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Fan Funds

Entry updated 6 June 2023. Tagged: Award, Community, Fan.

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Travel funds are a long-established tradition of Fandom, combining elements of Awards, charity (visiting the USA was once financially impossible for a typical UK fan), and cultural exchange programmes. Forrest J Ackerman proposed the Big Pond Fund with the aim of bringing John Carnell from Britain to the 1947 US Worldcon. Owing to difficulties in fundraising, Carnell's trip was delayed until 1949, but the idea had been planted. An almost exclusively US fan initiative sponsored the popular Irish fan Walt Willis to tour America and attend the 1952 Worldcon. His record of extensive US travels appeared in instalments in various fanzines, notably in his Quandry column "The Harp That Once or Twice" and its continuation in Oopsla! edited by Gregg Calkins, and was collected as The Harp Stateside (1957) – one of the acknowledged classics of fan writing.

This one-off Willis fund led directly to the founding of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund (TAFF), which still continues to send European (most often UK, though delegates from continental Europe are increasingly common) fans to North America (most often the USA) and vice versa. TAFF delegates are chosen by popular vote from a slate of candidates; travel expenses come from voting fees, donations, auctions, and sale of special publications such as past winners' trip reports; various such reports, complete or otherwise, may be read or downloaded as ebooks at the unofficial TAFF website [see under links below]. The first TAFF election or "race" was in 1954. TAFF winners with entries in this encyclopedia are: A Vincent Clarke (1954), Kenneth Bulmer (1955), Lee Hoffman (1956), Ron Bennett (1958), Ron Ellik (1961), Arthur Thomson (1964), Terry Carr (1965), Steve Stiles (1968), Eddie Jones (1969), Peter Weston (1974), David Langford (1980), Rob Hansen (1984), Greg Pickersgill (1986), Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (jointly, 1985) and Robert Lichtman (1989).

The Down Under Fan Fund (DUFF) was launched by John Foyster in 1972 for the exchange of delegates, very much along the pattern of TAFF, between North America and Australasia. This too continues; winners have included William (Bill) Rotsler (1977), Terry Dowling (1988), John D Berry (1989) and Juanita Coulson (2014). The triangle was completed when Christopher Priest instigated the Get Up-and-over Fan Fund. Initially conceived as a one-off to bring an Australian to the 1979 Worldcon in Britain, GUFF has continued with more or less regular exchanges between Europe and Australasia, changing its name to the Going Under Fan Fund for southbound races; the first winner was John Foyster and later winners include Paul Kincaid (1999).

One-off initiatives complementary to the established funds are also a continuing tradition. A series of informal funds brought writers active in Fandom to Australian Worldcons: Wilson Tucker in 1975, Bob Shaw in 1985 and David Langford in 1999. One-offs involving countries outside the traditional remit of TAFF, DUFF or GUFF conveyed UK fan Chris O'Shea to the first Japanese Worldcon in 2007 and – with the help of modern online fundraising – Nigerian author Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to the 2022 Chicago Worldcon.

Further intendedly long-term fan funds have come and gone: current survivors include CUFF, the Canadian Unity Fan Fund established in 1981 for assisted transport within Canada, and the Fan Fund of Australia and New Zealand (FFANZ), operating since 1982 between those countries. [DRL]


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