Sunday, 7 September 2008

BiCon Ltd

BiMedia.Org reports:
Following debate at the Decision Making Plenary of BiCon 2008, the organisation will be formalising its existence with limited company status. The decision was carried overwhelmingly by the conference and further details of the plans will be published in the UK bi community journal of record, BCN.
I think it might actually have been unanimous, that vote.

To shed a little light on it as a past BiCon runner: I think this is a damn good thing.

To shed a little more light on it: since approximately forever, any surplus made by one BiCon is handed on to the next team. This has meant that since the late 90s every incoming team has had some initial funding which they could use for publicity, venue deposits, meetings costs or what have you. Some BiCons run at a profit, some at a loss, but overall we have always had a little bit left in the kitty. Or sometimes a great big bit - £13,000 at one point I think.

This is great and means that for instance people on JSA can get involved in running a BiCon despite not being able to commit financially to it.

However it has also depended on a lot of luck. No-one has ever done a runner with the money, and no-one has run a BiCon that went so badly wrong that they wound up in debtor's jail after getting their sums horribly wrong or deciding to spend the past surplus on an enormous amount of cake. Either of those things could happen - and I stress I am not thinking of any BiCon organiser or potential organiser when I say that! If it did, we as a community wouldn't have any kind of come-back or recourse. We give organisers the money and trust them to behave. If they don't... well, we wouldn't talk to them any more. For some people that might be worth the £13,000.

A pair of limited companies on the other hand gives us some extra hands on the BiCon purse strings, and some protection for the assets built up over the years should things go badly wrong.

So by setting up as limited companies with boards running them we diffuse both the liability if it all goes wrong, and the opportunity to run off with the cash. It is a brilliant idea, and one which I particularly like since - as editor of the free fair and independent bi press - in order to protect BCN's editorial independence I really cannot be nobbled into becoming part of the Board for.