> ....  Or maybe the conf has gotten more expensive such that we need more
> money and thus more incentive to sponsor. (First priority -- try to keep the
> conf from getting more expensive so this doesn't happen)....

Costs can be kept down by securing sponsorships, reducing what is provided,
and/or by increasing registration fees. The reality is that people have
gotten accustomed to major costs of c4l effectively being subsidized. Space
and bandwidth are very expensive and when these are generously provided at
low or no cost, it makes c4l look much cheaper than it is.

That there was only one proposal this year is scary, and I suspect part of
the reason there weren't more is because there the number of institutions
willing/able to absorb these costs is limited.

To be healthy in the long run, the conference needs to cover real expenses.
Getting a few dozen people in a room is easy using resources at hand.
Securing a venue that provides hundreds of people with food, fast internet,
etc is significantly more complicated and requires someone to sign a
contract that involves considerable financial exposure.

 ... We want our program controlled by ourselves as peers, not by the
> funders.  I think we're all pretty keen on sticking to this, and have not
> needed to violate it in past confs to get funding.

I don't think that's a barrier to funding. Those who help make things
possible deserve recognition whether their domain name ends in .com, .edu,
or whatever and recognition doesn't imply content control. Anyone interested
in sharing their knowledge and learning should be welcome. Vendor
participation done properly benefits attendees and vendors alike, so we
should be able to find some common ground.