In a post to backers of the Kickstarter campaign, GX Australia's organisers have announced that next month's event will be "the last one ... in its present form" after corporate sponsors decided to pull out of the event at the last moment.
Joshua Meadows and Liam Esler, the main organisers of the inclusive convention, explained on Kickstarter that they had "been settling into the decision that this would be our last convention" for a while, but that urge strengthened after financial support was withdrawn from the event. "Both years our budget was developed around financial commitments made to us by companies, publishers, and developers who told us that they believed in what we were doing and wanted to show that they shared our values with a financial contribution," the organisers wrote.
Despite assurances from companies that they would financially support GX Australia for 2017, the organisers have announced that those commitments have fallen through. "We don't want to panic anyone or give the impression that we're cancelling the event — we're still very much committed to ensuring it happens, and we're committed to making it every bit as exciting as we hoped it would be. Nevertheless, we are having to come up with creative solutions to our budget and unfortunately have to evaluate whether or not we can deliver on some of the extras we'd promised in the campaign."
GX Australia will still go ahead next month as planned, although at a significant financial burden to those involved. In a public post on Facebook, Meadows wrote that the event would be between $40,000 and $60,000 short of funds and that they have a month left to figure out how to make up the gap.
"It doesn't feel nice; maybe it's naive to assume promised funding can be relied on, I don't know, but we both know that we can't keep killing ourselves each year chasing after it," Meadows wrote. He also told Kotaku Australia that some of the larger sponsors for GX Australia initially were educational institutions, institutions whose funding recently took a hit after recent legislative changes were passed.
"Having done a lot of sponsorship in the past, it's common to see some drop-off, but the reality is that it's harder for companies to justify supporting diversity initiatives," Esler explained to me on Facebook. "For some, there's no clear return on investment, and for some, it's more a case of people in companies want to be supportive, but when it goes to management they can't find the funds for these things. Nobody's been malicious about it, but there's a clear message there."
Both organisers also thanked the Australian indie community, which continued to wholeheartedly support the event despite not having the most financial security themselves. And it doesn't sound like GX Australia will be the last event Meadows and Esler are involved with, with the former telling me that they will discuss a venture at the opening ceremony next month that will have "a bit more teeth and a more lasting impact".
The decision to forge ahead means that some of the stretch goals promised during the campaign are likely to be cut. GX Australia 2017, however, will still be held at the Sydney Showground on April 29 and April 30. You can purchase tickets through Eventbrite, with a single ticket giving you access to both days of the convention.