Flagship Maker Faires May Be Over But Making Will Not Stop

When call for makers opened up for Maker Faire Bay Area 2019, I had not planned to apply because any trip to the San Francisco Bay Area is an expensive proposition. But with encouragement from friends, I applied Sawppy and was accepted. I had a great time at the original and still flagship Maker Faire! The fantastic experience in San Mateo certainly made the dent in my personal finances easier to bear. But today we received sad news, something we heard whispers about before the event turned out to be true: Maker Media, the company behind Maker Faire, is in a state of insolvency.

While the company still technically exists and restructuring, the general trends that led to this point are undeniable: dropping attendance and sponsorship meant revenue is down, while expenses of operating in the Bay Area have continued to grow. There’s no corporate restructuring that will change any of those inconvenient trends. Maker Faire Bay Area 2020 (and beyond) are unlikely to happen.

People are understandably sad, and I share the feeling. But there are also people who declare this the end of the maker movement and I vehemently disagree. What we’ll lose is a commercial entity that sought to make a business out of organizing and channeling maker energy. It is an important and useful part, but not nearly the whole, of the maker community. Sure, it was great to have a concentrated focus of this energy in San Mateo for a single weekend, but that energy still exists and will find other channels of expression. Maker Media had already successfully franchised the concept out to many non-Flagship Maker Faires around the world, something they hoped could continue. But even if that could no longer be organized under a centralized Make banner, makers will continue to gather under various different names.

Creative resourceful problem-solving ingenuity is the mark of a true maker. The loss of a corporate entity will not change that. We lost a fantastic place to congregate but that is all. We are not going anywhere.

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