The last few weeks Phoenix Comicon has had a lot of volunteers and attendees talking about their initial plans to change their staffing model and only accept volunteers who paid to be members of the non-profit group The Blue Ribbon Army.
The initial reaction was not a positive one, but it did open up opportunities for Convention Director Matt Solberg to meet the volunteers who were concerned about the change. One possibility brought up was whether or not the convention would shift from volunteers entirely and move forward with a paid staff model, and volunteers were even given the option on voting on which model they would prefer. Now though, according to Phoenix Comicon, despite “what most of our volunteers selected” (this volunteer included), the convention has decided to move forward with a paid staff model, and I have mixed feelings.
While I think that there are positives to this choice, such as staff being paid and a clearer expectation of those working for the con, than volunteers in the past, I have some questions about what things will be like moving forward.
Writing personally, I don’t know at this point if I’ll have a position with the convention going forward. This is something I’ll absolutely miss, but it won’t keep me from attending. I do wonder though, if I work for the convention how it will affect the experience, both for staff and attendees. After all, it was made clear that if the convention shifted to paying staff then there would be cuts, so for example, instead of two people each working a four hour shift, there would likely be one person working an eight hour shift, or longer. So even if people are being paid, if they’re not able to enjoy the convention, will they be enthusiastic about their work. Again, for me personally I love moderating, so I would still enjoy the con, even if working it cut into my time attending.
Regardless of my potential of working for the con, in the long run I think that Square Egg Entertainment made the best choice. As a “rip the band-aid off fast” kind of person, I think that going with the BRA option would have only delayed the con from making this shift eventually, and now they’ll only deal with this level of confusion or outcry from volunteers once, rather than a second time down the road. They’ve also avoided any potential legal issues down the road, and if all this is for the good of the con, then they might as well do it sooner rather than later.
Who know’s exactly what Phoenix Comicon 2017 will be like? I do know that no matter what I’ll still be there, and looking forward to the cosplay, guests and overall geeking out.
Were you surprised by Phoenix Comicon’s decision? Let us know in the comments. To read their full press release, click here.