The Numbers: A Budget Breakdown
Have you ever wondered why does RustFest charge for tickets, and what happens with the money? Well, this is your lucky day! We have always been fairly open about our costs before, and we'd be happy to share what goes into making the RustFest Cyberspace Magic ✨ happen.
The income side #
RustFest Global is organized from a roughly 25.000 EUR budget. This may sound like a lot at first, for "just an online conference", but this is indeed a fraction of what in-person RustFests have costed in the past (which were anywhere between 2 to 4 times this much!).
Past RustFests were famously affordable as ticket prices go: as a rule of thumb we tried to stick to the 100 EUR baseline ticket price, and offered generous discounts and a variety of free ticket options to make the conference even more affordable. We wanted to keep RustFest Global in the same spirit, but as you all might imagine "affordable ticket price" means very different things for people across the globe!
Most of this year's RustFest Global's income comes from sponsors, you will see more than a dozen generous sponsors on our homepage who supported us with 1000 EUR or more! RustFest Barcelona was also fairly successful and we ended up with a surplus, about 20% of the budget comes from these funds, with some projected ticket sales rounding it all off.
Where does it all go? #
TL;DR? To the speakers! (and some services)
In past years' RustFests the ticket price was often barely enough to cover the venue- and catering (food & coffee) costs of the conference. Everything else, like speaker travel, hotels and services were supported by corporate sponsorships.
We consider RustFest Global lucky because (unlike many other events forced to transition online this spring) we didn't have hefty sums locked away (and often non-refundable!) in venue reservation costs! With that out of the way, and food, speaker travel & accommodations striked from the list where does all of that leaves us? With quite a lot, actually!
We have over 20 wonderful speakers selected from our CFP process. We provide hardware reimbursements and a speaker fee to everyone, and more than 40% of our budget is allocated for these expenses! We have also planned some entertainment: we did our best to find a diverse lineup of artists and audio-visual experiences to keep you all entertained between, after, and even during the talks! And of course we are paying these artists, too. We believe that these people are the heart of any conference, and should be properly recompensed for the work they do (whether that means booking flights and hotel rooms, or paying for a new microphone and the time & effort).
With that we are already around 50% allocated, operating costs of the dutch non-profit that provides the legal backing for the event add another 5-10%. We have allocated some funds to pay organizers during the conference (more on that below), which adds another ~10%. The remaining costs are various services we pay for (like design), and quite a few to help us make the conference more accessible & inclusive: live captioning, talk translations & subtitling etc.
Wait what about streaming costs? #
There are probably two groups of people out there. To at least some, it wouldn't even occur that online conferences and live streaming have costs associated with them (sometimes rather hefty costs indeed!). This is due to the ubiquity of services like Twitch and Youtube (and innumerable others) that provide access to video and broadcasting for free, or for a minimal cost. While many events take advantage of these services, we both found the experience and flexibility of these services lacking and also wanted to reduce our support of large megacorporations as much as possible (not to mention the privacy implications of mandated use of those services). These considerations led us to creating a brand new, customized experience for our conference stream (read more here) which both reduces our exposure to and allows us much more flexibility -- but also comes with larger costs.
We are lucky that our in-house developed streaming interface (called "Waasabi") received grant funding from the Grant for the Web Fund, which both covers the costs of development and - RustFest being a key partner in developing & testing the Waasabi framework - the streaming and architecture costs of getting RustFest to all y'alls' eyeballs! That said, even with that these hardware & service costs are a rather small fraction of all our other costs (they would amount to less than 10% of the overall buget!).
That sounds like... a lot! Who is doing all this work? #
Indeed! RustFest has always been a "from-the-community-to-the-community"-kind of event, with organizers working on their spare time for free to making all this magic happen. This have worked, but only barely, to anyone having been scorched by the flames of burnout it's clear that this is not tenable on the long term. We have been exploring ways to improve the sustainability of RustFest (and Rust events in general) on the long run in the past years, and we already have some exciting changes and news to you all, after RustFest Global. 😉
But let's not get ahead of ourselves! Currently, there is one person, paid part time as a sort of "coordinator and institutional memory" between the various RustFests. As we mentioned, we are working towards making RustFest more sustainable, and while past (in-person) RustFests have provided some perks to organizers & volunteers, this also gets more tricky for online events so we decided to pay a small stipend to all our organizers working on the day of the event.
That's all folks! #
We hope you enjoyed this bit of a candid look into the behind-the-scenes of RustFest Global! If you have any questions or comments, we are always welcome to feedback, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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