Conference budgets

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Posted by Wendel Swan on January 12, 1999 at 11:39:46:

Where does the money come from for an ICOC or ACOR rug conference?

1) About 60% is from registration from individuals.
2) About 30% is from the Dealers' Fair or Row
3) About 10% from cash or in-kind contributions from dealers, hosts, sponsors and auctions.

The above percentages are approximate, accurate to within +/- 5%, but will vary from conference to conference.

Where does it go (not absolutely, but roughly, in this order):

Food for the participants
Dealers' Fair or Row expenses
Speakers (free registration, accommodations)
Publicity, postage and conference registration costs, including printing
Exhibition costs
Transportation (e.g., buses to and from exhibitions, rug transport)
Conference planning costs (teleconferences, travel)
Simultaneous translation (ICOC only; figure $20,000)
Hotel costs (A-V, rooms, support)

Without paid employees or offices, there is virtually no "overhead" in either the ICOC or ACOR, although in both there are continuous teleconference expenses.

It would be impossible for any of these conferences to exist without the generous support of the individuals and firms who donate their time and efforts. In another post I mentioned the volunteers for the various committees, but in-kind donations are also of inestimable help.

Hoping that I will not overlook anyone, I can say that Sotheby's, Christie's, Skinner's and Hali are always supportive. So are many dealers, individuals and rug societies.

At the Philadelphia ICOC in 1996, George Jevremovic and Woven Legends/Material Culture hosted a party for all the participants that became an evening all by itself. In Denver last year, Paul Ramsey and Shaver-Ramsey threw an extravagant dinner party that may never be topped for culinary excellence and conviviality. Fabulous.

Some may be surprised to see food costs at the top of the expense list. Food service in the hotels is expensive and a high-profit item for them. Simple things like coffee breaks and breakfasts can easily add $15 per day per participant to the overall costs.

The catered evening reception in the tent at Woodmere in Philadelphia in 1996 cost the ICOC approximately $25,000. I would say that it was worth every penny.

Although their approaches may seem different, both ACOR and ICOC make a concerted effort to be as generous as possible with speakers of lesser means, particularly those from abroad. (Given its international character, the ICOC perhaps is a bit more cognizant of this issue.) Academics, students and researchers are also given additional consideration.

For the Textile Museum conventions, the budget is quite different. There is no commercial component, so the costs of the convention must all be paid from registration fees. If the TM has to rent a facility such as the Cosmos Club for its programs, that becomes the major expense item. Speakers are paid an honorarium, travel expenses and lodging. However, some of us volunteer to put up the speakers in our homes as a means of reducing the costs to the TM (perhaps $400 - 500 in hotel bills for each speaker).

One the food subject again, at the TM Rug Convention in October, a local couple (Sylvia Bergstrom and Joe Rothstein) held an open house with food and drink on Saturday evening for all the participants. Very generous.

I have never been involved in any discussion with other rug organizers about a convention when there was not a self-imposed pressure to reduce costs. There is no one in the ICOC or ACOR or at the TM who tries to run up the bills and to charge more. Even though I myself may have questioned this at one time, I now know it to be true.

In the end, I believe that all the rug conventions are bargains.


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