Bridging the financial gap

The recent guest post from Australia which bemoaned the lack of Sherlock Fandom organisation down-under got me thinking…is the gap that appears to exist between Fandom and traditional societies financial as much as cultural?

In so many ways, traditional groups and Fandom groups operate similarly. They both communicate on line (although the latter clearly do so more) and both groups have organised physical gatherings (see those arranged by The Baker Street Babes for example). Yet, despite a similar MO, we get a cri-du-coeur from Australian Fandom to the effect that nothing much is going on for them.

Take this quote from the post:

...we Sherlockians in Australia must survive on breadcrumbs.....
....(namely: a late TV premiere, a couple of Holmesian societies – for paying members – and a TV advertisement prior to each new season). It would be the understatement of the fandom to say that the BBC Sherlock presence in Australia – and the Sherlockian presence in general – is small.

I tend to agree with one commentator who took issue with the fact that paying to be a member of a Holmesian society was presented as something exclusive and perhaps even too establishment (and hence undesirable). The strong impression was that paying for membership was unpalatable to Fandom (well some of those belonging to it at any rate).

I think this is a significant problem. Societies cannot survive on enthusiasm they require subscriptions and this isn't going to change any time soon. The apparent distaste for this approach that comes from some elements of Fandom must, I believe, have its roots in the social media model. The new generation of fans is used to things happening without cost...well "up front" cost.

Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and others all provide their services free on the understanding that their users will allow themselves to become the tool’s asset. This means that the user, however grudgingly, agrees to be targeted with adverts etc. in order that the tool can generate revenue. 

This however cannot work for regular societies. This model has its on-going costs and these have to be met through subscriptions. Now if you don't wish to go down this route - fair enough - but don't say there is nothing for you when you choose to close the door on a perfectly good option on the grounds that you don't like the idea of paying for it.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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  1. I do agree with you for the most part.
    It is possible for a 'regular' society to survive without much cost. Now more than any other time. Where most cost in the past, membership fees if you like, went to newsletters and postage, the modern societies can for the most part do without those costs. Sure if you are meeting at a restaurant or something there is the price of eating and drinking to cover the cost of the meeting place.
    Most regular societies exist and are run by people who have tried to keep things going for a very long time and don't always, the key word always, embrace change need to keep going or to seem as viable.
    But then again, when the surge we are going through now dies down, who will still be around?
    While a 'membership' may feel 'establishment', most societies only charge enough to cover costs. Some do charge more or require more to be members, thus making themselves seem elitist.
    On line societies make it too easy for 'members' to come and go without any commitment. commitment needed to keep things going for a long period of time.
    It is a shame that monthly gatherings are losing their vogue, but such it the times.
    I enjoy the online groups, but sure do enjoy discussing Holmes with like minded people over a pint.
    Most Sherlockain gathering of any large nature are going to require an established group to pull them, even if the group does not consider itself established.


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