roycalbeck (roycalbeck) wrote,


To those who have been interested in attending ZonieCon, I'm afraid I must announce that we are cancelling the event for general lack of interest.

In large part, this is simply because we have done very little, as a convention, to promote ourselves. And that, in large part, is because I personally do not have the resources as one of the millions of long-term unemployed in this country, to pay for significant advertising out of pocket. Frankly, most of what I've been able to spend has been limited to flyers, plus gas money distributing those around the Phoenix Metro area.

Nor have the flyers been moving in any significant numbers. At Further Confusion earlier this year, I brought 500 flyers to distribute across the numerous areas where they were allowed, but despite an attendance of some 2500 furries, less than 100 flyers moved. Many of those were handed out at a dealers' room table by GoH Mitch Beiro and convention staffer Ted Sheppard.

Locally, there has even been active hostility against the idea of having an Arizona furry convention from other Arizona-based furries. In furry-frequented places where our flyers have been provided, they have subsequently been trashed, and artwork has been posted indicating hostility towards myself (in one prominent instance, dismemberment). I have no idea if this is just a few people or many, since no one has actually communicated any problems to me, but since the flyers are all I can personally do, it's effectively hamstrung my efforts at getting word out.

Flyers, however, were not planned to be our big advertising venue. We were supposed to have an active website up by the end of February, and with this I was planning to network banners with other conventions and popular furry websites. I had said that, if we could not find someone to do the job, I would do it myself, but that my HTML skills are stuck in 1995. In response to this, I was told by one of our core convention staff that they had a qualified volunteer for the website, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

As March rolled past without any sign of such a website or even any confirmation of who exactly was supposedly working on it, I began asking for updates on this and other progress issues from certain of our convention staff --- such as contact information for the volunteers our staff had rounded up. Weeks would pass, and then I would get a "I've been busy" notice, no response to my previous progress queries, and then silence again. Phone calls would go to voicemail and I would never get a callback. IMs went ignored.

I have to admit I was concerned from the outset this might happen: I'm unemployed and in Phoenix, whereas the rest of the convention staff are in Tucson. I do not have the money for gas, or even a Greyhound ticket, just for purposes of finding out what I should be able to learn from a two-paragraph IM or email. And in the past, communications with the same convention staff have been difficult even when I lived in the Tucson area because all of them are used to face-to-face meetings and otherwise easily distracted by the needs of day-to-day life.

Because we have no website and have not moved any significant number of fliers, we currently have exactly two pre-registrations (money orders which will be refunded within the week), and NO hotel room block reservations. Unless things were to dramatically turn around in the next month or so, this convention was nothing but a nose-dive into many of the same problems ZonieCon has always had in the past. And I saw no such indication in the offing.

I therefore contacted our beneficiary, Eric Bitton, to let him know how things stood, and recommended we pull the plug. After mulling the possible options over, Eric agreed. There is simply no reason to rent a hotel at the cost of thousands of dollars for a convention that could just as easily be held at a Denny's.

Given that all of this happened because I once said I would run ZonieCon again given the time and money, I am now retracting that statement. I do not see a future for an Arizona convention which does not have a stronger and more active commitment towards building attendance, or which has a chairman, like myself, unable to provide for its needs.

I would like, nonetheless, to thank everyone who has invested what time and effort they were able. But ZonieCon is simply not to be.
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