I fully admit I hadn’t heard a word about Anthro Northwest until I saw there ad on FA. But the more I looked into their brand new convention, the more I really wish them good luck. Because and this is on everyone’s mind, the disaster known as Rainfurrest. Frankly I can not give the people behind Anthro Northwest enough praise for not backing down from talking about a con that gives every con (and I am really not joking about this) nightmares. The reality of it, this is what everyone is thinking.
So in my own way I sent them a series of questions after asking them for an interview. Really I hope you like my questions as I thought they be the ones on everybody’s mind.
On a personal note I found the staff super friendly, and really I wish them the best.
Now I have seen all your videos on your YouTube channel and want to say excellent job. I thought the one explaining on how to get to the hotel from the airport was quite unique.
Now for the questions…
According to your video you say it all got started at BLFC, was it like gets get together and do a fur con or was there more to that?
There was actually quite a bit less to it. The seed of Anthro Northwest was planted at the 2016 Rainfurrest Christmas party when they announced there would be no RF 2017. It made the founder sad that such an amazing group of people couldn’t have their convention. Going up the elevator at BLFC on Saturday the founder was so inspired by the beauty, art and community present there, he decided that the community in Seattle deserved a convention, and set out to make one happen.
Does any one of the board of directors have had experience running large gatherings?
The board doesn’t really run Anthro Northwest in terms of day to day operation, we are structured a little differently than some of the more local fur conventions. The very important experience of running other conventions is present with many of the staff members who have worked at the big conventions and have a good feel on how to help things run smoothly. We also receive a lot of help from the well established conventions, the beautiful thing of being a member of the furry community is that we all work together to support each other. Tyco from BLFC, Uncle Kage from Anthrocon and Cheetah from MFF have all provided invaluable support. We would also like to thank several of the former Rainfurrest board members that helped us learn from their experience, and for the community that they helped grow here in the Pacific Northwest.
The board votes on big decisions, approves budgets, handles disciplinary actions, but the day to day business of the organization is mostly handled by the founder and the staff leads. Anthro Northwest is really built around the interests of our panelists, volunteers and community. We try very hard to accomidate the interests of our members and actively grow and change the convention so that they are enabled to share the best of what they have to offer.
Before finally choosing Seattle, weren’t you afraid that the location might have been tainted do to Rainfurrest? Was another city even considered?
Seattle has always been the target location. If it were possible to make it work, we were going to have it here. We had meetings with every suitable hotel in downtown and found two were a good fit. We found both locations extremely welcoming.
Given the disaster that Rainfurrest was, how and I mean all respect how did you convince the Renaissance your convention was good for the hotel? and what steps did you have to take to calm any and all fears?
There is perception that businesses in Seattle are concerned about anything to do with furry, and it is an accurate one. We have found that the business community in large part has lost the bond of trust that once was enjoyed between them and furry. We have been working very hard to help restore that bond of trust by bringing out the best that the community has to offer. For as damaging as the events that occurred at the last RF were to the trust relationship, we also find, that within the community so many exceptional individuals exist who represent the best that humanity has to offer. The businesses that we are working with are able to look into the heart of the community and see the beauty and potential that is present there.
The Marriott Hotel Chain which includes the Renaissance is very much a true supporter of diversity and the arts. They are dedicated to providing hospitality and have gone to great lengths to welcome us to their hotel. We are so thankful to have them as our venue partner. If we bring out our best, just like the 99% of fandom conventions that happen every year, it will help pave the way for more opportunities in the community.
I am curious how did you raise the capital to fund the convention?
The convention is approximately 98% funded privately by someone who loves the community very much.
Was finding a charity difficult?
Not too much difficulty, we put it out there on Twitter and someone suggested Sarvey Wildlife. They were a great fit and we are so delighted to be working with them. The community is so charity focused already, people seem to be in touch with a lot of fantastic organizations, the hard part is choosing just one.
Seriously what plans do you have in place to prevent bad behavior that plagued Rainfurrest? Will the staff be on hand to prevent and or stop any problems as they arise? The same with security?
We have a large, high quality staff and an organization that was built completely new from the ground up. We also have the support of F.L.A.R.E. who is sending around 20 people from California to help things run smoothly. F.L.A.R.E. is an amazing group of people that handle security and operations for well run conventions like BLFC and FC. In their combined experience they have dealt with just about every situation imaginable.
A tremendous amount of planning occurred to ensure that we put on a high quality event that is comfortable for members of the community, the non-attending hotel guests and the business community.
I remember hearing on the news of how some panels were actually serving alcohol to minors. What rules will these panels must follow and will they be double checked to make sure they are followed?
Anthro Northwest is a PG rated family event. We don’t have a liquor license and don’t serve alcohol. Liquor is available for responsible consumption in the hotel bar from licensed hotel staff.
What are your future plans for Anthro Northwest, what will you like to see happen?
It really depends where the community takes us. We are prepared to accomidate traditional growth patterns for 2018, and exceptional growth starting in 2019 if that is where things are headed. For 2018 we are adding on another floor to the hotel and would like to have an art gallery, artists’ alley and perhaps an interactive gaming room or some more interactive activities. We would like to continue to offer unusual panels and events that aren’t found elsewhere. We would also like to see more anthropomorphic fine art classes – painting, sculpting, those sorts of things.
In 2019 things will change a lot….but we can’t talk about that just yet.
Our measure of success is the answer to this question:
“Have our attendees experience the beauty and love found in the community?”
If yes, then then we have achieved success . We believe that when we focus on our core goals, the necessary ingredients like funding, good behavior, attendance and so fourth will happen as a byproduct of the expression of those goals.
How many guests do you expect to get? What will they actually get to see?
It’s so hard to predict attendance for a first year con. We are guessing anywhere from 500 to 950. We should have pretty good visibility in 3 weeks. Our full program is posted online at http://www.anthronw.com – just click the program link. You’ll see the normal things you are used to seeing at a fandom convention like this, with an expanded focus on art and humanities.