Almost every year around this time I make a post covering Animethon, an anime convention that takes place in Edmonton, Canada. It is the oldest anime convention in the country as well as one of the largest. As such, expectations for the event are high and there is always lots to see and do. I’ve been going to Animethon as an attendee since my days in high school, starting with Animethon 11. I’ve enjoyed it every year, which is why I keep going back. The difference this year is that I have returned as a staff member rather than an attendee. After 8 years of attending, I was the only one of my friends who had never volunteered for the event and the only one that still goes every year so I figured it was about time to give something back.
Like with any organization, I started at the bottom of the ladder sometime in late January/early February. My first task? write a description for an anime that was being shown at A Taste of Animethon 2012. Over the next few months I worked on various other items including video lists, guidebook content, advertising opportunities, press contact information, documentation, etc. By midsummer I had worked my way up to an executive position on the Animethon 19 committee and a spot on the board of directors of the Alberta Society for Asian Popular Arts (ASAPA), the non-profit organization that owns Animethon.
If you attended Animethon 19 this year you’ve probably already heard the news, but those of you who haven’t, Animethon will be shelved unless enough people step up to help run the next event. More details can be found on the Animethon website. I think the fact that I moved from the bottom of the ladder to an executive position in a matter of months is a testament to how desperate Animethon is for more qualified people. I encourage anyone with management skills to apply for a staff position.
I’ve heard a lot of people ask what exactly Animethon needs to keep running. We need people to be willing to work year-round in preparation for the event (I am still working even though the event is over). There are plenty of volunteers during the Animethon weekend, but staff members to help plan the programming/events, promote Animethon, manage human resources, work and negotiate with Grant MacEwan University, prepare equipment and supplies, track finances and cash flow, write up contracts and legal documents, communicate with industry representatives, and much more are currently lacking. A high level of professionalism is required for all of these positions.
From my experience, the amount of work involved depends on your position and how many people you have to help out. Some positions can spend as little as 1 hour per week, while others may need 40 hours per week to get things done. I am amazed at how much work some of the executives and directors put into Animethon. Last year I mentioned how impressed I was with the staff running the event, and now that I have seen how they do it first-hand, I am even more impressed.
What also impressed me was seeing how well the staff that showed up just before or during the convention did their jobs. I had not met most of them prior to the event, but they all did a wonderful job. I received several reports, including: missing/stolen items, lewd acts, illegal weapons, contraband, and medical emergencies. Thankfully a few were false reports and the staff were able to handle everything. The unfortunate thing is that it seems working 18 hours/day during the convention seems to be the norm. Keep in mind that Animethon actually starts on Thursday for the staff and some dedicated mods/volunteers, so that’s 4 continuous days. I applaud their work and I sincerely hope that enough qualified people submit their resumes for next year so that no one has to work for 18 hours straight.
Spending the last 7-8 months working behind the scenes and seeing everything run during Animethon was certainly an eye-opener for me and now I can appreciate the amount of work that goes into putting on a convention. Everyone helping out is doing it to keep the anime community alive. Other than a few slices of pizza and a dinner, there is no compensation for their work; any money made (if at all) is used to put on next year’s event. Unlike other conventions with corporate backing and executives that are more interested in your wallet than anime, Animethon is a convention by fans for fans. If you live in Alberta, please help keep it alive by attending the recruitment meeting on September 29th at 1pm at Grant MacEwan University. This is your chance to make a difference and show that the anime community is alive and well.
Note: my actual convention post will come later.