Party applications open & party rules update

TLDR: Party applications are now open until Saturday, 4/30, at 11:59pm US Central time — but in order to reduce the amount of unmasking that happens during parties, we’re only permitting non-alcoholic beverages to be served at parties: no food, no booze.

As fun as room parties at conventions can be, what’s even more fun is an open party available to everyone.  Starting at 9pm Friday-Sunday, WisCon offers parties hosted by WisCon members and open to every member of the convention.  In past years, parties have included karaoke, a haiku-and-earring party, and piñata-smashing.

Party spaces must be requested in advance. Unfortunately, we are unable to entertain late party requests due to scheduling requirements.

Party reservations are prioritized due to a number of factors.  We are particularly enthusiastic about parties with a history at WisCon as well as parties that are promoting other cons, SF groups, book & author promotional parties, and other events. Please note that there are a limited number of party room reservation slots available.

We’re counting on your creativity to host awesome parties even without the appeal of food.  Maybe your party have will awesome music, fun games, or cool craft activities! How about a mocktail bar?

To submit your party request, please email parties@wiscon.net. Include in your request:

  • Your name, email address, and a phone number where we would be able to reach you
  • The names and email addresses of all other party hosts
  • Name or title of your party
  • Brief description of your party (just a sentence is fine)
  • Scheduling preferences, as party schedules impact other programming, and it may not be possible to change dates once initial schedules are set.
  • Any special equipment or room layout needs you have

If you’re considering requesting party space, please read the complete list of WisCon Party Rules. Questions? You can reach us at parties@wiscon.net.

News from our Board

WisCon is a project of the Society for the Furtherance & Study of Fantasy & Science Fiction (SF3 for short).  In an effort to not be strangers to volunteers or to the public, the governing Board of SF3 has decided to release a little summary of what we’ve been up to at each monthly meeting.  Here are our updates for the past few months:

April 2022

  • We welcomed De Ana Jones and LaShawn M. Wanak as our co-chairs of the newly founded POC Outreach Committee. We’re thrilled to have them aboard! You can reach them by email to poc-outreach@sf3.org .
  • We are continuing our search for con co-chairs for WisCon 2023. If that could be you, please get in touch with the board at board@sf3.org or the current co-chairs at chair@wiscon.net! We are especially looking for people who have past WisCon experience.
  • The board unanimously voted to reallocate unneeded funds from our Guest of Honor budget to our COVID-19 supplies.
  • WisCon is now offering comped memberships for all BIPOC pre-con volunteers.
  • WisCon members can now donate a membership to a BIPOC volunteer through the Registration system.
  • Next month is WisCon 2022! See you there!

March 2022

  • Our treasurer, Kit, met with our new financial team and confirmed everything is in order (as expected).
  • Last month, the Board presented the ConCom with a list of action items generated from the town hall on racism in Nov 2021. The ConCom has responded to us with the ones they can tackle this year.
  • We discussed other ongoing business re: getting the POC Outreach Committee founded, updates on budget, and cementing our anti-racist values in messaging that we can replicate across communications as needed.

February 2022

  • We discussed hiring for the position of POC Outreach Committee chair.
  • We talked about SF3’s financial responsibilities and goals, including updates on tax status and fundraising.
  • We discussed meeting with Con Chairs to assign out responsibility for action items generated from the November 2021 Town Hall (centering on combating racism at WisCon).
  • We discussed drafting social media guidelines and policies.
  • We talked about compensation for sensitivity reading for panel descriptions.

Vaccine Policy Update

We have updated our COVID-19 vaccination policy as of April 2022 (as reflected on our COVID-19 Policy Page):

Everyone attending the convention—including members, vendors, and any contractors—must be up to date on their COVID vaccines two weeks before the con starts. Up to date means a person has received all recommended doses in their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine; and for individuals 12 and older, one booster dose if their primary series was completed more than six months before the con.

At Registration, we will be checking vaccination cards to verify that EITHER:

  • a primary series was completed before November 27, 2021 AND a booster shot was administered on or before May 12, 2022, OR
  • a primary series was completed on or after November 27, 2021 and before May 12, 2022.

Given that as of 4/13/2022 the CDC has not approved vaccines for children under 5, children under 5 will not be allowed to attend WisCon 2022. Hopefully we will see more smols next con!

For those coming to WisCon from other countries: we will accept proof that you have received any vaccine recognized by the WHO. More information on WHO recognition of COVID vaccines can be found on their website.

#SaveWisCon Update

We are making AMAZING progress on our work to #SaveWisCon, thanks to your help!

  • We have now raised just over $32,000 in donations of which $30,000 will be matched, for a total of $62,000 raised to support WisCon! This is absolutely incredible, and we are so grateful for everyone who contributed and helped spread the word.
  • 70 people have completed our Volunteer Interest Form to help out with pre-con volunteering. Thank you all!
  • We’ve gained 252 new email newsletter subscribers since November, which is helping us make sure everyone gets the latest con news and updates. Not getting the newsletter? You can sign up here.
  • We have a total of 418 registrations (in-person and online). Our goal is 1,000! Please register and tell your friends about WisCon, too.
PLUS we are receiving a total of $5,500 in grants from:

We deeply appreciate their support and encourage everyone to learn more about these excellent organizations.

Thanks to your donations and these grants, we’re at roughly $67,000 in total funds raised!

Is this the end of #SaveWisCon fundraising? Are we just done now, forever?

Well…probably not, y’all, for a couple of reasons:

  • It is basically impossible that we can book enough rooms to meet our hotel contract, so we are going to owe the Concourse a lot of money. This is just how things are because of the pandemic:  we want people who feel comfortable to attend WisCon in person to attend, but we recognize that in-person events are a significant risk for many people.
  • My initial $70k-ish fundraising goal assumed that we would sell 500 online memberships (half of what WisCONline sold in 2020). We’re currently at a small fraction of that, and I don’t know how likely it is we’ll be able to get close to 500. So that’s revenue we were hoping to have that we may not have.
That said: This is a HUGE step towards making sure WisCon continues happening in the future!

Requesting CART/ASL Services for Programming

As part of our overall accessibility efforts, WisCon hires professional captioners and/or ASL interpreters during the con. CART will be provided during the Opening Ceremonies, at the Otherwise Auction, and for the Guest of Honor speeches. If you’d like to request captioning and/or ASL interpretation for other programming (specific panels, readings, etc.), please use this Google form. You can request CART/ASL for online sessions, in person sessions, or both!

Questions? Contact Accessibility (access@wiscon.net).

6th Floor Discounted Room Lottery open until 4/24

From now through April 24 at 11:59pm US Central time, you can apply to join the 6th floor discounted room lottery!

What is the 6th floor discounted room lottery?

Being able to stay in a room in the Concourse Hotel is one of the pleasures of WisCon — and also one of the biggest financial barriers to attending the convention.  As part of our commitment to affordability, each year WisCon is able to provide a limited number of rooms with discounted rates.  We hope that offering this discount can help just a few more people get to WisCon by making your stay a bit more affordable.

Though we call it a “discount,” the way it actually works is that WisCon will pick up the tab for the Sunday night of your stay. To be eligible, you must be staying at the Concourse on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.  You may be staying longer, but must at least be staying on these three nights.

We generally have 5 double rooms (with 2 queen beds) available on the the sixth floor, although the number, type, and location of the rooms may vary slightly from year to year depending on what space the convention needs for programming.  Because the number of discounted rooms is very limited, we make these rooms available through a lottery system — details below.

Noise caveat

Because the rooms that are marked as “eligible discounted sleeping rooms” are on the sixth floor, that puts them on the same floor where many of the parties are held in the evenings and also where the safer spaces and the Con Suite are. This means that there’s more noise generated by foot traffic, elevators, and so on. If you are someone who needs a very quiet room with not many people passing by at all hours, then the discounted rooms may not be a good fit for you.

Room lottery

We do not ask specifics of your need for a room — we assume that if you request a discounted room that you need one.  But because we have a limited number of eligible rooms, we offer rooms to members via a lottery. We do track who receives a discounted room and may remove an entry from the lottery drawing if that entrant was awarded a discount the previous year; this caveat is a factor only if we have more requests than rooms available.  (If we do not receive more requests than rooms, then you may receive a discounted room two years in a row.)

We are accepting requests through April 24 (closing at 11:59pm Central Time). After the request window closes, we will get in touch to let you know if your request is filled.

To request to be entered into the drawing for a discount, send an email to affordability@wiscon.net, with the subject line: ROOM RATE DISCOUNT. Include the following details:

  • The first and last name your hotel reservation will be under
  • Your arrival and departure dates
  • The number of people in your party
  • Any accessibility needs you have.
  • The best email address to contact you.

Entries which do not supply all listed information will not be entered into the lottery. Please limit submissions for the discount lottery to one entry per party.

See you at WisCon!

Draft WisCon schedule now available

A draft of the WisCon ’22 schedule is now available at WisCon.net! If you filled out the interest survey to participate on panels, please log into the app, view your personal schedule, and accept or reject your assignments by April 9th.

Even if you did not fill out the survey, there are still panels that are understaffed. If you see a panel with three or less people assigned and it’s something you’re passionate about, please volunteer by emailing panels@wiscon.net. And tell your friends!

Volunteers Needed

We are still seeking a number of volunteers for this year’s con; please fill in this form if you can help. Several of these roles can be done fully remotely if you’re planning to attend only the online con.

COVID Safety

3-4 roles
Organize COVID information: Continue to research and organize information related to COVID 19 safety, including event best practices, failures/successes from other cons, and updates from WHO, CDC, and local municipalities.
Contingency planning: Strategize plan to pivot from hybrid to fully online con if conditions dictate (e.g., if Dane County bans large gatherings). If pivot needed, coordinate with hotel, online, and physical location teams.
Convention safety: Take reports of illness at the convention and send them out. Coordinate with other WisCon departments to make sure the convention runs as safely as possible. Plan with Accessibility, Hotel, Panels. Advise departments, make sure enough spacing in rooms, create safe seating charts, etc.

Con Suite Lead

1-2 roles
Logistics: Organize materials, food ordering,
and distributing food.
People: Manage volunteers and assign tasks at con to make con suite happen.

Gathering:

Organize people who want to offer activities at the Gathering, coordinate when/where it will take place, assign tables, and set up (or organize setup of) room.

Readings:

Contact people who want to do readings, check with hotel/panels for space and time blocks, and schedule readings.
Again, if you think you might be able to help with any of these,  please fill in this form.

No Co-Chairs = No WisCon 2023

Ahoy! This is Kit (WisCon 2022 Co-Chair & Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent nonprofit) with an important update about WisCon in 2023: We are urgently recruiting for co-chairs so we can have WisCon in 2023! (Nope, no April Fool’s joke here!)

The deal is that I (Kit), as Treasurer, won’t recommend that the Board sign a contract with the hotel for 2023 unless we are sure that we have co-chairs. Signing a hotel contract puts WisCon on the hook for many thousands of dollars, and breaking a hotel contract would effectively bankrupt our organization. We need to make sure that a WisCon is going to happen before we sign a contract, and at a minimum, that means we need at least two co-chairs.

Couldn’t Ira, Aileen, and I just co-chair again for 2023? Co-chairs are asked to take a year off in-between cons so that we don’t burn out dedicated volunteers. This explains in part why there was no official WisCon in 2021: Ira and I had just co-chaired WisCONline in 2020 and no one else volunteered to co-chair for 2021.

What happens if we aren’t able to get two confirmed co-chairs for 2023? In that case, we would plan to sign a contract with the hotel for 2024 and there would be no WisCon in 2023.  If that happens, Ira and I are both willing to stay on the ConCom as Fairy Conparents to help document how we actually run WisCon. We’ll encourage all of our current pre-con volunteers  to stay on with us to work together on creating department/committee runbooks under a more flexible schedule than con-running permits.

If there is going to be a WisCon in 2023, we need at least two co-chairs. At least one of these people should have had some previous experience with WisCon/SF3 in a pre-con role, meaning that the person is current or former member of the ConCom, Personnel Committee, Comms, or the SF3 Board.

If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know via Basecamp or email to chair@wiscon.net!

You can find more information about being a co-chair below.

Role: Conference Committee (ConCom) Co-Chair

Department/Team: The Co-Chairs supervise the ConCom and work with other SF3 committees also working on Con business (Communications, Personnel, etc.)

Reports to: SF3 Board via monthly reports

Time Requirements: During the less-busy part of the con year (July-February), each co-chair spends an average of about 2.5 hours/week on con-related tasks. During the more-busy part of the con year (March-May) this increases to 4-5 hours/week; exact time needed depends on how well-staffed the rest of the ConCom is.

Presence at con: Required. At least one Co-Chair is “on duty” at all times during the con.

Term: One year, starting in July.

Role summary: The role of the Co-Chairs is to work together to provide high-level management over other ConCom departments to ensure that WisCon takes place. The Co-Chairs generally keep track of which departments are more or less active and what major tasks need to be done at any given time. The Co-Chairs also help Departments coordinate with each other (especially  if members of one department don’t realize something they want to do will impact another department). Co-Chairs also run the Guest of Honor selection process for the following WisCon (details below), and analyze the prior WisCon’s feedback survey results. The Co-Chairs interface with the SF3 Board primarily through monthly reports.

At the end of the day, if a task doesn’t have anyone working on it, Co-Chairs must decide whether to complete the task themselves, delegate it to someone else, or decide the task will be left undone.

Main Tasks:
  • Running ConCom Meetings. This includes setting the dates and reminders, setting the agenda, collecting reports in advance of each meeting, presiding over the meetings themselves, and making sure minutes are published afterwards.
  • Tracking Responsiveness/Reports.  A large part of the job is keeping track of who hasn’t reported in for a while and what emails are going unanswered to make sure everyone’s on track and to keep morale up. If someone isn’t responding to emails about once a week or so, the Co-Chairs reach out to them, and if they get no response, notify Personnel, who makes a determination on how to proceed. If a role is to be listed again, it should be taken to a ConCom meeting for a discussion, any suggested/agreed-upon modifications made, and then posted.
  • Tracking Departmental Coordination. If a Department has a question that can be answered by another Department, or is proposing changes that may impact another department, Co-Chairs must help connect the relevant Departments to each other as needed. Sometimes Departments know who to ask or realize which other Departments are involved with a task, and sometimes they don’t.
  • Making Judgement Calls on Events/Roles to Keep/Drop. Sometimes it is not possible to fill a role before the con. There’s a limited number of things that can just be cut, but Co-Chairs must also weigh whether events will keep happening at future cons if they are not formally run at a present con. Co-Chairs have to determine what tasks absolutely have to be done.
  • Being On-Call During the Con. There is a chair cell phone that can be used to contact the chairs anytime during the con. Most of the calls will come from the hotel. Chairs can choose how to split up the times of being responsible for the phone. Some chairs alternate days, others take specific shifts during each day — whatever works for the two of you.
  • Participating in Safety Processes. If someone wants “to talk to a manager,” co-chairs our our ultimate at-con managers. Co-chairs may also be involved in judgment calls about Safety issues (such as potentially banning someone, asking them to leave, etc.).
  • Running Guest of Honor Selection Process. The chairs are responsible for selecting a GOH Vetting Committee and making sure the GOH nomination and voting process is executed according to schedule. This involves collating the GOH suggestions and putting together bios for the candidates, making sure the surveys get run, and contacting the top finalists to invite them (for which there are templates).
  • Answering Questions. The Co-Chairs may receive a wide number of questions (both from inside and outside the ConCom/SF3), and they must either answer the questions directly or help forward the question to the person/department who might be able to answer. It’s not uncommon for people to write basically asking to be invited in an “official” capacity. We have an email template for responding to that.
  • Analyzing Prior WisCon Feedback Survey Results. Co-Chairs are in charge of analyzing the post-WisCon survey results from the con before theirs. This may involve working with other departments to implement changes based on the feedback received.
  • Manage tasks that don’t belong to any other department or that have slipped through the cracks between two departments. This includes supervising printing of standard-sized materials and contacting previous year’s lifeguard and child care team to see if they are interested in working again this year.
  • Interfacing with the SF3 Board. 
Skills & experience:
All Co-Chairs Should Have:
  • Task management and delegation skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Excellent one-on-one communication skills (for communicating with other co-chairs)
  • Time and ability to check email and Basecamp on a frequent basis
At Least One Co-Chair Should Have:
  • Some degree of comfort with public speaking in front of large audiences
  • Excellent written communications / public relations skills
  • Ability to lead meetings effectively, including making sure everyone gets heard, covering an agenda, and sticking to a time limit.
  • Ability to take notes during meetings (these do not have to themselves be minutes-quality, just enough to write the minutes later).
  • Prior ConCom experience of at least one year preferred
Exclusions:
  • Co-Chairs should not also be chairing/leading any other departments/teams within WisCon or chairing any other cons
  • Co-Chairs should not co-chair two WisCons in a row
If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know by email to chair@wiscon.net!

In-person attendance cap, Guest of Honor updates, and more

Hi all! We have a few major updates to share with you as we reach the end of March:

1. We are capping in-person memberships at 600 this year as a safety measure. Most years, our cap is 1,000, which is the maximum capacity of the hotel. At the last couple of in-person WisCons we’ve reached roughly 850 to 900 members.  To date, we have sold about 260 in-person memberships for WisCon 2022.

If you are planning to attend WisCon in person, we strongly encourage you to register ahead of time and book your hotel room as soon as you’re certain of your travel plans.  Discounted hotel room rates are available until April 26, 2022. We understand that planning travel during the pandemic is more complicated, but for the safety of all our members, we will need to stick to the 600-person cap and may not be able to sell tickets at the door this year. Remember you can always double-check your registration status and convert between online and in-person memberships!

Note that this cap does not affect online memberships! We have no plan to cap online memberships and are happy to welcome everyone who wants to attend virtually.

2. Regarding our Guests of Honor:

  • We’re thrilled to confirm that Sheree Renée Thomas will be attending WisCon 2022 in person and will also be available to participate in virtual programming.
  • Unfortunately, due to family commitments and the ongoing pandemic, neither Zen Cho nor Yoon Ha Lee will be able to participate either physically or virtually in WisCon 2022.
  • We have yet to receive confirmation whether Rebecca Roanhorse will be able to participate virtually (for the second time) or physically.
WisCon Guests of Honor are chosen by, and often from within, our own community, and we want to honor that choice by continuing to celebrate all of these amazing authors during WisCon 2022, just as we would if a Guest of Honor were suddenly sick and unable to attend.  Thank you for your understanding!
3. With the pandemic, things are definitely different for WisCon this year: we’re having to make major changes both in response to the disease and in response to the limited time and energy volunteers have to run events. Here are a few updates:
  • The People of Color Dinner (organized by the Carl Brandon Society) is cancelled.
  • All of our Safer Spaces will be operating online only (the Safer Space for People of Color, the Safer Space for Trans & Genderqueer People, and the Disability Safer Space).
  • We will not be serving meals in the Con Suite; we’re working on safer alternatives assuming we can get the volunteer power to do so (see below). We will have Grab & Go!
  • The Vid Party will be running both physically and virtually this year!
  • We will be having a Gathering (activities to be determined based on COVID-19 safety).
  • We’ll have at least one Guest of Honor speech. The Dessert Salon is likely to be very different due to safety concerns. We’re still working out what that will look like with the hotel, so more updates to come.
  • If you don’t see your favorite event listed here: We’re still sorting out a lot of details, and we’ll give more updates as soon as we can.
4. We still have some significant volunteer positions that need to be filled. We’re at the point now where if we don’t get volunteers, we’ll have to start making cuts to what WisCon can offer.
  • We’re looking for more members for our new COVID-19 Safety department.
  • We need a Lead for Con Suite so that we can have robust alternatives to our usual dining room.
  • We need at least one more Kids’ Programs Lead by the end of this month or we’ll have to cancel Kids Programs for this year.
More updates on these and other opportunities coming soon! If any of these volunteer opportunities interest you, please complete our Volunteer Interest Survey as soon as you can. Questions? Email personnel@sf3.org.
We’ll continue to provide updates as the con approaches! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our email newsletter: It’s the best way to guarantee you don’t miss any announcements.

Souvenir Program Book Update; Volunteer Print Manager Needed

Because of the ongoing pandemic, this year’s WisCon is going to feel different from past years, which is probably no surprise to anyone. One of the changes for 2022 is that the ConCom has decided not to print the Souvenir Program book: it requires a lot of volunteer time and costs us a lot of money to produce.  It’s rough not to have a  book this year, but we need to save our energy and funds for other aspects of the con.

We’re working to make sure that the information members need in the printed book will be available in other ways, including online and through more basic printed materials.

This means that we urgently need a Print Manager! This is a volunteer position that’s a project manager to oversee the creation and printing of the materials we’ll need for this con. This person will coordinate with Departments (to gain what information needs to be printed), with volunteers on the Communications committee (to lay out documents), and with printers (submitting orders & pickup).  Prior experience with printing is helpful but not required: this is mostly a communication and logistics type of role.

More details below! If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to personnel@sf3.org as soon as possible and mention the Print Manager role.


Role Title: Print Manager

Department/Team: Communications

Reports to: Communications Co-Chairs

Time Requirements: 1-2 hours per week between March and mid-May (rough guess, since this is a new role!)

Presence at con: Beneficial (if unable to attend in person, will need to coordinate logistics for any print jobs that need to be picked up)

Term: One year

Role summary: The Print Manager oversees the creation and printing of any printed materials needed at WisCon. This person coordinates with Departments (to gain what information needs to be printed), with volunteers in Comms (to lay out documents), and with printers (submitting orders & pickup). We aren’t planning to print a program book this year (WisCon 2022); instead, we have a number of other smaller print jobs that need project management.

Main Tasks:

Pre-con:

  • Working with the ConCom to determine the list of print jobs
  • Managing this list of jobs, including what their statuses and deadlines are
  • Seeking copy from Departments
  • Determining what print shop(s) we will use (obtaining quotes, selecting shop(s))
  • Providing copy and layout guidelines to Communications volunteers for layout
  • Asking Departments to proofread layouts
  • Submitting layout changes back to Communications layout volunteers
  • Finalizing layouts
  • Submitting layouts to print shop(s)
At-con:
  • Ensuring orders are delivered or picked up by the afternoon of Thursday, 5/26
Post-con:
  • Documenting what was done for future years
Skills & experience:
  • Project management (communicating with multiple involved parties, managing deadlines)
  • Strong communication skills (person is comfortable coordinating with multiple people)
  • Previous experience working with print materials helpful but not required
  • If no previous experience, willingness to learn about printing requirements and processes
Training requirements: This is a new position, so this person would be working closely with the Co-Chairs and Communications team to support them.
Interested? If this sounds like a fun fit for you, please send an email to personnel@sf3.org as soon as possible and mention the Print Manager role.