We’ve been talking about Finncon quite a lot during this visit here at casa Vandermeeria. The main reason for this is the sheer unadulterated joy and sense of proudness we feel for our national sf-convention. Finncon has been going strong for over twenty years now (quite a long run, if one considers that Finnish fandom was really born only during the 1970′s) and is looking likely to run for a long time coming.
I would’ve liked to have said that Finncon is looking stronger than ever, but I’m afraid that may not be the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth. As you ought to remember from one of Tero’s earlier posts, Finncon has been arranged together with Animecon these past few years. The attendance figure has risen to almost ridiculous heights and we can only estimate how many young animefans were present this year. Thousands. Together with them Regular sf-fans and those that are into both Country AND Western, the numbers are staggering. Like Tero says, 10 000 people.
What this has brought, besides a LOT more colour, young people and interest, is the ever increasing problem of finding a proper venue and – surprise, surprise! – money. Money makes the world go round, no matter what one might want to think. And arranging a free social event for couple of thousand people with fairly varied fields of interest, all the way from origami to raygun workshop, William Shatner karaoke to sercon discussions of William Barton‘s use of working class imagery, from Serial Experiments Lain to Raumschiff Orion, not to mention the use of iambic pentameter in Lewis Carroll‘s Jabberwocky in regards to trochaic tetrameter of Kalevala!, is no picnic. You see, different strokes and all that.
Organising a joint convention can be problematic at times, but also a lot of fun. However, the inevitability of separating the two beasts will have to happen soon. As a matter of fact, next year’s Finncon/Animecon will be the last joint adventure, as we’ve come to know the two. Co-operation will continue and many of the organising team members are willing to continue helping to arrange both conventions. So, life goes on.
But this poses a really dire problem. If you were planning on coming to Finncon/Animecon, your only chance (for the foreseeable future) looks to be next year! You simply MUST come to Helsinki next July 10th to 12th. And even before, for even thought the convention proper will be a tree-day event, additional programming and various fan activities will take place prior to this. Or you could just hang around and meet the fandom. Or see the sights, for Helsinki seems to be one of the recent Hot and Happening cities of the world to visit.
Finncon 2009 looks to be a fun event, even if as one of the main organisers say so. We already have couple of great Guests of Honour (George R. R. Martin and Alastair Reynolds, not to mention Jari Lehtinen, Mr. Finnish Anime-fan) and we’re working on additional Guests. The venue is an old factory, with a main Hall that takes in more than 3000 people at the same time. Now, to you big convention center -wise blessed people of other countries, that may not be a huge deal, but here in Finland, there is a somewhat epidemic lack of good, moderately-priced venues for a convention this sized.
Tero explained a lot in his post, but I think a little breaking of numbers might be in order. Finncon is run by the fans, for the fans. It is free and has dual purpose of both educating new fans and general populace of things fantastical, but also to provide a safe, fun and engaging event for the more experienced group of sf/f-aficionados and hardcore-fandom. The revenue comes mainly from two sources: various grants, both governmental and municipal, are incredibly important, but nothing could be done without a substantial sum that comes from the dealers (space, advertising and sponsorship deals) and other sponsors. If we look at the situation with Helsinki, the biggest spending figure is the rent for the venue and accoutrements. That burden alone is worth about half of the budget.
But I’m getting all moody and misty-eyed here. Let’s cheer up a bit!
Finncon is FUN! If you don’t want to take my word for it, take Jeff‘s! There is always something going on in English (and at times, in Swedish, too!) and this time, we’ll guarantee a proper fannish lounge for all those that are ready, willing and especially interested in mingling with other fans in order to chat, drink beer and just hang around. The programming looks like a mix of everything and then some. We’re trying all kinds of new things this year, with longer program slots, more interactive programming, more lectures, more debates, more interaction between sf and anime communities, more frivolity and more than ever before seen science programming. It’s going to be interesting!
I believe that next year’s Finncon will be something we’re all going to talk about for a long time coming. And I sincerely hope that majority of that talk will be about all the positive things people experienced during it. I hope to see more foreigners at Finncon than ever before, so far the mere mentioning of GRRM has generated quite a lot of interest in neighbouring countries.
We hope to see you in Helsinki in 2009!