god meets girl

what generation are you really?
interesting little quiz to see if you really are gen x....

...yep, i am.
posted by Paige @ 8:47 AM   0 comments

do any of you use skype? i just joined so if you do, send me a message!
posted by Paige @ 10:48 AM   0 comments

superman's nonprofit status
i know it has been a while...lots of changes - i moved here in the desert, still looking for a new place in san diego, been melting in the heat....yeah.

here's an interesting story though, merging the big convention this weekend with my professional industry.

Comic-Con's charity status draws questions

July 25, 2007

Mention “public charity” to most people and they think of homeless shelters and food banks. Spider-Man doesn't immediately spring to mind.

But the 38th annual San Diego Comic-Con International, which opens tonight, is registered with the federal government as a public charity, placed in the same general category as many schools, hospitals and churches.

As such, the pop-culture extravaganza, which generates about $5 million in revenue each year, is exempt from income taxes and pays less in city traffic-control fees.

That loss of money to government coffers means the public is, in effect, subsidizing an event that has become a massive promotional vehicle for new movies, TV shows, comics and toys.

The convention's status is legal and hardly unique. More than 130 yearly cultural events in California – Fleet Week in San Diego, this weekend's U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition in Imperial Beach, the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena – come under the same tax-free umbrella.

Some charity watchdogs raise their eyebrows at the appropriateness of it for Comic-Con.

“It is a real stretch to call a group whose purpose is to promote comics via a highly commercialized event a charity,” said Sandra Miniutti, a vice president for Charity Navigator. “How does that benefit the greater good of society?”

Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, also wondered about the public benefit. “The people who appear to be profiting are the pop-culture purveyors who have a great marketing opportunity there,” he said.

Comic-Con is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization. Groups in that category may qualify for exemption from federal income tax if they serve the public good, typically through poverty-assistance, religious, educational, scientific or literary programs.

Comic-Con organizers said their event, which last year attracted about 124,000 people to the San Diego Convention Center, qualifies as educational.

“We strive to inform the public that comics are as viable an art form as other art you may find in a museum, or in a gallery, or a bookstore or even a film festival,” said David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for the convention.

“In addition, as the medium has branched out to film, television and interactive multimedia, we offer a venue where the public can meet the actual creators in those fields and interact with them to further their understanding of this industry that has a historic and ongoing contribution to arts and culture.”

This week's convention includes more than 350 hours of seminars, workshops, and panel discussions, Glanzer said. Included are how-to sessions on writing, drawing, sculpting, idea-pitching and safeguarding intellectual property rights.

Scholarly presentations led by professors from UCLA, Ohio State, Duke and other universities will explore such topics as “Comics and Literacy,” “Gender: Bending Masculinity and the Image of the Hero” and “Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics and the Creation of the Superhero.”

But for many who attend, the main focus will be the trade show, where vendors sell comic books, action figures, posters and the like – some introduced for the first time at the convention. “Spawn” creator Todd McFarlane is scheduled to autograph limited-edition lithographs Friday. At one booth, visitors can climb into a cage with a life-sized creature from “Skinwalker,” a movie due out next month.

It's at the trade show where the convention's stated purpose to be “a forum for the historical and educational appreciation of comics and related art forms” gets a little fuzzy.

About $2.7 million of the $5.2 million in revenue Comic-Con generated in the 2004-05 tax year came from vendor-space rentals, according to the organization's most recent federal tax return. About $2.2 million came from admissions.

With expenses of about $4.2 million, the convention made a profit of $978,000 that year, according to the return. Because of its 501(c)(3) status, it paid no taxes on that net income.

Glanzer said being a charity “allows us to return any money made back into our event.” After a string of successful years, Comic-Con has about $3.8 million in net assets, according to its tax records.

Borochoff said a reserve of that size – roughly equivalent to one year's operating expenses – is appropriate.

Even though it doesn't pay taxes on its income, Comic-Con generates other tax revenue. Attendees who buy something at the convention pay sales taxes, as do those who eat at nearby restaurants and shop at local stores. Those who stay in hotel rooms pay bed taxes.

Comic-Con is the city's largest annual convention by attendance, generating what has been estimated at $32 million in income for area businesses.

That economic clout – and not Comic-Con's charity status – means the San Diego Convention Center is willing to extend certain favors. This year it reduced the rental fee to offset traffic-control costs, said Steven Johnson, vice president for public affairs.

As it is, traffic costs are already discounted because Comic-Con is a nonprofit. The city is charging the convention $22 per hour; the commercial rate is $35.

“The convention was born and raised in San Diego, and we want to keep it in San Diego,” Johnson said. Comic-Con recently extended its contract with the Convention Center through 2012, he said.

Glanzer said Comic-Con became a nonprofit in 1975, five years after its inaugural event, held in the basement of the U.S. Grant Hotel. About 300 people attended that convention, designed to widen public appreciation for what some felt was a misunderstood and dying art form.

The convention has grown steadily and is now one of the hottest celebrity-watching, see-it-first buzzfests on the planet, still guided by organizers who are more comics enthusiasts than business experts. Glanzer said he doesn't believe Comic-Con has re-assessed its charitable status.

Borochoff and Miniutti said maybe it should. The government, Miniutti said, “hands out nonprofit status like it is candy. There is very little barrier to entry, very little subjective review of public benefit and once an institution is established, very little oversight.”

Borochoff said it may be more appropriate for Comic-Con to be organized as a different kind of nonprofit, one without the same charitable requirements and expectations.

“It may be in the beginning this convention had more reasons to claim it was providing a public benefit,” Borochoff said. “The question now is, if they had to reapply, would they be able to get a favorable ruling from the IRS?”

Absent a re-organization, he suggested Comic-Con look at “giving something more back to society.” He suggested a fund to help struggling comic-book artists. “It would be nice if they had another aspect to what they were doing,” he said. “It would strengthen their case.”

Glanzer said Comic-Con provides exhibit space for up-and-coming comics creators and sponsors two smaller conventions in the San Francisco Bay Area at which new artists receive exposure.

Raphael Tulino, an IRS spokesman, said the agency does not comment on the appropriateness of charitable designations for specific organizations.

In recent years, though, when the IRS has looked at a charity, it has been most concerned about a handful of other issues, including excessive compensation for executives, he said.

That does not appear to be a problem for Comic-Con. It has two full-time executives, each paid less than $70,000 annually, according to the 2004-05 tax return. There are also 13 part-time board officers and directors. Six of the officers receive compensation ranging from $4,320 per year to $18,000.

posted by Paige @ 3:24 PM   0 comments

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