CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) being held in Wellington in July, today announced a scholarship programme to provide free memberships and financial support for people from marginalised communities to attend.
“This is the first time the World Science Fiction Convention has ever been held in New Zealand. My team is busy putting together over 500 events, over five days, and one of our key aims is to make this a uniquely South Pacific convention experience. The Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative will help make sure we can hear from a diverse range of voices at the convention, particularly Māori and Pasifika,” Programme Division Head Jannie Shea said.
The convention is not for profit and run entirely by volunteers. All those attending (including programme participants) need to purchase a membership. Attending membership costs $450 for adults, $250 for young adults born in or after 2000, and $225 for unwaged NZ residents. The Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative aims to help those who would not otherwise be able to attend the convention.
There are no financial hardship criteria to apply for the scholarship. Applications from people from marginalised communities will be prioritised, including Māori, Pasifika, people of colour, LGBTQI+, disabled, and those facing socio-economic disadvantage. Applicants who reside in New Zealand, or who require minimal travel support, will be accepted first, with broader Pasifika region applicants considered if funds allow.
“Worldcon members have a history of digging into their pockets to help diverse and local people attend. We saw this through past years’ initiatives such as MexicanX and the Fantastic Dublin Fund. We know our members and the broader speculative fiction community will get behind us and help make the Aotearoa Inclusion Initiative a success,” said Co-Chair Norman Cates.
Applications for the scholarship are open until the end of March, and people and companies who want to support the initiative can donate funds or memberships through CoNZealand’s website.
Scholarship Manager Toni Wi (Ngāti Maniapoto) and Māori Programme Liaison Cassie Hart (Ngāi Tahu) are managing the scholarship process. “We’ll be pushing hard to get funding for as many scholarships as we can. It’s free to apply and we want to hear from as many applicants as possible. Don’t self reject!”