The Future of Critical Mass

While we’ve got a slowly growing mailing list (now up to 16 members), this hasn’t resulted in an increase in numbers attending the Critical Mass evenings.

We’ve been meeting regularly for over two decades, but it’s  not at all clear that there’s enough interest to continue regular meetings. The irony is, there’s more SF on TV, film and published in Australia than ever before. Why aren’t we getting the numbers for Critical Mass?

Is it the venue? We moved from the SA Writers Centre because the shrinking membership didn’t justify the annual fees. Our current venue is near the market, cosy and opens specially for us. People seem to like the steampunk coffee roaster, and the balcony venue. Is it too hard to find? Does the monthly gallery opening just down the road divert possible attendees?

Is it the time? We’ve settled on the first Wednesday of the month, but would it be better earlier in the week? Or would you prefer weekends?

Is it the speakers? We haven’t had many volunteers to deliver talks in the last two years; the largest audiences came for the three talks by authors. Would members prefer us to programme a series of speakers a yer in advance? Is the idea of preparing a 40 minute critical talk too daunting for newcomers? Should we run a few workshops on critical talks? Or should we go for 2 or 3 short (10 min) presentations followed by general discussion?

Should we cater for more diverse talks on comics, film, radio and TV as well as written SF? (We’ve had a diverse range in the last year, but this hasn’t lead to bigger audiences.)

is it too old-fashioned to insist on in-person attendance? Should we allow people to connect to talks on G+ or skype? Or at the least, allow our guest speaker to connect remotely via the net?

Perhaps we should just publish the talks a fortnight beforehand, and then meet to discuss them?

Is the problem that we have too low a profile, and might we be better off joining a larger group en masse and forming  a specialist subgroup?