This is the first of an occasional series of posts on the art and craft of fannish volunteer-run conventions. These are my opinions and my experiences. As always, YMMV.
We are all us.
A county fair might have carnies and marks. A stage production could have a cast, crew, and an audience. The ticket-purchasers vs. the people who make the show happen. There's "us" and "them."
I reject that dichotomy. There's no "them" and "us." The head of one division might be an avid costumer. A guest of honor might also be an enthusiastic karaoke participant. Someone in Hospitality might also be an autograph hound.
It takes a lot of people, pulling together, to make the convention happen. As far as official volunteers and staff go, there could be 10% of the convention's attendees helping to push the boat. Add in all the artists and vendors with their wares, and the program participants with what they have to say, and the costumers dazzling everyone (and showing up in the majority of the press coverage), and so forth, and it's really hard to draw a clear line between the people making it happen and the ones who are just there to be entertained.
kevin_standlee likens fandom to a potluck party. People bring what they want to share, and it's different every time, and there are some people who come empty-handed but there's a lot of generosity that makes it happen. Some people like to use the phrase "Gift Economy."
But regardless of how you want to put it, the people making the convention happen are the members of the convention. Someone might come one year and just get a badge, then decide to put in a little time volunteering; then they come to the conclusion the best way to see the Masquerade entries is to bring all-black clothes and volunteer as a ninja. Tune in a few years later and they're running a completely unrelated department, and dragging all their friends along to help whitewash the fence.
They didn't change from a "them" to an "us." We are all us.