There has been a lot of confusion regarding who exactly ought to be held responsible for the various goings on at World Fantasy in Brighton. It isn’t easy to sort out, but I’ll try to shine a bit of light on it.
Before I do that, however, I recommend this post by Laura Lam which follows up on yesterday’s disgraceful attempt by WFC2013 to deflect blame for the lack of action on harassment onto the victims. Laura also confirms my understanding that WFC2013’s statement that the person reported for harassment on the Saturday night was a “fan” is a lie.
I note, for the benefit of the curious, that while at least two of the reported creepers have professional interests in SF&F, none of them is well known. No one is protecting a “big name”. Indeed I had not even heard of two of them before this all blew up.
Meanwhile, back with organizational structures. At the bottom of the tree are the volunteers. These are mostly people described as “Redcoats”. All reports I have seen suggest that these people worked hard and did a good job within the limits of their powers.
The convention’s website lists a “committee”, but I expect that some of these people will have had little or no influence on what went on. The only people who had direct influence on policy will have been the co-chairs and anyone else with a direct interest in whatever organization staged the event.
Finally we have the World Fantasy Board. As Jonathan Strahan noted on the latest Coode Street Podcast, these are people with the power to make policy. There are certain things that they require conventions to do. I also know from experience that they can be very intrusive with regard to the day-to-day running of the convention.
Of course, as Kevin often says, you can get away with anything when running a convention if you never intend to run another one. It is entirely possible that some members of the WF Board were unhappy with that went on in Brighton, and that Steve Jones thumbed his nose at them as much as he did at the membership. But the Board chose to grant him the right to stage the convention, and they did so after having summarily rejected a UK bid from a group with much more convention-running experience.
I note also that Jones may be a member of the Board (he has been in the past, and presumably is now as a past chair of a WFC) and that other members of the convention committee may also be Board members.
So my view on this complex mess is as follows. Steve Jones and his co-chairs are directly responsible for how the convention was run. The World Fantasy Board is responsible for having granted the convention to Jones in the first place (and they have enough experience of his behavior to have known what to expect). The Board is also responsible in that it has the power to set policy regarding how the convention should be run, and to select groups to run future conventions wisely.
Whether they will do so or not is another matter. They are not responsible to anyone except themselves. My suspicion is that as long as people continue to attend WFC in significant numbers the Board will not see any need for change.