Financial Report – Magicon Elevation 2023

In our ongoing efforts of honoring our value of transparency, here is this year’s financial report. This is important to us in order to build and maintain trust within the community and the partners we work with to make these events possible. This year I’ve decided to present the numbers in a few different ways, in order to make it easier to understand and to put them in perspective.

Let’s start with the income:

  • Surplus from last year: 22.071,-
  • Ticket sales: 423.040,-
  • Grant: Kulturtanken: 200.000,-
  • Grant: Kulturrådet: 170.000,-
  • Booths: 41.600,-
  • Merch and drink sales: 26.942,-

Total income: 883.653,-

Then let’s look at the expenses:

  • Running costs since Magicon Origins: 10.133,-
  • Travel Expenses: 59.470,-
  • Rent & Hired Personnel: 435.989,-
  • Hotel: 53.695,-
  • Honorariums: 41.017,-
  • Printed Materials: 56.907,-
  • Inventory: 20.273,-
  • Tooling: 10.237,-
  • Marketing: 38.292,-
  • Prizes: 19.218,-
  • Food and drinks: 47.394,-
  • Magic: The Gathering: 34.788,-
Total expenses: 827.493,-
Result: 56.160,-*

*Disclaimer: Small variables may affect this, like hidden fees, late expense reports etc. Nothing major though.

Further reading with comments from ProducerChan.

  1. Perspective
  2. Comments and explanation on expenses
  3. Road forward and final thoughts

Perspective

Percentage:

The big question: “What does Magicon spend the money from my ticket on?”

As Magicon grows, it makes more sense to look at this percentage wise as it gives a clearer overall picture.

The blue lines indicate Magicon Elevation, and the red lines, Magicon Origins. What I want to highlight here are which costs are the most affected by the increase in visitors.

For example printed materials like t-shirts, posters, wristbands did not increase (it was actually lowered), because we only increased our crew size by around 12 people, we found a better deal on t-shirts and were more mindful of what needed to be printed and not.

The big hit of course comes from renting such a central and large venue. Not much to add here, it is what it is.

As you can see, Travel/Hotel, Prizes, Food and Marketing, have all been lowered. At the same time we had over 140.000,- in total prize value, more “expensive” guests (travel and hotel cost wise), completely revamped webpage, increased visibility on Google search and SoMe and a crew that was very happy with what we fed them. This comes from just getting more experienced with running conventions. You can expect these percentages to stay fairly stable going forward. I’ll get back to the last 3 categories in part 2.

Cost per hour:

I like this example as it puts the visitor’s ticket cost in perspective. “What does it cost to run a Convention like this per hour?”

600,- for 16 hours of access to the Convention costs the visitor 37.5,- per hour.
There were about 1000 of you there, giving us 37.500,- per hour.
Our expenses were 51.718,- per hour.

To make this work we’re dependent on subsidies from government agencies, merch sales and booths. These 3 are highly unpredictable as none of them are a given and we have to work diligently for months to secure them.

I hope this illustrates clearly that monetary wise visitors are getting great value for their tickets.
We can always discuss the quality and the execution of the Convention, but based on the feedback we have gotten we’re either doing great, or you have faith that we’re doing everything we can to improve.

2: Comments and explanations of the expenses

Running costs since last Magicon:

Nothing too exciting here, we bought some more Magi Llamas, paid running fees and some late expense reports. We also upgraded to a business version of our Google Suite, greatly increasing QoL for our entire crew.

Travel Expenses:

This year I’ve decided to split up travel and hotel costs to give you guys some more insight, so it’s not comparable to last year’s numbers. Long story short, it’s about double in total, which makes sense as we’ve doubled up on the number of international guests and days. Last year we were hoping for lower travel costs next time, but as you all know, that did not happen. No big surprises here, and these numbers will likely stay the same.

Hotel:

So, moving dates had a lot of benefits, but also came at a price. With Elevation being the same weekend as Tons of Rock made the hotel prices sky rocket, it was absolutely backbreaking for my initial budgets. Next year Tons has moved their event to the weekend after us, hopefully lowering the demand, and thus the prices. One can only hope, as this obviously also affects our visitors.

Rent & Hired Personnel:

Hello Oslo, goodbye wallet. Not only is the rent high, but the venue requires a LOT of personnel from them, which we have to pay for. There’s not really any good alternative options in Oslo for our current size, but as we keep growing we can look at other venues with different and hopefully lower requirements for staff. Ideally I’d like to see this percentage down to 40%, which would give us the chance to have even more international guests.

Honorariums: 

In an ideal world everyone should get paid, but as you can clearly see from the numbers above, it’s just not possible. As our financial situation improves, we hope to be able to compensate even more of the contributors. It’s a difficult decision to take when we do choose to pay honorariums, and we don’t do so lightly. In order to not “out” anyone who required honorarium, I won’t mention names, but I would like to give a massive thanks to the dozens who contributed for free, and of course the volunteers, who deserve so much more. If you were unaware, no one in the Magicon organization receives honorariums. I hope to see this category increase slightly going forward.

Printed Materials:

Wristbands, maps, banners, t-shirts, buttons, signs, diplomas… the list goes on. We actually spent less this year, as we got a better deal on t-shirts and printed less stuff. That said, we’ll probably print a little more signs, as some visitors found it difficult to navigate the venue. Then again, we are working on a super secret project that was 99% done for Elevation which would eliminate the need for a lot of printed materials. Exciting! This category will likely stay fairly similar.

Inventory:

This is a new category. These are expenses for items that can be reused at future conventions. They are often high cost, but become cheaper than renting equipment in the long run. We actively make sure that these investments do not greatly affect the event’s content, but at the same time make well thought out purchases that will benefit Magicon in the long run. An example was purchasing fans for crews and backstage areas. Next year it would make sense to buy a few of these for the visitors as well, as long as the budget allows it. Disclaimer, this number only includes how much we’ve spent on inventory, not the value of our inventory.

Tooling:

This mainly refers to software that is being used to produce the convention. Examples are Google Business Workspace, bots for Discord, Later for SoMe posting, finance software, digital signature services and so on. This greatly improves our efficiency, ease of life and professionalism. The crew also receive the opportunity to get training in some of these, which can become useful in future jobs etc. In my opinion its value is demonstrated through the fact that we run Magicon with about half the amount of volunteers as similar conventions while still retaining top tier crew satisfaction. I expect these costs to increase slightly, but at the same time benefiting both the crew and visitors proportionally.

Marketing:

Ok, work with me on this one, let me take you through an imaginary timeline of planning a con financially.

Day 1: You have like… no money.
Day 5: You sign the contract for the venue for about half a million kr. You still have no money btw.
Day 40: You release the tickets. You have no money.
Day 80: You’ve sold 300 tickets. You have about 20% of the required money.
Day 120: You book your 4 headliners. You now have no money.
Day 180: You apply for grants. You have no money.
Day 210: You’ve sold 400 tickets total. You have a little money.
Day 230: You book flights for your headliners. You have no money.
Day 240: Your application for a grant was declined because of a spelling error, you have no money.
Day 260: You’ve sold 403 tickets, you panic, you start advertising.
Day 280: You do something nice for your volunteers. You have no money.
Day 300: You’ve sold 450 tickets. You have a little money.
Day 315: You’ve sold 452 tickets, you panic, you start advertising.
Day 320: Your application for a grant was approved. You have a decent amount of money.
Day 325: You book the rest of the guests and panelists. You now have no money again.
Day 340: You’ve sold 463 tickets. You’re considering canceling the event.
Day 350: You’ve sold 480 tickets. There’s no way this will work. You can’t even afford food for the crew.
Day 360: You’ve sold 600 tickets. Ok, that’s a little better, but still far behind what’s needed.
Day 365: You’ve sold 1000 tickets. Crisis averted.

This was more or less our timeline for Elevation. The point I’m trying to make is that it is fairly risky to make these events, and as you may gather, very stressful for those responsible. Although we have processes in place to not do unnecessary paid marketing, it seems like the only option at times. This is money I’d much rather spend on content at the convention, and I guess that one day we’ll be able to, but for now we need to reach as many as possible to sell the required amount of tickets to cover our costs.

In this category is also our Aftermovie (watch it!) and recruitment video (coming soon), which works both as marketing and creating amazing memories.

I’d love for these costs to go down in the future. If you’re able, buy your ticket as early as possible, then more money will go to content and I’ll have less heart attacks and strokes. Hopefully.

Prizes:

Just like last year, we’re keeping these costs fairly low, but we’re still able to give out prizes of a value of over 140.000,- thanks to all our amazing sponsors and partners. This category will likely increase slightly as we keep balancing on the knife’s edge of keeping things fun and inclusive, but also making it a little extra magical for the winners. (You’re all winners in my opinion).

Food and Drinks:

A slight increase here, which is natural with more invited guests and a 2 day con. Based on the feedback we’ve gotten we hit the sweet spot this time, and the percentage of total expenses will therefore likely stay similar going forward. Nah, screw that, I’ma buy more snacks for the crew. Sue me.

Investments:

This year we decided to reach out to a bunch of nerds (that’s a compliment) who haven’t gotten much love in the last 6-7 years. Magic: The Gathering is a big community with a mixed player base which has had massive growth through the pandemic. We decided to run our own NM, which was all in all a big success. That said, the crossover wasn’t ideal at the current venue, however, we have plans, big plans. More on this in the coming months.

3: Road forward and final thoughts.

I hope you have found this article at least somewhat informative. Everyone is feeling the effects of the world’s financial situation and it’s well known that wages are not keeping up with inflation. For this very reason I think it’s important for organizations like ours to stay transparent and show that we actually practice what we preach.

We are very lucky to have so many fantastic Cosplay Conventions in Norway, with different approaches, locations and price points. There really is something for everyone. Magicon is in the upper price point due to its location and content, this is a choice we made early on, in order to attract more visitors. I mentioned this briefly last year, but the logic here is to reach a so-called “critical mass” of visitors to be able to stand on our own feet. It takes the same amount of light and sound technicians to run a stage for 300 people as it does for 3000 people. Several other expenses act the same way, like travel, hotel, honorariums and tooling.
We doubled in size since last year, but we’re unlikely to do so next year, so we still have a way to go. According to my estimates we will reach this critical mass at around 3000 visitors, and we’ll then no longer be dependent on government grants and sponsors to the same degree.

Our promise to you is that we’ll keep improving, adjust, innovate, engage and deliver the best we can with the handful of legendary volunteers we have. There is space, and a need in the Norwegian cosplay community for a larger-type summer convention in Oslo. We hope to qualify for this position through continuously delivering on our promises, exposing the community to new and old talents, cooperating with the international cosplay community, building competence within and building trust through transparency, and listening to you.

I’m happy to hear that our crew is proud of what they have achieved, and wants to continue on this journey. A massive thanks to our visitors, with all their kind words and their continuous support. We do not take it for granted, but damn, it would be a rough path without it.

That’s all from me, if you have any questions, concerns or even ideas on how to better present data like this, please reach out on [email protected].

By the end of next week we officially close down the project that was Magicon Elevation, by celebrating with a big after party for the entire crew. The week after, Magicon Evolution will take its first baby steps, and you know what? It’s going to be a good one, I just feel it.

Peace out, stay cool, stay kind.

Christopher – ProducerChan