Minutes from the BiCon Decision-Making Meeting 2016

Attendance: 59 plus chair

1. Welcome and Introduction – Fred Langridge chaired this meeting.

If anyone is interested in chairing future BiCon decision-making meetings, please contact Fred. Ideally several people could be a pool of potential chairs.

2. Jen Yockney, MBE

Marcus Morgan addressed the meeting: "There are very few people in the bisexual community itself – we are the tip of an iceberg; people who are out bisexuals. Then there are people within that who feel they have permission to go out and get things done. There's a smaller number within that of people who've been getting things done, effectively, year on year. Then there's a smaller number within that of people who've been working tirelessly for the bisexual community year on year on year and have got any recognition for that outside the bisexual community.

"Something fantastic happened this year: for the first time, the UK honours system recognised somebody for their work for the bisexual community. Friends, I would like this decision-making meeting to join me in recognising the work, achievements and honours of Mx Jen Yockney, MBE".

Jen Yockney was awarded an MBE earlier this year for services to the bisexual community – the first such award made on this basis in the UK (and the first 'Mx' on the honours list). The meeting welcomed this news with a standing ovation for Jen. Jen expressed her thanks.

3. Previous minutes

The minutes from last year's decision-making plenary were agreed by a majority of those present as a true record of the meeting.

4. Report from BiCon 2015

Natalya reported on behalf of the 2015 team. Over 400 people attended BiCon 2015 in Nottingham. BiCon 2015 made a surplus; the accounts are still being finalised and will be given to BiCon Continuity Ltd.

BiCon 2015 received a donation from Stonewall as an unrestricted contribution to the hardship fund. This was used to provide, for the first time, an extra access fund for four groups who are under-represented at BiCon and for whom finance can be a barrier: people who self-identify as working class, people of colour, people under the age of 21, people over the age of 55. This reduced the cost of BiCon for about fifteen people to between £5 and £15 (£5 per night; no contribution to travel costs). Part of the intention was to mitigate the possible risks around coming to BiCon. This initiative was very successful and some who used it have returned this year. Natalya expressed her thanks to Stonewall on behalf of the team.

5. Future BiCons

2017: Elizabeth addressed the meeting on behalf of BiCon Continuity Ltd. BiCon 2017 has a potential venue in Leeds, and needs more team members to make it happen. Roles are currently open, including: liaising with a venue; organising accounts; arranging entertainments; pulling it all together. Please contact BiCon Continuity (info@biconcontinuity.org.uk) if you are interested in helping.

2018: BiCon Continuity Ltd trustees are talking to potential organisers, especially Katie. BiCon 2018 is likely to be in Manchester.

2019: Claire has expressed interest in putting together a team to organise BiCon 2019, possibly in Lancaster. The meeting welcomed this expression of interest and asks Claire and BiCon Continuity Ltd to discuss this.

It was noted that many of the most affordable venues are in the north-west of England.

BiCon Continuity Ltd would like to hear financially-viable proposals for BiCons in the south of the UK. Volunteers would also be welcome to help phone round potential venues to build up an information bank: please contact info@biconcontinuity.org.uk.

6. Changes to the BiCon Organisers' Guidelines

All Guideline changes must be approved by two consecutive years' BiCons, and should be brought to the pre-decision-making meeting session for discussion.

a. Pending changes passed last year

1. add to guideline B17 about smoking: ' – this includes electronic cigarettes or similar devices.'

2. add to guideline B17 about smoking: 'BiCon teams should make efforts to ensure that smoking areas exist and are accessible to those who wish to use them.'

These changes were passed by this year's meeting (56 in favour; 3 abstentions) so guideline B17 will now read: 'All outdoor space at BiCon, with the exception of designated smokers' areas, will be non-smoking – this includes electronic cigarettes or similar devices. Smoking areas should be advertised clearly. BiCon teams should make efforts to ensure that smoking areas exist and are accessible to those who wish to use them.'

b. New proposed guideline change

Add to guideline B2:

(at the end of the first sentence:) "…and a code of conduct."

(at the end of the paragraph:) "…and a system for passing a conduct report to the next year's team."

These changes were approved by this year's meeting and will come to 2017 for a second vote. If they are approved for a second time, guideline B2 will read:

'BiCon should have published policies which include anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and confidentiality, and a code of conduct. People who consistently or seriously breach these policies – for example by harassing others, or any reason, including sexually or on the grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or sexuality, or by breaching another attendee's confidentiality – should be required to leave and may be banned from future BiCons. BiCon should have a system in place to allow people to report harassment, discrimination and other incidents anonymously and a system for passing a conduct report to the next year's team.'

7. BiCon Continuity Ltd report

BiCon Continuity Ltd gave a report. There is still money. The charity has supported BiCon teams and continuity. It has also financially supported Purple Prose (a book by, for and about bisexuals in the UK), a couple of BiFests and some work around public liability insurance for Pride-going groups.

The charity has also put procedures and practices in place, and is now in a position to say that it could do more with more trustees and with more members of the company.

There are five trustees at present. One has resigned this year and the remaining trustees thank previous trustees for their work. More trustees and members of BiCon Continuity Ltd would be welcome (up to a possible nine trustees and 25 members).

New trustees would need to be comfortable with communicating by email, and who are committed to BiCon happening, love the space and understand that others love it for different reasons. Trustees are legally responsible for the charity and their legal names are sent to Companies House and the Charity Commission.

Skills that would be particularly useful in new trustees include: communications; charity law; doing accounts; grant-writing and fund-raising; enthusiasm and links with other communities; commitment to continuity.

A call for expressions of interest will be published in the next couple of months.

The meeting thanked the trustees for their work.

8. Training update

Last year's BiCon DMP approved a proposal for some training for future BiCon organisers. This has not yet happened but is still work in progress and will happen in the future. If you want to help, please contact David Matthewman (david@matthewman.org), who will put you in touch with the organiser.

9. Working with BECAUSE

Calum spoke to the meeting about a proposal to arrange an exchange between BiCon and BECAUSE, a bi convention that takes place in Minneapolis, USA and has been running for 25 years (second in longevity only to BiCon UK). Calum feels that the two events could usefully learn from each other, as each has strengths and weaknesses.

Calum proposed that BiCon could give two free places to future BECAUSE organisers and BECAUSE could give two free places to future BiCon organisers.

The meeting welcomed this proposal and asked Calum to take it forward with BiCon Continuity Ltd and BECAUSE. Approved: 58 in favour; one abstention.

10. Other business

The meeting welcomed and applauded the publication of Purple Prose, a book by, for and about bisexuals in the UK, edited by Kate Harrad.