WisCon on break in 2024 – A chance to recover and plan

The Board of WisCon’s parent non-profit, SF3, and the WisCon ConCom have come to a consensus that we won’t be planning to run a WisCon as usual in 2024: our leadership bench is very thin, and with the ongoing pandemic and challenging political situation in the US, folks are getting worn out. We need some time to rest and figure out how we can continue WisCon in a sustainable way.  If you want to be involved paving a path to the next WisCon, join us for a planning session this Memorial Day Weekend and make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter, where we’ll be posting updates.

We’re still absolutely putting on a con this May, and we’re going to do our very best given the people and resources we have available! We know this is scary and a big change, but we believe it gives WisCon the best chance to continue in the long run. Huge thanks to everyone who has volunteered their time and donated funds to enable us to host WisCon both last year and this year!

If you haven’t registered for WisCon yet, now is a great time! Both of our amazing Guests of Honor, Martha Wells (she/her) and Rivers Solomon (fae/faer), are planning to attend in person, and so far we’ve sold about 200 in-person memberships out of our 600 person cap on in-person attendance. Register to attend WisCon online or in person and complete our Panel Interest Survey by 3/10 to tell us what kind of programming you want to attend at WisCon.

Need a hotel room? Our special discounted rates at the Madison Concourse are available until 4/25. We have to fill up all of the rooms in our block or else we’ll owe fees to the Concourse. (This only counts for reservations actually filled, not cancellations, so only reserve a room if you plan to use it.)

We look forward to celebrating our 46th WisCon together with you in May before we take our much-needed break. We’re so grateful for all of your support!

How to Throw an (Official) Hotel Party at WisCon (In Three Easy Steps)

Attention, party heroes!  WisCon Parties 2023 is now open for submissions!
Throwing a party at WisCon is a great, cost-effective way to celebrate a book launch, share an offbeat interest, or just generally make everybody’s convention more fun. The Priority Deadline is 3/15/2023, so we’ve put together a simple three-step guide for anyone who’s thinking that the role of Party-Thrower might be right for them.
If your party proposal is accepted, WisCon will provide the space (for free), and will list your party on the official schedule. In return, you’ll follow all rules and procedures, and make sure the party is open to all convention attendees.
  1. Decide what kind of party you want to throw
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and make sure everyone can attend parties at their personal comfort level, official hotel parties come in two flavors. We’ll provide signage to be posted at the door.

  1. Safer parties are MASKS REQUIRED. You may serve non-alcoholic beverages and provide wrapped grab-and-go snacks as party favors. Guests may briefly remove masks to sip beverages, but snacks must be consumed outside the party.
  2. Safest parties are MASKS REQUIRED. No beverages or food allowed. Masks must stay on at all times (essentially, the same rules as panels).
If indoor hotel parties aren’t your jam, we’ve got options!  You can throw an online party or an outdoor party. We’ll list it on the schedule so that everyone knows where to go.
2.   Make it fun!
It can be a challenge to create a party atmosphere without food or drink, so themes, activities and decorations are key. Here are some ideas:
  • A lip synch “karaoke” party. Give prizes for the best lip synch performances!
  • A continuous game of Werewolf with themed decorations and beverages.
  • A steampunk tea party with take-home biscuits (consider getting a local tea sponsor!)
  • A collaborative art party
  • An indoor carnival with mini carnival games and prizes (team up with others who have stuff to promote!)
  • A silent disco
3. Send your party proposal to us before MARCH FIFTEENTH.
Your proposal doesn’t have to be perfect: in fact, we’ll work with you to develop your ideas! If you’re ready to step up and throw a party, we’re ready to help. Email parties@wiscon.net with any questions.
Remember, anyone who sends in a proposal before 3/15/23 will have priority when free official rooms are being assigned.

Throwing Outdoor Parties Off-site

If you want to throw a party with food and drink, you’ll have to head outdoors! Unfortunately, we cannot provide any outdoor spaces, but we are happy to put your party on the official schedule so everyone will know where to go.
We’ve looked into a few outdoor options, and hope to add more as we do research.
Madison Park District Shelters: The Madison Park district offers a variety of shelters with bathrooms, picnic tables, and beach access! (One such park shelter was the location for last year’s Floomp brunch.) For information and rates (which range from $35 to $130 for a half day), check out:
Parthenon Gyros Rooftop: This one of the closest outdoor venues we’ve been able to find. Unfortunately, there is no elevator.
Information on rooftop rentals can be found on the catering menu under “Roof Garden Rental Policies:
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Rooftop Sculpture Garden : Gorgeous, very close, and accessible by elevator, this qualifies as a luxury option.  It’s quite expensive, but discounts for nonprofits may be available. Check out the rates here.

Submit your party idea here to be included on the official schedule! Priority Deadline: 3/15/2023, Final Deadline: 4/30/2023.

How to Party Online at WisCon

There are lots of good reasons to throw an online party at WisCon. It’s still the safest way to gather, it’s accessible to our online-only attendees, and of course, you can eat and drink whatever you want!
If you throw an online party at WisCon, we’ll provide the virtual space of your choosing (a zoom room, discord channel or both), and list your party on the official schedule to help you promote it.
Online parties can take many forms. We encourage you to think outside the Zoom box and provide a little bit of structure. (A game or activity that allows for casual chatting and has excuses for breakout rooms and downtime is perfect!)  Video parties are the most popular, but asynchronous activity-based parties thrown solely in the discord voice channel were also successful last year. For example, the Haiku Earring party worked very well in Discord, with attendees posting links to an Etsy store, and writing haikus to match the linked earrings.
For your party, consider creative ways to combine digital presence, live parties, and tactile activities.
  • An open mike on discord voice
  • A themed Zoom trivia party with a costumed/in character host
  • An online reading of a cult sci-fi screenplay (extra points for effects and props!)
  • A book-themed cocktail recipe exchange
  • An asynchronous review binge to support WisCon authors and magazines
  • A postcard party where participants can decorate postcards and send them to each other (note- this could be combined with a postcard station at a live hotel party as a way of bringing online and in-person attendees together)

    Submit your party proposal here! Priority Deadline: 3/15/2023, Final Deadline: 4/30/2023.

WisCon 2023 Art Show Call for Artists

Art Show applications for WisCon 46 in 2023 are open (through March 1)! If you’re a visual artist planning to attend and would like to show or sell your work, we’d love for you to apply. Artists new to the show are very welcome! In past years, the Art Show has included painting/drawing, illustration, photography, comics, printmaking, wearable art, ceramics, fiber art, and more. We also accept mail-in art. More details about the show are available at http://wiscon.net/events/art-show/, or go directly to the application at https://forms.gle/6pQ4ZwpnGt6rpTSi8.

WisCon 46 Readings Track Open for Proposals!

Do you have a new book out this year? A poem recently accepted for publication? A work in progress you’d like to share? WisCon’s Reading track is now open to proposals!

To start, form a group — readings are organized into 75-minute sessions of four to six authors, usually with a common theme. Forming a group can be a snap for authors featured together in a collection, critique groups, or a group of friends.  We encourage you to try to form a group in advance, but if nothing’s coming together please sign up for a reading anyway. We’ll do our best to group individual readers.

Open poetry reading and rapid-fire sessions may have as many readers as you can fit into the time period. The WisCon Reading track is typically very popular, and so we must limit everyone to just one reading.  There is one loophole! You may read again during an open mic event.

Much more information on our Readings track (and how to register) is available on our website.

The proposal period for Readings closes on Saturday, March 4. Please note that you must also register for WisCon 46 before signing up for a reading.

We look forward to hearing your work at WisCon this year!

December 2022 SF3 Board Meeting Notes

SF3 is the parent not-for-profit that oversees WisCon. To try and improve transparency for our membership, we’re posting summaries of our Board meeting notes.

December 2022 Board Meeting – Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction
December 18, 2022 2:00PM Central
Attendees: Jeannette (President), Jaye (VP), Kit (Treasurer), Essay (Secretary)

  • WisCon Online Con has a volunteer to lead the department – thank you Anna!! We’re waiting on her to be onboarded but we can confirm there will be an online track in 2023. However, since she is remote, we don’t currently have someone to lead a truly hybrid track – right now it looks like we will have separate online and in person tracks like last year.
  • Hotel contract is signed, registration for WisCon 2023 is now open!
  • Giving Tuesday : $7k raised for general fund, $660 raised for Wiscon Member Assistance Fund. Thank you Jaye!
  • Approved plan to move SF3 records away from Box and into a Google Group
  • Future of WisCon committee still needs volunteers to guide the, well, future of WisCon! Please send an email to board@sf3.org. No experience required, just enthusiasm.
  • Personnel is also critically understaffed – if anyone has time to devote, please get in touch ASAP using the 2023 volunteer form! You can be remote! Tasks are all pre & post-con so there’s no commitment during the con itself.

WisCon 2023 Registration & Hotel Reservations are open!

We know you’re excited because we are too: Registration is finally open for WisCon 2023!

Register here for WisCon 2023

In-person registration will remain open through the start of the convention or until we meet our cap of 600 in-person members. There is no deadline or cap for online memberships.

For all the details, visit http://wiscon.net/register/

Our hotel room block is also open! Book online with the Madison Concourse or visit the Hotel page for more info.
Registration Pricing
Adult Memberships (18+ at the time of the convention)
  • In-Person: $65
  • Online: $25
Teen/Youth Memberships (7-17 at the time of the convention)
  • In-Person: $25
  • Online: $25
Supporting Membership: $20

Former WisCon Guests of Honor: Free

Dessert Salon: minimum: $20; suggested: $35

Child Care (age 6mo – 6 years) $1 per child; requires pre-registration. Please provide the age of each child to be enrolled in childcare. More details on Child Care for 2023 coming soon!

You can pay online by credit card, or if you plan to attend in person, you can pay at the convention by credit card, cash, or check.

If you can’t use the online registration system but wish to pre-register, email registration@WisCon.net.

COVID Safety

All members who attend WisCon in person in 2023 must comply with CDC Guidelines concerning being “fully vaccinated.” This standard applies to all in-person attendees, regardless of age. Please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 information page for current requirements.

When you register, you must attest that you are currently vaccinated, and you will be asked to show proof of vaccination at the door of the convention. While you are at the convention, you are required to mask in all convention-controlled spaces, and encouraged to mask in other public hotel spaces.

Let’s Rebuild WisCon!

This update is written by me, Kit Stubbs (they/them), in my role as Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization.

Thanks to everyone who donated, volunteered, and helped spread the word, last year we were able to #SaveWisCon! It’s now up to us to #RebuildWisCon by building up our financial reserves to run WisCon 46 in 2023 and years to come and growing our volunteer base so that we can have an awesome con in 2023.

WisCon 46 in 2023 is happening!
We are thrilled to announce that Gillian Sochor (she/her, G is soft like “giraffe”, Sochor like “super soaker”) is joining Lindsey and Sherry as our third co-chair. This means we are going ahead with an in-person con for 2023!

As soon as registration and hotel rooms are available, we’ll send out an update via our newsletter. As always, please subscribe if you aren’t already on our list — email is the most reliable way we have of communicating with you!

Thanks to everyone who donated and offered matching gifts last year, we were able to cover the cost of our 2022 hotel contract. We are now looking to raise $30,000 in this year’s annual fundraiser which will allow us to do all kinds of awesome things for WisCon 46 in 2023, including:

  • Offset the cost of hotel rooms for members who need to isolate due to COVID-19 and who otherwise might not be able to due to the financial burden
  • Purchase more high-quality air filters for con spaces and masks for members
  • Expand the meal voucher program, introduced last year, which enables members in need to eat for free at local restaurants
  • Continue to offer CART services for transcription, now that the state of Wisconsin is no longer providing funds to offset that cost
And part of that $30,000 will go towards rebuilding WisCon’s savings after last year.

If you weren’t aware, WisCon can’t pay for itself with registrations alone. We try to keep the cost of registration down to make our con as affordable as possible. But what that means is that we’re counting on the members of our community who can chip in extra to do so! Please donate today to help #RebuildWisCon!

Can you give $1k or more to help rebuild WisCon? Write me (Kit) at treasurer@sf3.org to help start a matching funds drive.

WisCon Member Assistance Fund
This year we’re also looking to raise $3,000 for our WisCon Member Assistance Fund! The WMAF is a specially designated fund that can only be used to provide travel grants to help members attend WisCon. Please consider making a donation via PayPal.

We are so grateful to everyone who helped out pre-con and at-con in 2022! We are now still desperately in need of pre-con volunteers so that we can provide all of the activities and infrastructure that we did last year. This year, if we don’t have department leads in time, we’ll have to start cutting back on what we offer. If there’s something you really love about WisCon and you want to make sure it happens, now is the time to step up by completing our volunteer survey!

We’ll continue to send out calls for volunteers over the coming weeks, but right now we need new people in the following committees & departments (departments/activities at risk of getting cut in bold):

  • Personnel:  We need people for Personnel who want to do back-end checks, posts, and permissions. This role is great for anyone who likes checklists, many small & well-defined tasks, and staying organized. You get quick, small victories that recur with each new opening and candidate. The big payoff is getting each new person on board! It takes an hour per week, on average, though like everything else that can get more intense closer to WisCon, depending on staffing turnover. No at-con work, remote volunteers OK!
  • AppDev: We need at least one more volunteer developer to help with our back-end scheduling & registration software (PHP/Apache/MySQL). Remote volunteers OK!
  • Art Show: We need an Art Show Room Setup/Teardown Coordinator – Leads at-con volunteers to build the Art Show panel structures (out of pipes and pegboards) on Thursday afternoon/evening and tear them down on Monday. We have tools and instructions for this, but are looking for a handy/engineering-minded person to take charge of the process.
  • Communications (Print Materials): We need help so we can offer print materials next con! We’re looking for a Print Coordinator to grab info from our departments and turn it into PDFs for printing so we can have some basic materials available. If you’ve got some basic word processing/layout skills and you like supporting our membership through communications, this might be a good fit for you! Remote volunteers OK.
  • Communications (Marketing): We need someone who’s excited to help us spread the word about what WisCon is! We know there are lots more people who might be interested in joining our feminist speculative fiction con but they just don’t know about us yet. If you’ve got ideas for what we can tell or show people to excite them about WisCon, the Comms team can help you get those ideas out on our blog and social media. Previous marketing experience helpful.
  • Communications (Twitter): Twitter’s still here, and we need someone to help out with WisCon’s Twitter account! At a minimum, this involves making tweets at the request of other departments and committees; but if you’re into it and enjoy being on Twitter, you’re welcome to put your own stamp on it by signal boosting our past Guests of Honor and others whose work might be of interest to the WisCon community. Previous experience using Twitter required.
  • Con Suite: We need one to two more co-leads or we won’t be able to offer Grab & Go food or meal vouchers. This is an at-con position involving buying and working with volunteers to set up and restock the free food available to members in our Con Suite. Previous experience in food service is a plus but not required.
  • COVID-19 Team: We’re looking for one online support volunteer and one in-person support volunteer to join our existing COVID Team members to help out during the con. Support volunteers are available to help set up air ventilation as needed and connect attendees who test positive for COVID with the resources that WisCon has available. We’re looking for folks who have a strong interest in keeping WisCon 2023 as safe as possible; a general understanding of public health policy making is helpful.
  • Dessert Salon: We need at least two co-leads (at least one at-con) so we can run our Dessert Salon fundraiser this year! This involves working with the hotel to set the menu of desserts; scheduling dessert salon volunteer shifts; and working at-con on Sunday to pass out dessert line number tickets & oversee the event.
  • Dealers Room: If you love checking out the vendors in our Dealers Room, we need an at-con co-lead to help liaise between dealers on site and the rest of the ConCom.
  • Gaming: Love games and helping people play them? We’re looking for an at-con co-lead to join our Gaming department! Should we continue to run scheduled games the way we have been doing? Should we look at a more Games On Demand style schedule (recruiting a small group of Game Masters who have a small catalog of games they can run with anyone who shows up)? If you have ideas about how you’d like to see gaming run at WisCon and want to help recruit people to run and play games, please join us!
  • Gathering: If we’re going to have a Gathering this year, we need at least one lead! Leads solicit for activity ideas and help with room setup. If you want to help people mingle — maybe you have ideas for activities to help our members meet each other? — this would be a great fit!
  • Green Room: Want to help support our program participants? We need co-leads to organize and schedule volunteer shifts for our Green Room.
  • Guest of Honor Liaisons: We need two people, one for Martha Wells and one for Rivers Solomon, who facilitate communication with them pre-con and help direct them to where they need to be at-con. Liaisons also introduce them at the Thursday night reading and Sunday Guest of Honor speeches. If you’re a people person who’s into scheduling and logistics and you’re OK with some public speaking, this could be a good fit for you!
  • Hotel: We need one person to be an at-con coordinator for A/V with our awesome hotel, one person to be a pre- and at-con liaison for our event spaces with the hotel, and one person to help manage the WisCon room block (remote OK). All these roles have been filled by one person for the past number of years and we need to bring in some new volunteers. The Concourse is awesome and the staff is very friendly and helpful, we’re looking for folks who are detail-oriented and excited about logistics.
  • Kids’ Programming: If we’re going to have a Kids Programming track this year, we need one to two co-leads attending in person to advertise for activities and/or help run activities for kids. If you like working with kids, we’ve got plenty of supplies and ideas from past cons to get you started!
  • Panels: Panels Programming needs more pre-con volunteers to help review panels submissions and help with scheduling; you can help out whether you’re attending remotely or in person.
  • Readings: We need at least one person to help solicit for readers and work on scheduling readings or we won’t be able to offer Readings this year.
  • Registration: We’re looking for two at-con leads to help coordinate the Registration desk during the con, and an at-con volunteer to help coordinate tech support for folks participating in online Zoom-based sessions. You don’t have to do everything yourself, you’ll be working with the Registration team to set up volunteer shifts and provide info & training to during-con volunteers.
  • Safety: We need at least two co-leads to help us take care of us! Safety co-leads help promote a safer environment at WisCon through consistent security staffing throughout active con hours, issuing warnings as necessary, and working together with our Anti-Abuse Team, Con Co-Chairs, and hotel security. A lot of what Safety co-leads do involves recruiting volunteers for Safety shifts, offering brief trainings, and empowering those volunteers to help members who have questions or who need assistance.
  • SignOut: If you love supporting our attending authors, we need a lead so we can have SignOut again this year! Leads help solicit authors to participate, plan for who sits where, and then attend & oversee the SignOut event.
  • Workshops: Passionate about our workshops? We need an in-person co-lead to help solicit and schedule workshops and liaise between our workshop runners and the rest of the con, and a co-lead to help coordinate online-based workshops (remote OK!).
If any of these sound like they might be a good fit for you, mention the role or department in the survey under the “What kind of volunteer work are you interested in?” question. Want to help out but not sure where? That’s totally fine, too! We’ll work with you to find a role you’ll enjoy.

Thanks for helping us #RebuildWisCon!
Whether you’re able to donate or volunteer, we also need help spreading the word! Thanks for re-sharing us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and please subscribe to the newsletter and tell your friends to subscribe, too!

Co-Chair and Online Con Leads needed to have in-person, online events in 2023

Last week Stephanie announced she would be stepping down as co-chair for WisCon 46 in 2023. Please join us in thanking Stephanie for all the hard work she did on the post-con survey, Guest of Honor nominations, and department outreach/coordination as co-chair. We’re really grateful for her willingness to jump into things after having only attended WisCon one time!

In order for WisCon 46 to move forward the SF3 Board will be starting recruitment for the open Co-Chair position (who must be able to attend in person). In addition, for online or hybrid programming to happen next year we need at least one, ideally two, Online Con Department Co-Leads (either one person at-con; or two people, one at-con and the other either at-con or remote).

As we determined last year, Online Con Department Lead is a ConCom Co-Chair-level position due to the sheer number of departments that that position interacts with and the at-con workload. This means that if an Online Con Lead is willing to also take on some more general ConCom Co-Chairing duties, that person may fill the general co-chair vacancy and we may only need 1-2 new people total, not 3.

For more information on the Co-Chair role, see this blog post. Additional information about the Online Con Lead role will be forthcoming. If you are interested now in potentially becoming an a Co-Chair or Online Con Department Lead, please contact the SF3 Board at board@sf3.org.

In the interim, Ira is coming out of co-chair retirement temporarily to keep the ball rolling on Stephanie’s departments. Thank you Ira!

In the interest of transparency, we want to let you all know that if the open Co-Chair position isn’t filled by end of November, the in-person con will be cancelled.  It is possible we may still do an Online-only con in that scenario, but that depends on a number of other variables.  If we’re able to fill the Co-Chair position but aren’t able to recruit Online Con Department lead(s), the con will be in-person only (we won’t be able to have online or hybrid programming). In either scenario of in-person and/or online con not being able to happen, we will use that time to build up departments, train up leads and chairs, fundraise, and put ourselves in the best possible position for a full event the following year.

Because we don’t know whether or not we will be having an in-person con yet, we haven’t signed a contract with the Concourse. Without a contract in place, we also can’t open Registration or hotel room reservations. This does mean that in the case we’re not able to recruit a Co-Chair for an in-person con, we would not owe the Concourse a penalty fee.

We will continue to provide updates as we have them, and we will continue planning for an in-person convention for next year as recruitment for a Co-chair commences.

Send Us Your Workshop Ideas by March 1!

Are you a professional author or editor interested in running a critique session for WisCon 46 in 2023? Do you have other skills you’d like to share with the WisCon community? If so, then Workshops would love to hear from you!

In the past few years, we’ve been working to expand our events, and in addition to our critique sessions, we’ve offered special workshops on everything from special writing topics to hair braiding, handspinning, and panel moderation. Historically, we’ve also had volunteers coordinate workshops for our teen programming.

We’re already planning out the offerings for 2023, so now is the perfect time to be in touch. If you have an idea for a workshop, please send us an email at workshop@wiscon.net.

We’re also looking for volunteers to hang out in our Writer Salon at the hotel to ensure it stays a quiet space for people who want to write there and people to run writing sprints for the online con. If you’re interested in volunteering for one of these roles, please send us an email so we get you on our volunteer list.

If you want to learn more about Workshops before committing, you’ll find answers to many of your questions on our Workshops page (https://wiscon.net/programming/workshops/).

SF3 Annual Meeting October 23, 2022

SF3—the Society for the Furtherance and Study of Fantasy and Science Fiction—is the parent not-for-profit organization that runs the WisCon convention. The SF3 Board of Directors engages in long-term planning, recruitment, and fundraising for WisCon.

The 2022 SF3 Annual Meeting is coming up on Sunday, October 23, at 1PM Central Time. This meeting is entirely virtual! Information on joining will be sent to all current SF3 members a few days before the meeting.

If you’re interested in the future of WisCon and SF3, we encourage you to become an SF3 member (at the bottom of this post) and attend the Annual Meeting. Annual membership is $24, or $12 at our student/financial hardship rate, which we encourage anyone to use as needed. Free memberships are available to all BIPOC. To join for free, please email board@sf3.org with the subject line “SF3 Membership for BIPOC”.

We take payment by PayPal (below) or check, though if you plan to pay by check we ask that you email treasurer@sf3.org to let us know it’s on the way.  The deadline for joining SF3 in advance of the Annual Meeting is Wednesday, October 19. Madison no longer has an in-city postal sorting office, so if you are paying by check, please make sure your letter is postmarked no later than Thursday, October 13, to ensure we receive it by October 19. Along with your check, please enclose a completed copy of the SF3 Membership form.

We know this continues to be a busy and difficult time for all of us. We hope the WisCon and SF3 community can be a source of support in these times, and it is with that in mind that we hope you will join us on October 23. If you have questions or concerns that you’d like to bring to the SF3 board, but you aren’t able to attend the Annual Meeting, please feel free to contact the board by email at board@sf3.org.

Purchase your SF3 membership now!

Membership options