There has been plenty of debate on Twitter over the last two days about our decision to charge private sector attendees of this year’s event. Some of it healthy and helpful, some of it less so.
We expect challenge and criticism, we’re here to disrupt things in order to get results for local government, and change always provokes a reaction.
We’d like to explain a bit about our thinking and also how we move on from this – it was never our intention to ‘exclude’ and it’s a shame that some have taken our actions in this way.
Why charge private sector attendees?
Yes, we get it, unconferences don’t always charge and their inclusivity is great. But what we’ve experienced recently is that events in the sector have become a little tiring, the same people having the same conversations each year.
It’s also felt a lot like ‘preaching to the choir’. There are a lot of evangelists for these events, and that’s because they’re great. They’ve changed things for so many people coming along, meeting new people and finding genuine inspiration. But to keep that alive we’ve got to shake things up from time to time, to get new people in the room, to have new conversations. And it’s this balancing act that’s tough. We don’t want to stop regular attendees from coming along, and we don’t want to become a ‘clique’ either.
The balance between private sector people and public sector people is also a delicate balance. A room full of freelancers discussing local government wouldn’t be of much help to local government itself. That interaction between private and public sectors is essential and there’s some good work come out of it (paid work too). But, to put it bluntly, we need to make sure people working in local government, officers, members, are properly represented.
So what are we doing now?
LocalGovCamp will go ahead this year, unlike last. And it will go ahead because of the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who organise it, and our partners who continue to support us, especially FutureGov who are bringing CouncillorCamp to the event too. There’s a full list of all our partners at the bottom of this post, and we’d like to thank them all.
We’ve also listened to those who weren’t happy about the ticketing policy. We are prepared to take on constructive feedback and iterate.
If you are a private sector attendee you should have had an email offering a refund. What we’re going to do is make this an optional donation – those that are happy to pay will be listed as supporters of the event.
We’re also introducing a new category for those who don’t work in local government, aren’t suppliers or elected members. We recognise that those passionate individuals who care about local government but aren’t ‘on the inside’, or currently employed, are important people to have along too.
In addition to the publicised schedule for releasing tickets we’ll be making some available tomorrow evening, so keep your eyes peeled.
We hope we can all move on from this, it’s great that people care so much about these events, and we hope that those who have feedback to pass on feel able to do so without having to resort to angry exchanges on Twitter. We’re happy to talk and we all want to make sure this event builds on the success of earlier unconferences and is about genuine engagement, disruption and inspiration. If people want to help us achieve this we’d also be happy to hear from you.
We’ve also had some great messages of support and offers of help from those already involved in LocalGovCamp and earlier events including Nick Hill and Dave Briggs (who’s responsible for many of us getting involved in this anyway).
We look forward to seeing you in June for LocalGov Digital’s LocalGovCamp and Fringe!
Our partners, sponsors, associates and supporters!
LocalGovCamp 2014 and Fringe are partnered by:
Public Sector Customer Services Forums (PSCSF)
And we are also grateful to Comms2Point0, DXW and The Satori Lab for their support.