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PyCon Nove

Florence

19th - 22nd April 2018

The future of Europython

Europython has become a primary python community event thus some considerations and decisions should be made. We'd like to share our thoughts openly and receive your feedback.


PREAMBLE

In the last 3 years Europython has had a considerable positive trend both by attendees number and public interest. It has grown so much that it's quite hard to organize that kind of event keeping the same service quality and capacity cap that we've all enjoyed recently.

It's not a job for unexpert teams dealing with their first conference organization experience. Even teams with experience organizing small sized could potentially face many troubles organizing a conference the size of Europython. On the other hand it brings so much positive value that probably nobody inside the Python community would like to loose what Europython has become due to a single year failure or a simple wrong estimate of the event complexity.

Europython is a community conference organized and runned by volunteers that work on it without any payback during their free time (that they could be spending with their families and friends). As a matter of fact it's not all: they assume big responsabilities and are fully responsible for the financial scenario of the conference organization as well.

This translates to one simple statement: if things go wrong and there are economic losses they will be responsible for this. This have happened to us (Python Italia Association) some years ago during our local Pycon organization. We did pay and we did learn from our mistakes. Fortunately the numbers were rather different from a conference like Europython and we are still here, organizing conferences and doing a good (at least I hope) job organizing Europython.

What I'm trying to highlight at this point is that Europython is getting big and can probably reach numbers very close to Pycon US if we all want but, unlike it, Europython is not organized and managed by the PSF ( wich acts just as sponsor ). There's no big organization protecting your back in case of financial losses. The organizers are completely and lonely exposed. I'm not trying to say that Pycon US organizers have any advantages when compared ( on contrary! they have a big responsability to handle and are doing an outstanding job all from volunteers. Every single person within the python community should thank and learn from ) but at least they are not financialy exposed ( as far as i know ).

THE FUTURE

The near future of Europython is quite well known and will take place in July in Florence, once again. It's the second italian edition happenning in Florence. But then what? Who's willing to organize 2013/2014 editions? Where will it move to?

At the time I'm not aware of any concrete and convincing hosting proposal. To be honest I'm not aware of any proposal as well. As current organizers we are somehow concerned about it. We should have some of the next organizers helping us with the current edition organization, acquiring information and experience for their own that will hopefully help them when organizing 2013 and 2014 editions.

THE PRESENT

With those premises we decided to take a public position towards the future of the Conference. We would like to publicaly expose our openness to organize and run 2013/2014 edition. At the moment I didn't hear about any real and concrete proposal that is convincing enough about the fact that we won't have any slowdown in our conference growth, credibility and quality as well as not compromising the work that has been done by many people over the past 10 years.

In any case we'd like to send a strong message the community and to all the bidders: we do care about it and we'd like to be completely sure that we are passing the baton to a group of people that care and wish to do great things.

The Biggest Python European Conference Ever

2011 edition was the biggest Python european conference ever with something like 670 attendees. It could have been more but we decided to put a limit on it. The reasons for that cap limit were mainly related to the venue and lunches. The number of attendees is a topic by itself and should be discussed openly within the community in order to understand if we want to keep this number "managed" in the near future or want just to scale (somehow like Pycon US). We should be handling around 700 in 2012 and are able to consider scaling a little bit more if needed in 2013/2014.

Last year we have delivered a healthy conference. That's one the concepts I'd like to stress the most and that I really care about.

First of all the budget (yeah, though it's a community no-profit conference ran by volunteers money is still a critical, if not the most, part of whole system). Since the beggining we worked on a strategy to have enough space to provide and scale extra services as we scale on sponsors.

Note: I'm not including tickets revenue in this consideration as we decided that we wanted a conference affordable to everybody keeping the prices as low as we could. Thus tickets average revenue was almost 0.

But when I talk about healthy environment I'm not talking only about the budget: I mean the whole conference. I'm speaking about caring about social events, delivering pleasant outdoor spaces for the attendees to socialize, caring and promoting diversity topics, deploying handy services for foreign attendees (such as pre-charged local SIMs or a rich partners program to enjoy such graceful city like Florence) and last but not least, managing to end up with a quite positive balance that we can use to be improve next year conference and reduce any risk.

Another topic I'd like to talk about is sponsors. Sponsors are essential for a conference that aims to have high quality standards. Sponsors don't knock at your door offering you money just because Python is cool and you are organizing a big european conference. Sponsors need to be found, you need to "sell" your conference (aka your product), convince them that they are not giving their money away to a bunch of people just having fun. You need to convince them that they need it and they are investing their money on an activity that potentialy has big benefits and their investment will payback greatly.

I like to think that we do not sell anything but just inform sponsors about possibilities. I really believe that Europython is a great opportunity for many companies so far. As I mentioned earlier we had great feedback on our efforts to collect sponsors and work with them to find out the best sponsorship cut for their needs. Almost all sponsors told us that they were very satisfied about the conference and the service we provided. Actualy, many asked us to keep them updated for the next year. I may be biased and maybe wrong but I can't remember so many sponsor and related activities during the last editions so far (and I've been attending Europython for while).

The Best Python Conference Ever

In 2012 we forecast that it'll be even bigger and we have worked on a strategy to handle it fixing also the issues we had in 2011.

One thing that we can garantee is that we are willing to make Europython 2012 the best Python conference ever!

See you in Florence.


— Fabio, 09 January 2012

1 Comments Add a comment

  1. Gravatar
    (Note, I am the PyCon US 2012/2013 chair)

    You are correct in that the PSF "backs" PyCon US - meaning it is the host entity (non profit) that assumes the financial risks associated with the conference, it however is not directly involved with the planning - the board approves the budget, assigns a chair (me right now) and then it is hands off to the staff to manage it. The foundation acts only as budget oversight in day-to-day conference business. The foundation carries the needed insurance and legal liabilities for the conference as well.

    This does mean that the coordinators - such as myself - are financially protected to an extent. However, the risk is still amazingly high. A single bad year could bankrupt the entirety of the Python Software Foundation itself.

    That means the entire organization could vanish, along with all the work it does for the community. It's a risky proposition and one that the board is always trying to mitigate.

    My best recommendation for you - for personal protection and liability - is to look into the european equivalent of a US 501c3 organization.

    Creating such an organization, with a board, its own finances, etc allows that entity to assume the risks, carry the needed insurance and gain the collective bargaining power that PyCon US has. It also protects you and your team should something go horribly wrong.

    I've written about this extensively here:
    http://jessenoller.com/2011/05/25/pycon-everybody-pays/

    http://jessenoller.com/2011/09/23/pycon-2012-sponsorship-making-the-case-for-sponsorship/
    — Jesse Noller,

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