Earlier today, exhibitors, guests and panelists were stunned to find out Universal FanCon had been postponed only a week out from its scheduled April 27-29 dates at the Baltimore Convention Center. Late Friday evening, the organizers of Universal FanCon released an official statement about why the convention had been postponed.
The statement was sent out via Tweet, included below:
The statement, which can be found on the Universal FanCon website, reads:
As many of you may have heard, Universal FanCon has been postponed until further notice. It will not be held as previously scheduled on April 27-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center. This is an incredibly heartbreaking decision. Based on an evaluation of all the information available, it was decided that it would be irresponsible to move forward with our plans. Although we worked diligently to preserve the vision of an event that fosters true inclusion, diversity, and safety for all of our guests, exhibitors, and attendees; despite working tirelessly for close to two years, we fell short in delivering the event we envisioned.
To provide further context, FanCon began as a dream held by a few and grew in size as we spoke with like-minded people in the pop and geek culture space. Our members encompass many intersections of marginalized groups and we wanted to do what other cons would not — give us a true voice and platform on which to build an incredible event that catered to all of us. To facilitate that, we launched a Kickstarter in late 2016, to which we received overwhelming support. We built up our internal teams, comprised mostly of volunteers who still held full time jobs while supporting families. We spoke with various experts to gain insight into how to produce a convention and better understand the activities that needed to take place in order to execute this event.
As we built out our floorplan, invited guests, figured out lodging/travel arrangements, and confirmed activities, our costs started to grow exponentially. Unfortunately, the support we were anticipating in terms of ticket sales and sponsorships did not materialize. Accordingly, the organizers of FanCon made significant personal investments in order to ensure FanCon’s success. In addition to these investments, we worked to scale back the number of guests and limit the convention space to create a leaner and more efficient show. Sadly, this was not enough. If we were to have moved forward, the event would have been significantly diminished.
The strength of the chorus of unique voices that represents FanCon is of great value and we are devastated we couldn’t keep the convention on as planned. Further, we’ve made mistakes in the process of trying to inform all of our stakeholders (guests, exhibitors, panelists, attendees, kickstarter backers, etc.) and have caused significant inconvenience to many who trusted us. The announcement that originally notified everyone of the “cancellation” of the convention was due to a miscommunication from one of our partner hotels and was in no way supposed to be communicated in that manner. We are deeply sorry that the public did not receive information regarding what was happening with the convention from us first.
To help address the specific concerns that have been proposed, we’ve created an FAQ. This tool should help provide more answers and direction as to what happens going forward.
We are still incredibly dedicated to our communities, this space, and hope to come out stronger and wiser than before. We are here for you and we are available to answer any questions you may have that are not listed below at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is an additional Frequently Asked Question section for those who may have additional questions not answered or addressed by the statement.
Many have spent the day attempting to rearrange travel plans, make alternative arrangements, and sell off merchandise. There’s a lot more to talk about here and we’ll be updating this story as more information becomes available. You can read our previous coverage about the conventions postponement here.
UPDATE: Reactions from attendees have been coming in via Twitter. We’ve included some of them below, but the tone of the official statement has struck many as insensitive and uncaring to the many folks who are now out significant sums of money through no fault of their own.
This statement is bewildering. I cannot believe you would put this up. To tell people who have bought non refundable tickets that the organizers did too… is flippant, at best. And to offer no refunds… wow.
— roxane gay (@rgay) April 21, 2018
— Clarkisha Thee Auntie (@IWriteAllDay_) April 21, 2018
— Morgan Wilde (@songlin221) April 21, 2018