With conventions closed for COVID-19, what happens to furries as a community?

by Patch O'Furr

Depression of the furry economy.

Real life cons and meets are glue for internet fandom. Closing them will make a ripple effect.

Furry fandom has had decades of rising activity, and it’s between members without depending on corporations. Up to now, their cons bring tens of thousands of people with tens of millions of dollars spent per year around the world. That’s hard to just pause and restart.

It’s tourism/live show business that makes a foundation for other businesses. Take fursuit-making. It has millions a year in activity. Shutdowns and unemployment could make commissioners less eager for fursuits they can’t use in person or afford.

Some makers have long queues for promised work. That can mean holding a lot of deposits (even near an average household’s debt — thousands per suit x dozens of suits.) Imagine the queue stopping. That’s the ripple effect.

Could that kind of problem bankrupt cons? Or are they safe if they can cancel hotel contracts by force majeure? How hard will the hangover be if it takes a year or more to restart? (Reopening too soon can hurt too, without concerted solutions everywhere.)

Here’s a sobering thought: COVID-19 studies I’ve read suggest it might keep coming in waves for years until there’s a vaccine. But immunity might not persist. Consider if it settles in to stay and lowers world life expectancy until who knows when. (However, get info from science sources, not fan news.)

That could make it uncertain if cons will come back the same way at all. Maybe it’s too soon for judgement, but consider the possibility.

Shutdowns might be relatively less bad for con business though, unlike investment that needs returns. If they can cancel without debt, maybe they can stay buffered from the social turbulence of ZIRP (the reason why huge investment capital sloshes around in search of profit, building business that makes no sense.)

But lost reg fees and travel costs hurt, and those who rely on fandom social life or art business have more to worry about.

Fandom without cons? What a BUMMER.

Going all-online is a big change for a fandom known for crowds of colorful costumers at cons. Maybe the big party years will be remembered as a second wave after the 1970s-1990s pre-online fandom. Now it could turn a corner to a third wave.

Meanwhile, too much time on social media can make you stressed, angry, desperate for more, and primed for data mining and advertising. There’s an acronym for “the sinister purpose of tech companies that brought us the platforms we’re hooked on and their effect on us“. It is…

BUMMER (Behaviors of Users Modified and Made into Empires for Rent.)

Losing independent bases can raise this corporate power. What can you do about it? Maybe limit time online, work on tangible creativity, and build crossover outside the fandom.

Finding support.

This is a good time to support artists if you can. Soatok, a furry coder, told me: “I’m going to be commissioning a fursuit soon, but I already wanted one before this stuff.”

There’s lots of fun ways to do suiting online. I’m being an eye candy guest on livestreams for Bawdy Storytelling. The show was live on stage before, so livestreams keep supporting performers who got hit hard by shutdowns.

Hurt by unemployment? Furries can help other furries. Soatok says: “I’m currently writing a thing that can be summed up as ‘how to get into remote tech work for close to $0 and no prior experience for furries’. This is a public teaser.”

Staying flexible and independent is a way to prepare for a bounce back.

You could even combine fun and a side gig. If anyone wanted to try this, I’ll bet the biggest demand would be from other fans themselves, so it isn’t much more than a little extra option for those already doing such activity.

It’s happened with small gigs as mascot entertainment or being welcomed on stage at bigger shows. I’ve gotten $50 and meals for being a dancer or just mingling at clubs where I might have done it for fun anyways. Imagine gathering a like minded group to promote that together. It would be an online version of groups that do it for live events. If anyone tries it, send a tip here for an article to help.

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