British Columbia

Northern B.C. comic and cosplay festival relying on early ticket sales to survive into 2020

A Prince George celebration of comics, movies and cosplay says it needs to sell $100,000 worth of tickets and convention packages in order to remain viable for 2020.

Prince George's Northern FanCon needs $100K to ensure viability, organizer says

Fans dressed in cosplay and costumes are a large part of the experience at Northern FanCon. (Christos Sagiorgis/Cvlt Studio)

A Prince George celebration of comics, movies and cosplay says it needs to sell $100,000 worth of tickets and convention packages in order to remain viable for 2020.

Northern FanCon is a three-day festival that brings fans face-to-face with people involved in film, comics and other "geek"-based culture, including celebrities ranging from William Shatner to actor and director Kevin Smith.

Now, the organizers behind the festival are trying to go it alone after five years of being underwritten by the Prince George Citizen newspaper.

"The idea was always that the Citizen would kind of keep us going until the point where I was able to take it on myself," FanCon creator Norm Coyne told CBC Daybreak North host Carolina de Ryk.

"We've reached a level where I have a really good rapport with the agencies; we've got a lot of profile. We've gone through two years of accessing grant funding ... It's time to let that little birdie fly."

Coyne is running a Kickstarter campaign to gauge whether there is enough community support to keep the festival going, with a deadline of Sept. 29.

Actor and director Kevin Smith and TV and comic book writer Marc Bernandin pose with Star Wars characters at the 2019 Northern FanCon in Prince George. (Christos Sagiorgis/Cvlt Studio)

Although it's billed as a fundraising campaign, Coyne said the money people put into the campaign gets them tickets, T-shirts or a booth at the festival, depending on their level of support.

"We're not asking for a handout," he said. "All we're asking people to do is pre-purchase their tickets at a discount and pre-purchase their booths at a discount. And that is what will make this thing move forward."

Asked what happens if he fails to meet the $100,000 goal, Coyne said he didn't want to entertain the idea.

"It is something that is so profound and significant for so many people, and I don't want to see it go away."

Career development, economic diversification

Aside from entertainment, there is also an economic development aspect to FanCon.

In 2017, the event received $20,000 from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training for "Creative Corner," a career fair for those interested in getting involved in B.C.'s creative sector, including workshops and Q&A sessions with industry experts.

In years since, Creative Corner has continued to grow with a focus on developing the local film industry.

The festival has also been recognized by the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Prince George, for attracting visitors to the city.

But Coyne said the most important aspect of FanCon is bringing a community of enthusiasts together.

"It's a very inclusive, empowering environment. And it's like nothing else."

As of Thursday Sept, 26, the Kickstarter campaign had received support from 158 backers and raised $47,982 or nearly 50 per cent of its goal.

Listen to the full interview by clicking on the play button below.

For five years, Norm Coyne has organized Northern FanCon, a three-day festival celebrating comics, cosplay, movies and more. But now he's trying to take the festival independent, and needs to sell $100,000 worth of tickets by Sunday to make it happen. 7:47
 

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About the Author

Andrew Kurjata

CBC Prince George | @akurjata

Andrew Kurjata is an award-winning journalist covering Northern British Columbia for CBC Radio and cbc.ca, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George. You can email him at andrew.kurjata@cbc.ca.

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