It’s been announced that the Home and Garden Expo will be moving to September this year – the announcement appeared yesterday on the website:
Due to some unforeseeable circumstances and misunderstandings, the staff of the 7th Annual Second Life Home and Garden Expo deems it prudent to reschedule the event.
It’s very clear from the announcement that this decision was undertaken only with the utmost reluctance by Kat Alderson, the very hard-working organiser of the event, and it’s brave of her to have made such a radical decision, which won’t come without costs.
We had decided to be a Platinum Sponsor for this event (as we have been for the past five years), and we have confirmed our sponsorship of the September event.
I would be interested to hear what readers of this blog feel about this change. Speaking personally, I can see advantages and disadvantages.
1) The “Event Season” is very overcrowded. Starting (well, from my perspective) with One Billion Rising in February, we move to the Start-Up for Relay for Life, Fashion for Life, the Home Show, the Fantasy Faire, the Home and Garden Expo, the Breedables Fair, Halfway There Fair, Paint SL Purple, Second Life Birthday, Relay for Life Weekend and the Hair Fair – and that takes us to the end of July. That’s six months and twelve major events, some lasting ten days to two weeks.
Add in smaller Fairs and Expos, regular but popular events like the Gatcha and Collaborate (I can never remember the damn spelling) to say nothing of all the team events by which the 200+ RFL teams raise their contributions, and that’s a pretty over0crowded six months not just for attendees but for creators. And for most of those creatives, they are juggling keeping businesses going and balancing real lives as well (summer exams anyone?).
So moving a major event (a mega-event) to outside this crowded season on one level makes a lot of sense.
2) This is going to be problematic for a lot of creators. I know some had long term plans for the Home and Garden Expo (in one case, 18 months of planning a very major new release!). The Home and Garden Expo has become seen as the place to launch new products. It’s not just the attendees – it’s also a great opportunity for creatives to meet each other, to share ideas, to discuss plans. And to say a quiet but very smug, “Ta Da!” as they raise the curtian on their latest gorgeous project.
How will a delay affect them? To put back a planned release by four months could stack up to a lot of lost revenue. Or it could be a bonus – some extra time for tweaking.
For creatives looking to release sooner than September, an alternative might be something like the commercial Home Show. But this may be too limited for some of the grander launches that would fit better with the Expo – unless the Home Show itself expanded.
For the Home and Garden Expo is perhaps unique among the mega-events in that Home and Garden creators will often be working on large-scale projects that can take several months to complete. These may not be their only releases during this time, but they will probably be the most important.
It would certainly be a shame if the Home and Garden Expo lost its reputation as the annual event at which to launch major new projects. At all events, this might be the case this year but – if September becomes a new month for the Expo, the ever-flexible creatives will doubtless adapt – just look at the way they have survived myriad changes from the Lab. But I suspect that the thing that is going to decide this is certainty. If September does become the new month for the Expo, then designers can factor that into their planning. If it becomes a moveable feast … less so.
3) I think there could be inherent problems with siting an RFL event outside the conventional RFL season.
In the past, the theory has been that there is a five month RFL season stretching from mid-February to mid-July. Outside that, people have a chance to rest, relax and rebuild energies. Over the last few years, there has also been the Christmas Expo. By and large, that has attracted enthusiastic support. It filled a void left by Linden Lab’s decision not to continue with Winterfair, and it was the occasion for events that have become increasingly popular in themselves – such as the Avi Choice Awards and the Race for the Bells.
Is setting a second mega event outside the Relay for Life Season going to prove detrimental to the cause that RFL is supporting?
Cancer is an issue that touches all of us. Finding not just “a cure for cancer” but cures – and prevention – for the full spectrum of diseases that are given the name of cancer is one of the core issues of our time. Alleviating the suffering that cancer causes – both to people diagnosed with one of the diseases and the people who support, care for and love them – is a vitally important task.
But RFL is raising money for one nationally-based cancer charity (the American Cancer Society). It is not news that people have expressed concerns about the dominant role it plays in fundraising on the grid – although on the flipside it is a very positive demonstration of what virtual worlds can achieve. Let’s just say that the whole issue is not without controversy.
And, of course, there are other people fundraising too who might feel – well, a little squashed by the RFL juggernaut. There are, after all, other people fundraising for different causes -a huge number of causes. There are also other people fundraising for different cancer charities, such as the Boobiethon held every October. To take a personal example, Dousa Dragonash and I both organised events in support of the British cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support last September – with our own virtual versions of the Macmillan Coffee Morning.
So will this further expansion of the RFL season be seen positively or negatively by the grid inhabitants? Or are they less interested in the cause than the event itself? Could you (for example) tell me without googling which charities are supported by the Hair Fair, Shoetopia and the Boobiethon? Does it, in the end, make little difference as long as some good cause is supported – or even if it’s a completely commercial event but with really good content and entertainment?
As for the Home and Garden Expo, Prim Perfect will certainly be there, and as a Platinum Sponsor. On the one hand, we will be grateful for a little more leeway in our support season as we move from OBR to Fantasy Faire to SL11B to Relay Weekend. On the other, we’ll be deep in production for The Blackened Mirror and staging our second Cake for Cancer event for Macmillan Cancer Support. We hope to stage our regular Talks with Designers at the Expo this year and to film the Expo for Designing Worlds too, as we usually do. And – fingers crossed – we’ll also be doing our daily lantern release at 4pm (which has come to be very special to many people). That’s a time to set aside all the commercial considerations and fuss, and spend a little time in peaceful thought and sharing, and we’d hate to give that up.
So – how will the change affect you? Are you pleased, annoyed, or feel it really doesn’t matter? We’re interested in hearing in comments below!