Thursday, June 3, 2010

Compensation Packages

Been feeling a little down for the past couple of days - rejected as a BreyerFest volunteer, again. Man, it’s a big enough blow to the ego to get turned down for jobs that pay cash money, but for one that doesn’t? Ouch.

Of course, that’s not quite true - it does "pay" to be a volunteer. Everyone goes out of their way to say that oh goodness, no, I’m volunteering for the honor of it all - but let’s face it, the gratuity you get for that honor - an SR horse - is a very strong motivator for many. I rather doubt so many people would be as eager to apply if all Reeves offered was the standard convention volunteer package: t-shirt, hat, lunch, and free admission.

That’s not going to happen, of course. Those of us trolling Blab a few weeks back saw the carnage that ensued when the possibility of Reeves scaling back the Youth show prizes to something a little less financially rewarding was brought up. The sense of entitlement was … well, rather depressing. I didn't realize that fabulous rare prize models were now a live show necessity.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the hobby before it was about the money - or less so, anyway. You showed for the glory of it all, for the big, giant rosettes and having your picture taken and possibly featured in Just About Horses or the Model Horse Gazette. If you volunteered in some capacity - to hold a show, or judge one - it was just because the activity itself was so fun and rewarding in and of itself.

You did it because you loved it, and your compensation was the boost it gave to your reputation - and admittedly, your ego. There’d be financial compensation, indirectly, in the form of name recognition, especially if you had a secondary talent like customizing or tackmaking, but that was not your primary motivation.

There were some early experiments with volunteer, gift and prize models in the pre-BreyerFest days. Some of those 5 to 7 piece Test Runs/Special Runs that originated with Marney in the 1970s were a part of that experimentation: most of those were raffle pieces, presumably for fundraising and local show promotion. (Ah, if only I could have had a few for the Swap Meet! I’m getting to that post, I promise.)

Then came the Black Proud Arabian Mare. Oh, boy.

The story goes that they were created as a gratuity to a series of Breyer-sponsored liveshows - presumably as fundraisers and for local show promotion - but that’s not exactly what happened. Rumor has it that some showholders kept some of the models for themselves. Let me emphasize that that’s what I heard, and not what I know: it might have been the intent all along to allow these showholders to keep a piece as compensation, and the griping I heard was just the usual sour grapes.

The following year there were a handful of Red Bay Cantering Welsh Ponies made, and the 1987 Congress program specifically stated that the showholders would be receiving some as gifts. I have no idea if that was included to help dispel the rumors, or just coincidentally convenient phrasing. (And as I’ve brought up before, Marney’s writing skills were less than helpful.)

And that was it, until they instituted the live show at BreyerFest some years later. I have no idea if the rumors played a part in the discontinuation of the original program, or if other factors played a greater part, like complaints from "ungifted" showholders. Or was it the creation of BreyerFest itself, just a couple years later? Another question without an answer.

I’ll still do what I normally do for BreyerFest this year, with the camaraderie of my cohobbyists as my only compensation. It would have been nice to have been able to tell people behave themselves in the NPOD line, and have some small authority to back me up on that. An authority that only comes to those among the gifted, in some hobbyists’ eyes.

(I would have done it for a t-shirt and a footlong tuna sub. Any maybe a bullhorn. Heck, I'd still do it for that.)


Latter-Day Flapper said...

At the risk of sounding really old and grouchy . . . whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I'm sort of a second-generation hobbyist: I started collecting as a small child in the early 1980's, reading JAH in 1985 or 1986, and showing as a pre-teen in 1989. Once upon a time, show special runs were a HUGE deal, and limited to the really big shows (none of which I ever attended).

I don't have a lot of resources to spare, but on the rare occasions when I do get to go to a live show, I make sure always to have at least a door-prize donation, or I save up and sponsor a class or division. Shows are expensive and I'm tremendously grateful to the people who put them on. My collection is almost entirely middle-aged, though not rare, OF Breyers, so showing competitively is not even my primary motivation. I'm mostly there to see other hobbyists and their models and tack, just because it's cool.

I see this as a community thing. If you want shows to keep happening, you have to support them. They don't owe me a special run model, especially not as a show prize.

I'll admit that I wouldn't volunteer at BreyerFest for the standard T-shirt, lunch, and admission, but mostly because getting there and getting a hotel wouldn't be worth the cost to me. But BreyerFest is a much larger event, put on by a much larger "showholder" than most, and I'm working for them instead of just showing up and plopping my models on a table, primarily for my own glory. Attending as a show entrant is somehow not quite the same thing as working as a volunteer.

Kathryn said...

On the flip side of things... I showed in the Youth Show at Breyerfest twice as a kid, and it was really exciting to be competing for a rare, exclusive model made just for us. I'd have been sorely disappointed if only the "grownups" got to compete for good prizes while kids that worked just as hard (or harder, since most of us don't have access to adult budgets) got a Regular Run and a pat on the head. I know there are some, ah, "alternatively motivated" entrants in the Youth and Children's shows who are just fronts for some adult's showstring/greed. The solution to that is the same as it's always been; beat 'em anyway. I did. "Fabulous rare prize models" made the event more special and told all of us youth exhibitors that we were being taken seriously as competitors. I worked on my performance entries for months before I went and carefully researched my halter information cards.