Less official guidelines

Running a BiCon can be hugely rewarding or an utter nightmare. Your chances of wanting to do it again will be improved if you follow a few simple rules. We'd say that they are more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules, except that there are already some official Guidelines

What is a BiCon?

Those Guidelines have something to say about that, but a short version is that it's a community-led, accessible event 'about' bisexuality for bisexual people and their allies. Even if they were all about bisexuality, an event that was a series of expert panels would not be a BiCon, for example. In the UK, it's now usually a three (or more) day event. We tend to call one day events 'BiFests' to make the distinction between the two, but much of the same advice applies.

Why run one?

It has been said that it's impossible to fully appreciate the bisexual community until you do and some people find it very satisfying: BiCon has changed their lives and they want to have it so it can do the same for others, for example. You do need a reason, but one important bit of advice is don't do it for yourself. Amongst other things, in the year you run it, you don't really get 'a BiCon'. Instead, next time you can enjoy yourself knowing that you're not the one worrying about everything.

Who to have running it?

One year, one person had advice from a small team, but did virtually all of it themselves. Everyone else who's ever done one wonders how (and they never did it that way again!) So you need a team, but how that team is organised is up to you.

Some years have a single leader, some split that role between two or more people, and some are collectives. Which ever you choose, you need to know who takes the final decision on any issue, preferably before there are any big decisions.

How to do it?

Think of BiCon as a cake for a second. The recipe is very simple:

Venue + Attendees + Culture = BiCon

You need a venue, and you need attendees. Once you have them at your venue, behaving nicely, you have a BiCon.

In the UK, it can be easy to take the culture for granted. A large chunk of your attendees will have been to a BiCon before and know how they should behave, and know that they can tell you if someone is not doing so. Partly because it started small and many of the attendees came from a long-running bisexual group, much of that culture has been there from the start… but not all. Things have changed over the years as awareness has increased.

If you're starting a series of events from scratch, it's a bit harder.

But either way, you want to have a set of guidelines – in the UK, we call that the 'Code of Conduct' – and be seen to enforce them. The number of issues brought to your attention will probably be rather less than most events of a similar size, but if nothing is, people probably don't think they can do so.

Everything else is icing on that cake.

Only you will know how much icing there could have been at your BiCon

It is very easy to run out of spoons. Not everything you would have ideally liked to have happened will be possible. Don't spend BiCon going 'Wah, there could have been even more icing on my BiCon cake!!' If you have got the basic recipe right, everyone else is going 'Oooh, BiCon cake! With icing!!' and not really caring that there could have been more of it.

AVAC – "all venues are compromises"

Your job, as someone running a BiCon, is to pick one set of compromises. The ideal venue doesn't exist, so trying to reach for perfection in a venue is futile and you will have to make some somewhere: location, facilities, cost etc etc.

You need to be aware of the compromises that recent teams have made. It can be fine to have the accommodation on top of a hill away from the venue for one year (especially if you do something about it, like arrange for some transport up and down it) but if there were physical access issues last year then it is probably more important not to have them next year. Fortunately, different organisers tend to prioritise different things anyway.

Do not run a BiCon for yourself

As has been said, you need people to come to your BiCon. Not all of them will be like you. In many ways, most of them won't be. They don't all live online where you do. They like different things. Some BiCon attendees attend every session they can, others go to none of them. Some like the music or other entertainment you like, others do not.

If you are happy with everything at your BiCon, you've very probably missed something important out. If all your team like the same things, you're very probably going to miss something important out. If you are not promoting BiCon somewhere you've never been to, you are failing to reach everyone who would be interested in coming.

You will at some point go 'Argh!'

Everyone does. Even the people who have done lots of them. It may be that the venue you'd like wants to charge extra to use the kitchens in the accommodation. Or fewer people are registering than you'd like. Or you are caught in a blizzard of some of the community's special snowflakes making more or less unreasonable demands.

Get some support. The people who have done it before are best. You don't have to tell them the whole details of why something is a problem – sometimes just saying 'spoons' will be enough.

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