Remember when you could volunteer for something by simply donating your time for no pay. Well, it seems Square Egg Entertainment, the parent company of the Phoenix Comicon, believes that potential volunteers should be fronting $20 for the possibility of being selected to be a volunteer for their annual convention. Seem a bit weird to you? Well, it should.
The convention has partnered up with a fan club-turned-social group, Blue Ribbon Army. What does that mean? It means that if you wish to be a potential volunteer for the con, you need to be a paid member of Blue Ribbon Army. Memberships start at $20 per year and the membership does not guarantee you a spot as a volunteer.
Phoenix Comicon’s organization had laid off three directors, including someone that has been with the organization since 2007, as part of the change. According to Matthew Solberg, convention director of Phoenix Comicon, told staffers in an email that the new system will prevent the existing volunteers that simply coming in and grab their badges without doing any of the work. According to Solberg, the only way to prevent this is by ditching the “existing structure.”
The popularity of the convention has grown since it began back in 2002 with about 400 people and it only cost you $3 to get in. It strikes some as strange to make volunteers to pay to possibly be a candidate to volunteer for the event. In contrast, the world-famous San Diego Comic Con still has volunteers for the event and they do not require potential volunteers to pay for the opportunity.
Kristin Rowan told IO9 that current staff members can apply for the jobs before joining Blue Ribbon Army, with top priority, but they will still need to pay the membership fee before actually getting the jobs. Yet, they will know that they are getting a position rather than normal people who apply in hopes of being asked.
There is always a risk of getting volunteers that are only interested in the fringe benefits, rather than doing the work. However, when you have more than half a million people that run through San Diego and they still do not require paid admission for the privilege. It isn’t completely unheard of but this will be interesting to see how it plays out in the end.