Newcon 5 is postponed

From the organisers of Newcon: "Regretfully we're obliged to postpone Newcon5 (26-27 Sept 2009) until 2010 at a date yet to be fixed. The reason is venue. In January the Northampton Arts Collective, which runs the Fishmarket owned by the Borough Council, announced that they were pulling out of managing the magical space where we held Newcon4 as of the end of March 2009 due to lack of sufficient ongoing funds for maintenance and staffing. The current level of sponsorship simply wasn't enough; no fault of the sponsors themselves.

Naturally this sent shock-waves through Northampton, since the Fishmarket had only been refurbished last year to the tune of about £150,000 of capital grant. Reportedly the leader of the Borough Council impetuously declared, “Right, we’ll bulldoze it,” leading to much adverse media publicity and attempts to save the Fishmarket, including a proposed consortium of the boutique traders and resident artists.

At a meeting at the very end of January 2009, the Borough Council proposed that the Northampton Arts Collective should continue managing the Fishmarket, backed by a professional appraisal of their business plan as a matter of urgency, and perhaps by making available adjoining empty properties, which could be refurbished out of available capital money, so that the NAC could rent out the ground floors of these commercially to provide ongoing income. 

We’ve been told it’s 65% likely, off the cuff, that this rescue package, which the NAC welcome, will go ahead and that the Fishmarket will continue flourishing. However, this mightn’t become certain for some while yet.

We held off putting membership registration info on the Newcon5 website while all this remained up in the air.  Since it’s still somewhat up in the air, we don’t feel, in all fairness to prospective members of the convention and its guests, that we should proceed while there’s a one-third chance that the venue mightn’t be available. Nor do we feel inclined to shift the venue to the almost adjoining Park Hotel where function space is much more expensive, and within melancholy eyesight of Paradise Lost (as it were).  Nor could we expect from a hotel the level of invaluable co-operation and assistance that the Northampton Arts Collective gave us before and during Newcon4.

Also, because of the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings (to shift from Milton to Wordsworth for the moment) regarding Newcon4 which prompted us to declare Newcon5 for September 2009, we left ourselves rather less time to publicise and carry out our membership drive at conventions than is strictly desirable; and this time has been eaten into further by the uncertainty regarding the venue.

Accordingly we feel it’s much wiser to postpone for a year, and we hope that within just a few months the future of the Fishmarket will be secure, so that we can guarantee 100% that Paradise Regained will be the home of Newcon5 in 2010, for which we’ll have well over a year’s lead-time to prepare.  Meanwhile we’ll keep the website up.

Ian Watson & Ian Whates
Co-chairs, Newcon5 “