This year’s World Science Fiction Convention is set to take place between July 29th and August 2nd, and to help encourage fans from marginalized communities to attend, CoNZealand has announced a scholarship program to provide free memberships and to provide financial support to those who might not otherwise attend.
Attending a major convention like WorldCon is difficult for those in the South Pacific, given the travel logistics involved. This is the first time that the convention has ever been held in New Zealand, and the con’s organizers explain that a major goal of the convention is to “make this a uniquely South Pacific experience.” To that end, Programme Division Head Jannie Shea says that they want to make sure that they “hear from a diverse range of voices at the convention, particularly Māori and Pasifika.”
Membership for the convention is expensive: $450 for adults, $250 for young adults born in or after 2000, and $225 for unwaged NZ residents. That can be a major impediment for fans who might want to attend, but who might not be able to bear the cost.
To help with that, the con’s organizers have launched the Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative as a way to encourage marginalized communities within New Zealand and the greater Pacific region. The scholarships include a free membership to the convention, as well as travel and accommodation support if it it’s needed, but it doesn’t cover the cost of food or childcare. The convention will pay for accommodations and travel costs directly, and “will have the opportunity to be featured as a participant” in the convention program or exhibits.
Those eligible for the scholarship must be 18 or older, and the con says that there is no financial hardship criteria. Interested parties should apply before March 31st, 2020, with scholarships to be awarded through May 22nd, 2020. The convention notes that they could run out of space, and are encouraging potential applicants to purchase a membership if they want to attend. If they’re awarded a scholarship, it will cover the balance of the membership and travel accommodations. Priority for the award will be given to New Zealand residents, followed by applicants within the region, with preference given to LGBTQI+, disabled, POC, and others who are disadvantaged socio-economically. First-time WorldCon attendees will also be given consideration, especially if they can “express a clear benefit from and/or contribution to the convention.”
Interested parties can apply for a scholarship here.