Faculty Scholarship


Jon GaronFollow

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

January 2017


This article is part of a series of book excerpts from The Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals, which provides the business, strategy, and legal reference guide for fan conventions, film festivals, musical festivals, and cultural events.Content from Cons and festivals dominate U.S. pop culture. The conventions serve as launching pads for new artists, entrepreneurs, and innovators. The smaller versions of these events create space to develop fan fiction, allow new artists to expose their work to interested audiences, and provide an entry point for new creative enterprises. As a cultural event and platform for expression, these events have shifted from the margin to the center of culture and influence, while largely being left without any critical assessment.What makes the Con experience a unique cultural event that has survived the millennia? As its festival origins show, at its heart, the Con reflects a profoundly tribal experience, gathering members of the tribe to celebrate and share. This means the well-run Con presents experiences to be shared, opportunities for attendees to gather and engage with each other, and totems to retain as part of the attendees future identification. The totems may include badges, T-shirts, Con-branded paraphernalia, limited edition runs of Con-related content, or other items. Totems are much more than just a source of revenue, for they serve as a long-term identifier of the Con with its core audience. Buttons, badges, T-shirts, albums, and merchandise are part of the cultural experience, not merely an add-on or method to defray costs.

Publication Title

The Pop Culture Business Handbook for Cons and Festivals