BiCon 13 was held at the University of Central England in Birmingham on the 1st-3rd September 1995. It was organised by Jon, Kay, Lizzie, Jon, Steve, Kate and Judes. It was residential and 226 people attended.
BiCon 13 was the first BiCon to speed up registration by using a computer database of registered participants on the registration desk. It was also the first* to make a four figure surplus rather than hundreds of pounds, something which the organisers' report is very defensive about. Nowadays BiCon has more reserves to draw on (and venues charge significant deposits) and the amount looks trivial. BiCon 13 also continued a trend of offering increasingly organised entertainment (a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and a party in a city-centre bar) rather than just providing a simple bar and disco – following on from BiCon 10's stand-up comedy show and 12's Ceilidh.
The Facts And Figures…
226 people registered. 90 people booked a room on the Thursday night (before the conference proper began), 154 on Friday night, 156 on Saturday night and 19 on Sunday night after the end of the conference. Thus the total number of rooms spent in nights (and breakfasts provided) was 419. 170 rooms had been booked, and charges for cleaning only were applied to the unused rooms. Only 12 people attended the conference for one day only, the other attendees mostly finding their own crash space (we have no idea where, oh no…).
Attendees brought around 50 cars. Three people requested wheelchair access, and a BSL signer was provided for one person (originally two, but one of them cancelled). Crèche facilities were provided for three children (originally five).
Approximately 64 workshops were held over the three days as well as the usual informal meetings, artistic endeavours, shopping trips, sessions in the bar etc. etc. The entertainments provided comprised a showing of Rocky Horror in the auditorium, a cabaret in the bar and a disco at a bar in the city centre.
The Financial Summary
|Registrations inc. B&B:||£10,051|
|Sale/Auction of T-shirts:||£80|
|Access Fund from Edinburgh Bi Group:||£220|
|Venue: B&B, security overtime:||£6,768|
|Venue: Seminar rooms, lecture theatre:||£1,159|
|Venue: Crèche for 3 days:||£264|
|Advertising via Bifrost:||£65|
|Materials (laminate etc.):||£74|
So you made a surplus?
Yes; with subsequent bank interest, now around £1,700.
1. We originally budgeted to break even on fairly pessimistic numbers of people turning up; more people turned up than we were counting on (though one week before the conference, things were looking worrying).
2. We budgeted for two BSL signers and only needed one; we also budgeted more for the crèche than we used. We felt we should give access a high priority.
3. At the last minute, we got much better deals than expected for entertainments, namely the facilities for showing Rocky Horror, the venue in the city centre (Peacocks) and the student union bar (which was on a minimum takings basis, and ended up being free).
What was all the fuss about fire engines and cleaning charges?
The venue, UCE, threatened us with all sorts of extra charges including an administration charge, a charge for afternoon catering (which we hadn't asked for), charges for extra cleaning and a charge for the fire engine call-out on Friday night (which was thought to be around £400). We were determined to resist these, but we wanted to avoid a lengthy legal battle if it came to that, so we asked for donations.
Of course, at the time we didn't know we were in a surplus situation; there wasn't time to update the budget during the week up to and including the conference, yet 25% of the attendees signed up that week (over £2,000 didn't reach our bank account until after the conference).
Had we paid all the charges they asked for, there would have been less than £100 surplus. But we did refuse to pay them, and UCE decided not to take us to court. We finally settled up with UCE in May this year.
Liaising with UCE for BiCon is one of the most stressful things I have ever done, and now I have hypertension. Perhaps I should sue them!
One final point is that among the list of complaints UCE sent us after BiCon was that 50% of the bins in the accommodation contained condoms, some not wrapped. Perhaps this gives us a clue where all those extra people who didn't book accommodation spent the night after all.
What will happen to the money?
We will take advice and suggestions on that at BiCon 14; it will certainly be put back into the UK bi community.
Jon Harley for the BiCon 13 Collective
* Looked at in one sense, The 9th National Bisexual Conference (i.e. what we'd now call BiCon 9) in 1991 made a similar surplus, thanks to three anonymous donations totalling £1,600. This money was given to the London bisexual phoneline so the actual accounts showed a loss of about £10.
It's possible that the donations were always intended to go to the phoneline, so shouldn't count as the event's money.