by Yun-Han Lin
I believe there more people that are more suitable to talk about this, yet someone must start.
Goodbye to Maker Faire Taipei
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Maker Faire Taipei (MFT), where there have always been uncertainties, has officially announced its suspension this year. As MFT, one of the most iconic event with the longest history in Maker culture, comes to an end, perhaps it is now a good time to reflect on the challenges that Maker Faire faces in Taiwan and its future.
MFT seen from the perspective of an old-timer
As a Maker workshop, we took part in MFT or other Maker events for 2 reasons: Being Part of a Community and Commercial Value.
Being part of a community refers to the opportunity to interact with other Makers or the general public. Even if there is no audience, simply chatting and exchanging ideas with other Makers is a great joy, which allows people who have been following our news to interact with us in person.
Commercial value would be the direct profits gained from the events, and every workshop and studio see this value in different ways. For us, the value lies in product sales and growth of subscription to our channel.
Personally, I think it was hard for the organizer to strike a good balance between these two goals. For commercial value, only those who can afford the high fees to rent a booth have a better chance to gain profits. As for being part of a community, the venue for MFT is usually too large, so there is hardly enough time for all the participants to talk to each other. I think an event with a certain opening hour only allows only Makers to visit each other and have a talk at their booths. On the contrary, seminars or exchanges held in the evening, like the ones at 2018 Mega Maker Day, were good occasions where participants can really connect with each other.
MFT seen from the perspective of an audience
Visitors at MFT can be divided into 3 categories: Makers with the same interests in certain areas, people who have come to see innovative creations and technologies, and those who bring their children to have fun. Although MFT can provide contents and materials that meet the needs of all 3 of them, there are also quite a few booths with contents that none of the people mentioned above want to see.
I believe that building categories for targeted groups of people and distinguishing 3 different exhibition areas that are clearly marked can be good solutions.
MFT seen from the perspective of a company
For the organizer, the priority is to make ends meet. The sources of income for Maker Faire are government sponsorship, corporate sponsorship, booth rental fees, fees from tickets and events, and event-related products. I don’t think it is appropriate to charge the booth rental fees and the tickets at the same time. Although is it possible to achieve this goal, it is still difficult to maintain such model before the event reaches a scale that is big enough to support this idea.
My ideal MFT for the future
Perhaps the suspension this year is a blessing in disguise as a great opportunity to start all over again to build an event of a smaller size that is more grassroots, where everyone can keep in mind their reason to become a Maker in the first place.