Con or Bust
Monday, 9 October 2017
Con or Bust, Inc., is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization (EIN: 81-2141738) that helps people of colour/non-white people attend SFF conventions. Con or Bust isn’t a scholarship and isn’t limited to the United States, to particular types of con-goers, or to specific cons; its goal is simply to help fans of color go to SFF cons and be their own awesome selves. It is funded through donations and an online auction held annually
Con or Bust was created in 2009. From 2010-2016, Kate Nepveu administered Con or Bust and the Carl Brandon Society acted as Con or Bust’s fiscal agent. Con or Bust became a separate corporation in April 2016.
Since Con or Bust's inception, over 340 different people have received assistance. In 2016, Con or Bust provided assistance, or committed to provide assistance, 99 different times, thereby helping 91 different people attend 25 different cons. Assistance has been provided to people living in China, Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, and Japan, in addition to the usual suspects of the US, Canada, and the UK.
Con or Bust’s total contribution income for 2016 was $18,095.95, in amounts ranging from $65.00 to $2,300.00. More than half of the people receiving monetary assistance (15/27) received $550 or less. Con or Bust also distributed 85 donated memberships and/or sets of donated hotel nights.
"Con or Bust took me to my very first WorldCon. I’m an international student from India, living on a meagre graduate stipend while I work on an MFA in the USA. The transport and hotel costs alone were asking a lot, and the substantial registration fee was well beyond my means. Con or Bust’s application form was simple and clear. It didn’t ask for intrusive details or for me to justify my need, only for me to state what I needed help with, and they had a donated membership for me soon after I turned it in. So I was off to Kansas City for MidAmericon II, where I reunited with my Clarion West class, some of whom I hadn’t seen since the workshop ended two years ago, and met authors whose names I only knew from their bylines in online short fiction magazines. A year later, I’m still friends with some of those people.
I didn’t quite know at the time how important those connections would go on to be for a baby writer like myself, yet to make her first sale, struggling to conceptualize what a career writing SFF might even look like. I did know that a year locked in my literary fiction-dominated MFA had left me starving to be around my people again. Con or Bust gave me that when I needed it most, and did it, moreover, with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of efficiency. I can hardly overstate the value of what they do to help fans of color find their footing in the community. It’s been my understanding that your first WorldCon is a memory SFF writers tend to treasure in years to come – and Con or Bust gave me mine."
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