's very much a work in progress. Generally anyone who wants to run a con should work on staff of an existing con for a few years.

Your rating: None

Thanks! This site has a fair amount of info:
http://www.upcomingcons.com/guides

There are a number of furry related subjects that seem lacking coverage in print, this is one of them. Fursuit making has one book in print needing updates. Fursuit photo essay/documentary could be a good one. My business could invest in such a project and handle work to fulfill thousands of orders. I have talked to a few people who have pitched to publishers. I will keep watching it.

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> I feel 501(c)(3) is a dubious choice for furry conventions.

I would go even further and say that a furry convention, as they are today, should NEVER be a 501c3, and any convention that currently does so is in violation of IRS tax code.

"To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3)..."

(http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Exemption-Re...)

There are so many things in a furry convention that have no bearing on the money raised for its given charity: art shows/auctions, dealer room/artist alleys, gaming rooms, dances, etc. Profit made from attendance and more expensive sponsorship levels never go to a charity - they are there to alleviate the costs of convention purchases - event rooms, mostly.

Your rating: None

I've seen MFF give $30,000 in direct support to its annual charity - enough to give other board members pause before they voted it through. Certainly some of that Shiny Sponsor money can be attributed to such gifts.

MFF's primary purpose is to "facilitate education in anthropomorphic literature and art", which cover many of its activities (like the Sparkledog panel I attended); donating to other non-profits is secondary. Still, it's hard to rationalize some scheduled events as educational. (I guess we touched on MPI/MUF at the MUCK meetup . . .)

You could also argue supporting the sale of art isn't exempt (though in that case, a lot of non-profit galleries out there may need to worry). The tax court did just that in 1985, stating that since Archon applied no quality controls to the items offered, it was not engaged in art education.

You are not operated exclusively for exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and you are operated, in part, for the private benefit of artists and dealers. Also, you are operated in furtherance of substantial nonexempt commercial, and social and entertainment purposes.

Furry cons don't look great here. MFF says they "want anyone with interest to be able to display their work", and they're not alone; AC (not a 501(c)(3)) will "accept anyone who has their reservation in on time". FC requires that the majority of an artist's work be on-theme, but is silent as to quality. It's best not to think about games (though Lupus in Tabula has werewolf art!).

Whether anyone would benefit from a strict enforcement of the exempt organization rules is another matter. MFF, for example, succeeds in raising far more per head than any other furry convention of its size, and I think the art show managed to be beneficial this year despite its lack of selectivity. Both MFF and AC also pick art awards. But certainly, if you're starting a new convention, think long and hard about whether you could reasonably defend your filing choice in tax court.

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Anthrocon's a 501(c)(7) of course, and has no pretentions about being a charitable organization. As declared in its IRS Form 990, Anthrocon's mission is to operate an annual convention of cartoon enthusiasts (keep in mind this is mundane-speak; of course it means furry fans, but there's not much room to explain this on the form).

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Indeed! I had a similar issue working with the USPTO trying to register WikiFur; we ended up with "an online publication in the nature of an interactive encyclopedia in the field of anthropomorphic animals".

I did not mean to imply that the selectivity of Anthrocon's own art show could be an issue for it tax-wise; merely that MFF's position was roughly equivalent to other major furry conventions. As a social club, AC is expected to offer pleasure and recreational services, as long as it does not provide them to the public.

Your rating: None Average: 2.9 (7 votes)

With all due respect, comparing FCN's decision as a board to close after an incredible successful series of cons with what you're reporting as a "take my ball and go home" situation is incredibly insulting to the con chairs, staff and volunteers that made FCN amazing.

The FCN board gave up weeks of their lives making that con as incredible as it was. They donated hundreds of their manhours, their equipment, and their own money getting it off the ground and keeping it running. The decision to close up wasn't make easily by that group, and it wasn't a split second, decision of anger by any means. FCN has a reputation of being one of the best cons in the nation, and if they felt like it wasn't going to be able to continue at that level, they have every right to decide to close up, leaving us with, what, 50 additional con options to attend throughout the year?

I get that people are upset that two wonderful, incredibly fun cons have closed in a short period of time. But can we have some damn perspective and not dump these two vastly different situations into the same pile? It's ridiculously insulting.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

This makes me incredibly sad. I live only 30 minutes away from this con, but because of age and then out of state college, I could never go. Next year FurFright was to be my first con I could make it to. Nothing is logistically close enough for me to afford either at this.

I do thank the staff for all their work these past ten years, but agree with the sentiment of GreenReaper. You would think if a con is a general success, a 'Con 101 must-have' would be to network likely replacements if/when a current con chair/boardmember must step down abruptly.

Hopefully this story will end well.

Your rating: None Average: 4.7 (3 votes)

Truly stable conventions with a strong foundation in the community and its staffing structure should be able to outlive its founders.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I totally agree. I can't remember many times I have attended a con where the con chair has said at opening or closing ceremonies: "This is not OUR con, but YOURS". That line is becoming more and more posturing than truth. It's sad Furfright didn't have a backup plan if something happened to Belic or K'gra.

And for FCN, There was no mention on their website (unless it was buried in the small print) that it was supposed to be a 5 year convention (with a sixth year added). That's why it's closure shocked so many attendees.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Like others, I'm going to wait to hear until there is a more official announcement that goes through the various channels. As an attendee for the past three years, I can definitely say that FurFright has always provided a pleasant, intimate environment and it would certainly be a loss for the fandom in New England (and beyond) if it were to cease.

Having been near the top level (a con's director) for approaching five years, this is sending the message loud and clear that it's not the attendance of a convention that makes it a healthy con. Honestly I've looked a lot at attendance numbers, and the events of the last three months -- between FCN and FF -- are sending a message that that's not the case. It's what the organization does with its volunteers and staff, right from the top down:
- Successfully recruiting fresh blood into the convention, consistent with the con's growth (growth is good, but your staff pool will need to expand to accommodate)
- Ensuring retention. Provide incentives. Promote an esprit de corps among your staff. Don't be tyrannical.
- Finally, promote from within and see potential where it exists. You cannot stick your staff in dealers den for years on end. If they master a role, have them train another person and move on up. The goal should be to get them to that top seat if they show the potential for it.

Any organization that has the same two, or five, or ten people in the same seats year after year is vulnerable to this.

Events like the closure of a convention tend to galvanize people and realize "Holy crap, we can't take these events for granted!" and suddenly promote a whole spate of interest in how a con works, but it shouldn't get to that point in the first place. I can't imagine the con landscape there will remain empty for long, but still.

Your rating: None Average: 2.5 (6 votes)

It was clearly doomed already if they were naive enough to trust somebody that would leak private emails just for a little attention on FA.

If their whole staff was that immature, I'm shocked it lasted so long.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

It doesn't appear to have been a deliberate leak, more an attempt to share information with fellow staff. The user concerned appeared unfamiliar with FA, and said they thought only their watchers would see their journal.

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Or as the guy on the Green Miles says: "I didn't know the sponge was supposed to be wet."

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I got this email too, from a @furfright email address (although I know these things are easily faked)

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Regarding Update 2, if the convention is changing its leadership and its name, then for practical purposes FurFright is dead and being replaced with a new convention, even if this is with the agreement of the rest of the FurFright committee. I don't know how much a convention can change and be considered the same convention with just a new name and leadership. Certainly nobody considers CaliFur as the same as ConFurence with a new name and leadership, rather than a new convention. Maybe that's partly because CaliFur started its numbering over again rather than continuing with the old ConFurence numbering, and publicized itself as a brand new convention even though it was run mostly by the old ConFurence staff in the same way. FurFright has always been dated rather than numbered, so unless the new committee makes a point of publicizing it as a new convention rather than the old convention with a changed name, the change will go a lot more smoothly.

Fred Patten

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Since it costs a fair amount to federally register a new tax-exempt organization ($850 for FurFright's size), if they don't want to run the convention but also don't want to call if FurFright, perhaps they should just rename the organization.

Amending the Articles of Incorporation would be far cheaper and faster than starting a whole new organization, and if Belic and K'gra don't want to be associated with the resulting product, they can resign from the board once it's done.

That's assuming the board decides it's best not to use the old name (which is no longer federally registered by Belic), and that they want to remain a 501(c)(3) organization vs. say 501(c)(7).

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

I see two fundamental problems with Furfright and Fury Connection North: the lack of a cession / contingency plan and the lack of desire for growth. As lack of growth I think of Furfright cap as per the Wikifur article and termination of Furry Connection North on Flayrah. If one one to run a convention one needs to plan for growth or turn the reigns to a organization that will.

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For several years before my stroke, I attended Portland, Oregon's annual s-f convention, the OryCon. At that time it was always at the very friendly and popular Red Lion/Doubletree Columbia River Hotel, on an island between Oregon and Washington state. The OryCon gradually grew until the hotel set a 1,600 attendance cap, since the hotel would be overcrowded with any more. For several years, the OryCon made this its policy saying that they would not accept more than 1,600 members. Finally the convention committee and the Portland-area s-f fans agreed that the 1,600 limit was stifling the convention by preventing growth, so it moved to larger hotels in downtown Portland that could handle more attendees. So yes, a convention does have to allow for growth even if it means leaving a popular hotel.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 2 (4 votes)

It has to do no such thing. A con can cap its attendance at 20 and run for just one year if they feel like it.

If somebody doesn't like that, they can simply not go. If they want one to be a particular way, they can either find one that is or go make their own.

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A little off topic
I live in Portland Oregon and regular attend most local geek cons except Comic and Gamestorm. I think one of the panelist at the fan history at Orycon 34 may had known you and some of the early founders of the furry fandom, I wish I had more time to pick his brain.

Orycon had found a way to limited growth (not by design): declare it a writer con and costumers and fans need not to apply. The costume community had thin out recently. I did not see some of the usual fan groups, I saw form 2007. Orycon 33 was the worst. Attendance was hovering around 1600 or less and the board why they cannot attract new blood. Compared Orycon to the local anime con Kumoricon that went from 400 in 2003 to 5684 in 2013. I have hope for a new local multi-genre con Newcon, I put in for two panels on on fury 101 and free sf podcast on the net.
By the way most of the Red Lion/Doubletree Columbia River Hotel burned down it gave Kumoricon a bit of a show.
Correction I was wrong it was the Thunderbird on the River Hotel.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (4 votes)

I don't agree with "lack of desire for growth" being an issue.

A lot of furry conventions rightfully want to maximize their attendance and reach out to more people each year -- especially people getting their first experience with the fandom. Just read FurFright's LiveJournal and look at all the people who talk about FF being their first convention. Conventions can be life-changing experiences in a person's life, and it's only natural to want to bring that to others.

But furry conventions are not for-profit businesses that are focusing on greater profitability each and every year. They are run for the benefit of their attendees and therefore they need to consider attendees' preferences. Many attendees want to have a reasonable chance of catching up with people they already know... that becomes very difficult as a con grows and becomes less intimate. As an example, most private golf clubs keep a fixed membership number and a waitlist, and there's a good reason why -- their current members don't want their experience to be reduced by fighting for tee times, dining time, etc.

FurFright made a strategic choice to emphasize quality and provide the best con environment it could to a more limited crowd, rather than focusing on bringing it to as many attendees as possible. It might have resulted in challenges down the road as prereg sold out sooner and sooner, but it never got to that point, and in my view it was an acceptable strategic decision.

In fact, FurFright didn't quite hit its attendance cap this year (Belic announced 1496 at Closing Ceremonies and joked that it wasn't too late to snap up the remaining 4 tickets).

So yeah. There are plenty of cons out there focusing on growth. It's perfectly acceptable if there are a few out there that decide to focus on different priorities.

Your rating: None Average: 1.7 (3 votes)

I can see what your are saying if one want and intimate gathering then perhaps a local fur meet is best option over running a fur convention and not like furfright blasting updates all over the net like on Portland Oregon PDX furs site, keeping promotion local.

It is another issue that bugs me about fury and convention I find odd to dumb: spending thousands to travel to an out of area fur con (expect maybe antrhocon)just to socialize or attend the same panels as local furcon. I already thinking dropping Rainfurres if Furlandia become viable option. What is need is to structure fur cons along the line of Science Fiction where we have local cons like Orycon, next step is regional like Westercon and then something like the Worldcon.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

And so it happens again. And so does the same comments from the same folks alas :/ * it's not fair, its so selfish, if only they told us, why don't they have spare Chairs in the wings*.. poppycock. pure and utter poppycock. You can plan as much as you want and fight as hard as you can but sometimes things have to come to a end. Bills must be paid, lives must go on, folks get old and retire.

If folks think it is that easy to have spare chairs or several key staff *waiting in the wings* I cheerfully ask them to donate themselves to the nearest furcon and see just how *easy* it really is. Even if you have folks you trained up for it they can just as easily refuse because lets face it.. this is a rough and unloved job folks!. NO pay, almost no perks, and trust me no silly secret *master of the furry fandom* cabal armed with mighty powers over all and sundry. Just a lot of hard working folks who for whatever reason had to shut its doors and go home.

As rough as it is to say to the fandom..please give them respect and let the folks who bled for the con have some small measure of dignity in a tough time. yes it is hard on the fandom, yes it is rude to suddenly close, yes its a terribly bad way to end a wonderful convention but think of the staff..the chairs.. the concom!. These folks will have us pick them apart for years!! for why it happened, and are going to feel even worse every single comment made that comes across as *hey I could have done better*. It is hurtful, it is rude, and it is as false as a politician claiming the check is in the mail. VERY few of us even volunteer at a local charity function much less make a job out of doing a convention, so trust me when I say its a labor of love that at times becomes too heavy to carry.

I hope the fandom can find in this time of festive cheering and kindness towards man that we can simply say what a wonderful convention it was, hope it does have a *offspring* as good as it was, and fond farewells to all involved. Petty name blaming and rumor mongering will just taint the spirit of a wonderful event, and some damn fine talent. I myself wish everyone fan to Chair a wish for a safe holiday, much merriment, and fond memories. We all will meet again and of course keep the spirit alive in our own way.

Gaia bless Belic, K'Graa, and all the FurFrighters. You shall always be friends
Pakesh_De
ChairCritter for Furnal Equinox

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I will say this, it's easy to say "be prepared for when the leader goes" as GreenReaper has on several occasions. It's another to actually be able to practice that ability. For what if the Norn were to suddenly vanish? What would happen to Flayrah, Inkbunny, and Wikifur? Sure the later two might go on, but the former? Nothing gets published until Green's edited it, and unless he has someone on a will somewhere no one's going to be able to access the site to change that.

Instead of looking at another man's house and pointing out that it burned down due to faulty electric, maybe it's better to use the lessons to look at one's own wiring. In Flayrah there should be someone learning the procedure put in place that Green does when editing, he should be teaching someone the steps he takes, making a procedure, and having someone follow it to edit a few articles of his choosing which he'd check afterwards.

But back to the topic at hand: in essence, I've heard a lot of good things about the con and know that losing it in that district will be a major blow to furries in the far north east US. While it's hard to see it go and alot of people deal with mourning in their own way (such as analyzing the death to death), I think the bitterness over it's going shows how good it was.

It's unfortunate it has to end, but furry lives on.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

As noted on our review process, mwalimu is technically able to publish work (and has on occasion; just now, in fact).

Timduru has admin-level access to the server and could manually reset my password and gain access to my account. He and RainRat have administrative access to my domain names. WikiFur and Inkbunny have admin-level staff.

These are emergency plans and I would not expect those named above to take on the sites full-time. Instead, I would expect them to act reasonably to a) safeguard the assets and b) find someone willing to continue the mission.

As it happens I have been seeking a sub-editor. The primary criteria is the ability to create publishable work (i.e. "camera-ready copy" - well-written, with suitable links and images in place, HTML formatted, etc.). The most suitable candidates on that basis would be Higgs Raccoon and crossaffliction, who have gained experience through use of the site and have at least 100 stories each under their belt; however, they both have limited time and have indicated to me that they feel more comfortable writing for now.

It's true, I should finish that documentation of the various considerations I make in editing and distribute it. However, I would not expect people to do things "my way" if they do have to take over entirely. At that point, it would be their site to run.

Your rating: None

Would you like a few modest suggestions?

Splitting up work for delegation and teamwork could ease an ongoing burden. Like a team of sub-editors that discusses, votes and works together through a private forum. (How do you discuss this right now... email?) Then they report to the editor- who maybe just gives a thumbs-up, because the team can go to each other to take it that far, without waiting for your guidance. Each sub-editor could format the "camera ready copy", and take responsibility for a regular department. Reviews, con reports, interviews, news, features, etc. (And other responsibilities go out for discussion.)

Splitting up content by subject could make the site more interesting for readers, too... a channel for each department.

Would you consider doing that and would it take a budget? I would pitch in money.

Your rating: None

Yes, I use email (and PMs) - and yes, it doesn't scale particularly well, and I know it.

Delegation is key. I've been trying to get the forums back up for this purpose, but there's a theme-related issue that I need to wrestle with when I'm less tired. (It works with every theme except the one everyone uses.)

If I started paying reasonable wages for their writing, I don't think either of us would have enough. Similarly, hiring a professional editor for Flayrah, even part-time, seems like it'd be more trouble and expense than it's worth. Best to keep it to volunteers.

Personally I don't need money right now; I just have limited time to split among three active sites and other duties. There are things I want to do with Flayrah, but Inkbunny and WikiFur have development/editing/moderating/writing needs, too.

Your rating: None

Good to know :) I meant more like a one-time coding job to set up a forum/system for volunteers to use.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (7 votes)

Oh, tempora! Oh, mores! Oh, shit!

In all of this, I still have not seen a clear answer to whether Belic and K'gra consulted with the rest of the FurFright staff and it was a majority decision to end the FurFrights, or whether Belic and K'gra arbitrarily declared the FurFright ended on their own, taking the rest of the FurFright staff by surprise. I have never been to FurFright -- it's in Connecticut, and I'm in California -- and I may be unduly influenced here by memories of what happened when the Chairman of the ConFurence in Southern California declared it cancelled despite the objections of the majority of its staff. In that case, the staff created the CaliFur the next year (CaliFur X is next year -- that's 10), proving that, yes, they were very willing and able to carry on.

There is a lot here about how it's easier to complain when a convention is cancelled than to do the work of continuing it; you can't just draft a committee to do the hard work of running a convention when they're exhausted; and so on. Yet there have been several comments on this thread that most? some? enough of the existing FurFright committee is prepared to continue it under a new name, or to replace it with a new convention that will be almost identical except for the Chairs. That does not sound as though it had become impossible to continue the FurFright. If the staff agreed to give up the FurFright name out of respect for Belic and K'gra for starting it and all of the hard work they have put into it up to now, I think that Furry fandom will agree with that and respect it. But the fact remains that it does not look like the FurFright HAD to be cancelled due to the failure to find anyone to replace Belic and K'gra.

Let's have some more light on what is happening behind the scenes.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

The issue is not that leaders decided to set their burden down, nor that they did not have someone ready to take it over. It is that having decided that they could not lead, they sought to toss FurFright off a cliff rather than let someone else pick it up, out of fear that any new leaders might fail to do justice to its name, and theirs.

This would be fine (if not ideal) if it had been a privately-run event. In fact, it is a public charity, and its tax-free revenues have been used to develop the name which has been "claimed back" by its founders.

I believe you and Blindsight are lead founders of Anthropomorphic Events of Ontario, Furnal Equinox's official body. If you decided that you could no longer run Furnal Equinox, would you see it as your right to terminate it and AEO, rather than pass it onto other board members, or to the most-qualified community members? How would you feel if your successor sought to make such a decision?

If this were an isolated incident, it would not be such a concern. We have seen two furry conventions falter in a similar fashion in the last six months. I fear that this indicates a widespread misunderstanding of one of the principles of non-profit governance - that the first and last duty of any fiduciary is to find the best way to continue the organization's mission, disregarding their personal interests.

Your rating: None

Ahh and there lies the cold hard truths indeed. Depending on the way the con was set up some cons close because the *float* cash which the investors want back cant be paid and thus it can close. FCN and FF seem.. seem to have closed due to implosions at the chair/concom level with folks retiring then the backups leave too or something ugly behind closed doors which caused a massive implosion.

Now it *is* in our rights to terminate the con as it is in almost any cons case but we would hate like heck! to do so. Yes we do have a plan for when we both retire as it happens to all chairs but until those backups are in that ugly line of fire you just never know..till it happens. Trial by Fire they call it in the military and it is a harsh bugger when its now YOU with all that pressure to preform.

Unsure as to the laws stateside, as they are a whole lot different then our side but we know that stateside has SO much fandom that cons close and new ones immediately launch before the ashes are cold. Canada does not have near that depth of workers so a closed con can leave a hole that would take a while to repair, so one hopes we never have to test about what happens when say our con shuts it doors.

Troubling indeed 2 great! cons closed doors but sadly its a non profit event and if folks are tired of banging heads for no paycheck much less other rl issues then they can close doors and go home. Not a great solution but tis entirely up to the owners of the *name* if they want it to continue or not.

Gaia bless and hoping things do not come in 3's
Pakesh_De
ChairCritter for Furnal Equinox

Your rating: None

It is tempting to comment on this, being also on AEO's Board and having a fair bit of governance experience in the course of my current employment. But I will resist as the question was to Pak, not me.

All I will say is that we've been making it a priority to make sure that the security of the convention above and beyond is certain through various means... and I think other conventions could stand to benefit from making the same a priority, as well.

Your rating: None

I will just point out that, legalities aside, there seem to be two general leadership models with furry cons. The first being 'The con chair serves at the pleasure of the board, but does not have any direct control over the board'.

This way is a bit rarer in furry conventions. It usually means the con chair changes fairly regularly. It often means many at the event probably don't even know who the con chair is nor does it really matter much from the attendee standpoint. They are there as head manager of the staff, not as head entertainer to the masses. Should one quit on short notice in convention run this way, it's far more likely the event could go on with little or no noticeable disruption on the part of those attending. My personal opinion is this is the more stable way of doing things long term.

The second (and seemingly a LOT more common in furry conventions than other fan conventions that I've seen) 'The board serves at the pleasure of the con chair who effectively has total control over what the board does or even who sits on the board.' It's not hard to figure out if a convention is being run like this. If you think of a convention and immediately associate it with a particular chairperson who's been chairperson for as long as most can remember it's one of these regardless of what the bylaws may say

The thing that surprises me the most isn't that a couple of conventions run this way have shut down, but that only two have. I'm not even sure I count FCN here since the founders had a specific plan for how many years they were going to have the event and more or less stuck with that plan. That most of those attending didn't know of the plan doesn't change this.

I don't know how FurFright was set up. Whatever board it had were either powerless to question the chairpersons decision to end the convention or chose not to. I find it hard to believe the convention name wasn't owned by the parent corporation if there was such a corporation. Given there seems to be another event rising from the ashes, it's obvious it wasn't a unanimous decision. Hopefully some things will have been learned if a new event happens.

Your rating: None

Actually, you're wrong.

Most furry cons are set up in the former manner. If you check their bylaws (as I have), most furry cons are set up with the chairman serving at the leisure of the board, and public meetings and elections and all that are set up as occuring in the bylaws.

BUT, they don't actually do that, and thus you have situations where the board is "fired" by the chair. If the board of any of these cons where this happened actually took the chair to court, they would win. It might also be illegal when the board "dissolves" as a result of that action. It's probably also illegal if the chair takes the money/assets and moves it without a board vote.

That said, so many furry cons/orgs don't have any intention of following their bylaws and basically just set up the corporations cause someone says it's a good idea.

I personally cannot wait for a day where the board , having been "released" by the conchair, sues the absolute hell out of the conchair and votes in a new one.

Your rating: None

The trouble is usually the chair IS the main glue holding many cons together. Once said chair burns out then its a bad episode of hot potato. I know a few cons where even talk of who takes over once *the guy* steps down and you may as well have screamed *fire* in a theater. Not many folks at ALL want a job that is hard, never ending, thankless, and no pay on top of whatever other life they have.

I understand folks upset at this or that con now defunct but its very hard to have a backup for some critical folks waiting in the wings. You can train them, beg for them, wrangle a promise from them, but once that job falls into the lap then it becomes a real chore. I wish more folks would try and take up the job but the very nature of the job filters many folks out, and others who swear they are more then willing you would not trust to operate your kid sister's e-z bake oven.

The idea of suing a conchair who *fires* his board sound like a disaster of epic pain which I would not wish on anyone. If he fires his whole board then it was more then just burnout happening and those details never get released, and rightfully so. Not a great work clause to have in your contract specially for a no pay job you usually pour a lot of your own cash into.

Gaia Bless
Pakesh_De
Chaircritter for Furnal Equinox

Your rating: None

If one person is all that's holding a convention together, then it's because that person and the board have allowed it to be done that way and all bear the responsibility should things come apart when said person decides to stop doing it. All major positions should have a viable backup person who could take over on short notice.

Your rating: None

To repeat my comment of a week and a half ago, "In all of this, I still have not seen a clear answer to whether Belic and K'gra consulted with the rest of the FurFright staff and it was a majority decision to end the FurFrights, or whether Belic and K'gra arbitrarily declared the FurFright ended on their own, taking the rest of the FurFright staff by surprise." If the FurFright committee minus Belic and K'gra is able to replace the FurFrights with an (almost) identical convention with just a new name, why was it necessary to discontinue the FurFrights? If it was out of respect for Belic and K'gra, okay, but why not just say so? It surely does not seem like the rest of the FurFright staff wanted to discontinue the FurFrights, or were unable to continue them without Belic & K'gra.

Fred Patten

Your rating: None

I cannot say for sure. What I can say is that minus those 2, 100% of the staff have stayed on to do "the new con" and at least two directors had no idea this was coming at all.

Your rating: None

I am looking for information about the new con, if one surfaces to take the place of Fur Fright, and may Morrigan claim her furry son if I am lying, I am interested in attending the con whatever it is. The time frame was perfect and I loved attending, I looked forward to the trip up from Philly to New England in the fall. Heck, the trip up was half the fun with the other half running games and attending panels. Samhain is my favorite time of year, please tell me there will be another October furry con in CT for to celebrate with my fellow furs. I hope and pray that it will come about.

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About the author

GreenReaper (Laurence Parry)read storiescontact (login required)

a software developer and Norn from Irving, Texas, interested in wikis and computers

Small fuzzy creature who likes cheese & carrots. Founder of WikiFur, lead admin of Inkbunny, and Editor-in-Chief of Flayrah.

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