The World Fantasy Convention (WFC) is an annual gathering and reunion of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of light and dark fantasy art and literature. The number of attending memberships is currently limited to 950, excluding committee, staff, board, judges and guests and their spouses, and usually these sell out in advance of the start of the convention. The convention rotates locations and the WFC Board (Board) encourages bids in diverse locations that have not hosted the convention before.
Key events of the convention program are the World Fantasy Awards, presented at a banquet Sunday afternoon of each convention and the large Friday-evening Autograph Reception. All convention activities are included in the cost of a membership; however, the banquet meal is a separate fee, though access to the awards portion of the event is allowed to the general membership after the conclusion of the banquet meal.
Other key elements that help define convention character are the Dealers' Room and Art Show. The dealer’s room averages about 50 tables and is exclusive to art and literature merchandise, the vast majority of which is collectible and new publications. Another feature is a very high quality Art Show, which includes some works for sale as well as displays of art from the top published artists in the field. Entry into both venues is juried and should be requested well in advance of the convention and be of subject matter appropriate to the focus of the convention. The local convention committee reserves the right to exclude material which it deems inappropriate.
WFC focuses on the professional side of the genre and its appreciation, and does not include gaming or masquerades. Despite its location near Halloween on the calendar, few attendees wear costumes.
The convention program features many of the attending professionals. It's not unusual for members to include more than 200 published authors, 80 artists, 35 editors, and many of the rare book dealers in the field. Because of the wealth of individual experience appropriate for programming, spots in programming are generally limited in availability to one program panel and/or one reading, except for highlighted guests. This consideration may limit the ability to accommodate late registrants for programming.
Members come from all over the world, and the convention board strives to find appropriate sites around the world. For those interested in bidding on a future WFC, please read our information on bidding, as well as what's expected of a successful bidder in the operations of a World Fantasy Convention.
Bid requirements and convention expectations are living documents that are updated as technology and other conditions warrant. Potential bidders should make their interest known to World Fantasy Convention Board members prior to engaging in a formal bidding process to ensure they have the most up-to-date information. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The World Fantasy Convention Board (Board) grants a license to a convention committee to operate the convention under the World Fantasy Convention (WFC) name and to hold the World Fantasy Awards banquet. Each individual convention is financially independent of the Board and often has a local sensibility, but is obligated to uphold the standards of a WFC. Thus, the Board makes the final decision on the awarding of convention bids. To ensure the integrity of WFC as a “brand,” it is the Board’s prerogative to request additional information, clarifications or reworking of bids in order to make them awardable. Revised bids are not guaranteed acceptance. The Board has certain expectations in the operation of the convention to maintain its brand integrity. Thus, the Board may assign a Board member to serve as a liaison to a bidder and/or successfully bid convention to help guide committees through the process to ensure conventions that adhere to the spirit and practices of the WFC. Potential bidders, be advised that awards may not be made immediately; despite pressure from prospective hotels to commit, the Board often needs to deliberate revisions prior to making a decision.
WFC prides itself on the things that distinguish it from other conventions. The only way to truly understand how WFC is set apart from other conventions is through attending WFC. The Board will be unlikely to give serious consideration to bids from prospective chairs who have never attended WFC prior to their bid and with no depth of experience with WFC and convention running in their committees. Those who intend to bid a convention or participate as heads of major departments (such as Dealers Room, Programming, etc.) should not only gain experience with WFC before assembling a bid, but also come to the open portion of a Board meeting (held on Friday and Sunday mornings of each convention) to gain a better sense of Board expectations from bidders and convention committees.
A committee planning to bid should let the Board know as soon as possible so a liaison can be appointed, if warranted, to advise on bid development.
The formal bid should be presented in writing to the Board in the months before, but at least a minimum of three weeks in advance, of the convention hosting the bidding. Contact email@example.com for addresses for materials that require mailing. A pdf of the bid packet, including URLs to proposed hotel sites, should be emailed to the board (Board policy 2015). These documents can be sent to the Board at the email address above for submission to the Board’s web files.
The bidding chair(s) of the convention are required to officially present their bid in person and be prepared to answer questions during the open portion of the Friday board meeting. The Friday board meeting of each convention is devoted to the review of future WFC bids. Bids are voted on in closed session during the Sunday meetings; a decision, if any, is announced at conclusion of the meeting. Be advised: the Board may request clarification or additional information before making a decision. This information may be difficult to obtain during the weekend of the convention, especially if it involves contacts with hotel staff. Bidders should consider the potential that a decision could be delayed beyond the conclusion of the convention.
The 2017 San Antonio bid package is an example of a successful bid that follows these guidelines.
The Bid Packet Should Include:
Bidders should be prepared to be flexible on years offered. While the committee may have a preferred year, it should ask venues to provide availability for an alternate year. The Board tries to prevent clustering of too many conventions in one region over time and may ask a bid to consider an alternative year to ensure variety. Bids are seldom awarded more than three years out. When bids are awarded more than two years in advance, the winning bid must wait before offering memberships for sale until after the banquet two years prior.
The convention is held on the weekends bracketing Halloween, which can be the last weekend in October or first weekend in November with some flexibility when Halloween falls on the weekend. Convention programming typically begins Thursday evening and concludes with the World Fantasy Awards banquet Sunday afternoon (often followed by a judge’s panel that discusses the awards).
The committee should prepare two to four possible themes for the convention and a few lines about each, considering the spectrum of the fantasy genre. It is best not to bid “centennial” themes, since those will be year-specific bids and limit flexibility. Themes should be general enough to be valid for a range of years. These themes should not include Guest of Honor proposals (the Board does not wish to make a bid contingent upon personalities, nor give offense to respected personalities in the process of inevitably rejecting some bids). Elaborate how the theme will tie in to program events and the convention site. For example, coastal locations built on nautical themes, or other pertinent local history. Please consult the convention history to see past themes.
The bid must include offer(s) or proposed contract(s) from all venues the bid committee intends to use, showing:
The convention board seeks locations that at a minimum provide deluxe accommodations in the main hotel. The following are minimum size recommendations for a facility (or combination of facilities) sufficient to host a WFC in North America (non-North American locations may have different requirements):
Please note that the Board has extensive experience with WFC and Board members can provide detailed guidance when it comes to function space logistics.
These requirements apply primarily to North American conventions. Non-North American conventions may have slightly different requirements.
The World Fantasy Program consists of two programming rooms and two rooms for readings. Additionally, space must be allocated to a Dealer’s Room and an Art Show. Signature elements of the World Fantasy Convention are the Autograph Reception on Friday evening, which takes up a significant amount of space, and the World Fantasy Awards Banquet on Sunday afternoon. Although not required, many conventions also host an Artists’ Reception in and outside of the Art Show. If a prospective convention plans to host an Artists’ Reception, it needs to take this into account in function space planning.
* Note: the Art Show size is a minimum suggestion. The Art Show may be larger if the amount and the quality of the art displayed justify a larger space. Some conventions have held an art reception in or near the Art Show space on Saturday night of the convention.
** Note: The Autograph Reception requires space for the actual signings (minimum of 180 seats, with 200 preferred) plus space for light hors d’oeuvres and snacks. Additional space should be allotted for the food set up, which is usually in the foyer or a pre-function space, but can be in the room if the conditions warrant. In these cases, a larger space will be required. If required by space considerations, some programming space may be used as part of the Autograph Reception as nothing is scheduled against it.
Other space considerations: storage space for book bags and other materials, offices, and registration. Bidders should also plan for space for assembling book bags prior to the start of the convention and may wish to allocate space for on-site shipping services.
The bid should identify which spaces would be designated for which functions and should remember that accessibility may be an issue for some members. Additionally, pre-function space can be used during the autographing, which is the largest space consumer.
The bid must include a list of its committee chair(s) and major department heads, including discussion of prior WFC participation and convention committee experience, and proposed committee and staff resources. An excellent way for potential bid committee members to quickly gain WFC experience is to volunteer in a major function area of a World Fantasy Convention prior to putting together a bid.
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