One now has to pay for the privelige of volunteering to help out Arizona's largest comic convention, io9 reports. Phoenix Comicon has partnered with the fan non-profit organization Blue Ribbon Army this year and now all volunteers must be a member of the Blue Ribbon Army. Membership for the Blue Ribbon Army starts at $20 per year.
Phoenix Comicon has grown a lot since it first opened in 2002, from 400 visitors to 100,000. According to Phoenix Comicon's convention director Matthew Solberg, the latest change is because people were showing up as volunteers but not doing the work. Three directors have also been laid off as part of this new move, including one who'd worked for the convention for nearly a decade.
Anabel Martinez, a former director for Phoenix Comicon, was critical of this move. In response to this and other things, she was banned from attending the convention and her booth was canceled and refunded. Solberg accused her of having a "vendetta" and said she was banned for being "bullying" and "vindictive".
The act of charging people for volunteering is an unusual move. It's not completely unprecedented, but much larger conventions like San Diego Comic Con don't charge for volunteer membership, so it's understandable people are a little upset and confused over this. It seems likely this will discourage volunteers, but seemingly Phoenix Comicon is okay with that.
I suppose it's fine for people who were already a member of Blue Ribbon Army, but I know I wouldn't pay to volunteer for a convention. What do you think of the policy change? Do you support it?