Fur Isle

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Fur Isle was a proposed convention, intended to be held on the Isle of Wight, England. Planning, which started in 2013, was by Kitutal.

Origins[edit]

The idea for a southern UK convention had been brought up a few times in discussion, without much in the way of results. Fur Isle originated from one such proposal, with preliminary research put into starting on a Sussex based convention in early 2013. Bouncing ideas around in a HantsFurs chat, the suggestion of transporting the event to the Isle of Wight was made, and subsequently, ideas for names and logos started coming together, and the number of volunteer staff increased as members of the chat group joined in. Otherwise, the initial planning was kept quiet, with the idea being released to the public in December.[1] This sudden appearance generated a lot of interest, both positive and negative.[citation needed]

A plan came together over the following weeks, shortlisted hotel options were narrowed down to a choice of three, of different sizes to cover all eventualities of attendance figures. A successful marketing campaign led to a rapid rise in interest on FurAffinity and Facebook, resulting in most attention being given to the largest venue option and the potential for further growth in later years. Meanwhile, a mascot design of a brown bat was sketched out, a few preliminary activity ideas were discussed, the Halloween theme and dates confirmed and a bat rescue charity was chosen for fundraising efforts, whilst work started on a new, more professional website. Coming into February it was all looking good.

A succession of setbacks followed, the new website remained months behind schedule, and a crowdfunding project to help raise the deposit for the hotel gained little interest. The chosen hotel itself requested confirmation of all attendees many months in advance, before ticket sales had opened, and insisted on a much higher than anticipated number of rooms booked to secure the desired exclusive use. The second choice hotel declined the request to book space for the group on the weekend, due to overlap with week-long stays by anticipated other guests. Efforts to host a non-residential convention by booking function space in the town proved unsuccessful, and with time running short the decision was made to postpone to the following year.

Seasonal Parties[edit]

Rather than disappear entirely for a year, the team behind Fur Isle proposed to run a succession of seasonal events year-round, starting with a beachfront Summer Party. It was hoped that doing so would gain the organising team a good reputation for hosting enjoyable events, show off the highlights of the island location, and help reach more potential convention attendees through word-of-mouth, maintaining a position in the public attention to keep interest up, as well as allowing staff to gain further experience at organising different sized and style activities.

Ultimately, this ambition was not to be. A mis-communication led to two virtually identical Summer Parties being planned by different members of staff on successive weekends.[2] Though eventually one party was suspended and its attendees directed to the other, the turn-out was lower than expected, and criticism was raised of the handling of the situation. Meanwhile, a number of key staff on the team either lost interest, with the convention dates moved so far away, or found they had to direct all their attention to other matters, with no time to spare for something like organising a convention.

The schedule at that time included a fancy-dress Halloween party at a local pub, a Winter party with a main focus on furry fandom musical talents[3], Spring activities hosted in a rural location with plenty of outdoor fun and games, and another, larger, Summer beach party. By the time of the Halloween party, most staff were largely inactive, and actual turnout at the event was even lower. Suggested to be in part due to running on a Friday afternoon, on the day of a popular public holiday, it also became apparent that the travel time and cost of reaching the island was much more of an issue with single day activities than a larger, longer convention. The end of 2014 marked a low-point for the Fur Isle project, in response to low attendance and increasing costs of rooms, equipment and travel for each successive event, the remaining seasonal parties were suspended, with the comment made that some of the ideas proposed would be absorbed into mainland HantsFurs furmeets instead.

Fur Isle 2014[edit]

Fur Isle 2014 was an unmitigated disaster, following from the unmitigated disaster of 2013 (above). As the venue was empty, Kitutal, the Chairman decided the 'convention' would be held on a beach some distance away instead.[4] He failed to inform anyone of the change, and thus complaints were made by a concerned sister, whose little brother was stranded on the Isle of Wight with no idea what was going on, and that the event wasn't actually planned.[5] There also seems to be no photographic evidence of any other attendees. It was made apparent that the Chairman was not fit to run a convention.

Fur Isle 2015[edit]

The convention returned the following year, with posts to social media and furry forums starting up again around February. Ticket sales were scheduled to open on March 21st, and the website was redesigned to support this. Over the following few months, a succession of announcements were made regarding the plans for the 2015 convention.

Dates - The convention was scheduled to run from Friday, November 6th through to Monday, November 9th, following the decision to avoid competing with Halloween itself, and an offer of a discount rate for the group on those dates.

The venue - A booking was confirmed at the Villa Mentone hotel in Shanklin, a couple of miles down the coast from the original choice of venue, a small, beachfront location with a maximum occupancy of 65 guests.

Registration pricing - Set at £45 per person for attendance only or £140 per person inclusive of accommodation and food. The low £32 a night for bed, breakfast and dinner is used as one of the convention's key selling points, more than offsetting any travel cost to and from the island.

Terms of Service and Code of Conduct - following discussion with other furs and a number of questions raised about various issues, these rules and requirements were codified and provided in full on the website.

Timetable - A rough timetable provided an outline of planned activities, but with some spaces left open, and room for flexibility.

Theme - The previously planned theme of Halloween would be reused, even though the convention fell on the following weekend. An announcement was made that the convention's Theming Director would be working to decorate the venue appropriately.

Charity - The returning convention would renew its fundraising relationship with the local Bat Rescue Hospital, raising money in support of their efforts over the full four days, and proposing that staff, and possibly animals, from the charity visit the convention and meet attendees.

Further announcements are still anticipated over the coming months, including Dealers Den, Art Show, Music events (including a vaguely referenced major musical concert on the Saturday night), Guest of Honour and the remaining pieces of the timetable.

2016 and Beyond[edit]

It has been made clear that plans are underway for a second year of the convention, to be held in October of 2016, and running annually from then on, dependent on the success of the first iteration. The 2015 convention has been referred to as a 'trial run' with the suggestion that it would have much lower attendance and be considerably simplified compared to subsequent years. As yet, there has been no official word on details for the 2016 convention, though anticipated growth would make continued use of the small Villa Mentone hotel unsustainable.

Criticism[edit]

Fur Isle and its staff have received criticism since first going public with the plans, with concerns raised over the limited experience of convention organising by senior staff, having only run local meets before, a number of furs across the country have expressed interest in sitting out the inaugural convention, and determine based on its results whether to attend in subsequent years. As well, the choice of location has raised questions and polarised opinions. Some observers felt that the increased time and cost of travel, though more than offset by group discounts and lower accommodation costs arranged by the convention, was unnecessary and problematic, whilst others expressed strong interest in attending a convention at a well-loved, traditional holiday spot and more interesting choice of location. Meanwhile, many furs in the north of the country were disappointed to find themselves unable to attend due to the considerable travel distance. Following a proposal, it has been suggested that votes will be taken on a variety of island and mainland venues for the convention's second year.

Subsequently, the event organization was more active in seeking out the opinions, positive or otherwise, of local furs, asking around on their various social networking sites, first on Ask.fm, later on the discussion forum on the newly rebuilt event website, posting a forum thread asking for opinions on these issues, especially the change of locations, citing it as the most common complaint received.[6] The increased travel cost of the ferry crossing concern prompted the committee to investigate coach hire as a cheaper alternative.[citation needed]

Earlier Fundraising & Plush Toys[edit]

In 2013 funds were raised for their first year, which upon it's failure, the backers were to receive a plush of a bat (that years mascot). As of yet, no signs of the money or evidence of the plush toys were found, except one prototype plush.

Further South[edit]

Fur Isle became Further South in 2018, including a basic and unsuccessful marketing push, with leaflets scattered among various meets and conventions. It too failed sometime soon after. [7] It continues to have a Telegram Group called 'What Could Pawsibly Go Wrong' which continues to have no use, with even assumed staff jumping ship, and the chairman not even knowing what he is planning to do with the convention, descending into various tirades. It is safe to say Further South will, like Fur Isle, not actually come to fruition.

The Future of Fur Isle / Further South[edit]

Fur Isle's Twitter account went dark yet again after its latest attempt, replacing all of the headers, profile picture and tweets with pictures of cranes. Some time after it became 'Wyvern Events', a vaguely worded organisation of people that help out at furry conventions. It is unknown at this time who is on their staff, what conventions they are a part of, and also fail to be endorsed by any convention on the planet. It, however, is used as a vehicle for the Chairman's meets, as a kind of monopoly on Southern fur meets in the UK.

Cancellations[edit]

In mid-October 2015, approximately three weeks before the event, Kitutal cancelled the event.[8] It continued to be cancelled in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020. After 2017, Kitutal gave himself another year to fine-tune and hopefully get Fur Isle on track. This did not happen.

References[edit]

  1. Fur Isle Con - October 2014 post on the UKFur forums. Dated December 2, 2013. Retrieved ?.
  2. Summer Party post on the UKFur forums. Dated May 8, 2013. Retrieved ?.
  3. Winter Party Facebook page. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  4. Archive of the Fur Isle account on Facebook. Dated November 1st, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  5. Screenshot on the Fur Isle account on Facebook of the complaint. Dated November 4th, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  6. Fur Isle Convention - Serious Questions post on the UKFur forums. Dated December 4, 2014. Retrieved ?.
  7. Posting on the Chairman's account on Furaffinity. Dated May 30, 2018. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  8. Posting on the Fur Isle account on Facebook. Dated October 15, 2015. Retrieved November 7, 2015.

External links[edit]