UPDATE: April 21st, 2018: We are working diligently to come up with solutions. Of particular concern is how we honor your commitment to us. Therefore, though there have been missteps in communications and errors, we are working to ways to refund the money you have invested in us. We will continue to update on our progress.
There is an FAQ section at the bottom of this statement that provides answers to many of your questions. We may post additional updates in this space as we work on creating resolutions to your concerns.
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 and you, our supporters 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, as we prepared to do so the morning of April 20th.
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 recognize the pain and frustration that has been created due to this situation. We recognize the financial impact this decision has had on our stakeholders and supporters. We know you’re angry and we want to try everything possible to do right by the people that stood by, and continue to stand by us. We share our sincere apologies for our mistakes and how they have affected everyone.
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 info[at]universalfancon[dot]com.
Why are you postponing FanCon?
Currently we are in a financial deficit that will not allow us to operate the convention within budget. Accordingly, we have made the decision to postpone and reschedule FanCon so we can put forward the type of event our fans deserve.
Why did you wait so long to postpone the event?
The FanCon team worked really hard up to the last minute to put forward an amazing event. However, it became clear in our last team meeting that we would not be able to deliver the event the fans deserved without more time.
How long will the event be postponed?
Once we are able to fully assess our options, we will make an announcement.
Does this mean FanCon is canceled?
Not at all! FanCon and our mission remains the same! We plan to ensure that fans have a safe space to feel included and our goal is to make that a reality. We worked really hard to preserve the vision and experience that our fans deserve. We wanted to be absolutely certain that we wouldn’t be able to live up to our shared vision before we made this decision. We looked at all options up to the minute, and we decided that it would be better to postpone FanCon and ensure a great experience than to move forward and not be able to. We are currently postponing as opposed to canceling.
Why didn’t you tell us sooner? I found out through Twitter/ my hotel / a friend / etc.?
Once we fully understood that we could not move forward, we immediately went into action in building proper communications, building our statement, and this FAQ so all of our guests, affiliates, backers, and attendees could be notified first. Notifications were set to go out the morning of April 20th. Unfortunately room cancellation emails went out to attendees in the FanCon room bloc before we could properly inform everyone the same day. We had no warning that the partner hotel would share their cancellation notice in this manner, and resulted in us having to scramble to get something out to everyone as quickly as possible.
When you have an event of this size, there are a lot of moving parts. There is a protocol and process that has to be followed in order to get the word out to everyone that is even remotely affected. Unfortunately we were forced to share basic detail as opposed to our full explanation as quickly as possible due to the abrupt nature of the hotel cancellations.
On the day of the postponement, why was I still seeing ads for new guests, panels, and/or posts to buy tickets?
Unfortunately, we had scheduled posts that were not stopped in time, across our social media accounts.
I just paid for a flight. What happens now?
We sincerely apologize for the efforts and resources that went into your travel arrangements when you had an expectation to be at this convention. We understand how much that hurts.
You may have options to recoup some costs–please contact your airliners directly as some will allow you to cancel your flight without penalty and/or use the ticket as credit towards future travel.
What happens to my hotel reservation?
If you booked with one of our partner hotels, your reservation may have already been cancelled. If you did not receive a cancellation notice or are unsure, please contact the partner hotel directly. If you booked with a different hotel or lodging service, please review your booking info and contact them directly.
Many hotels will allow for cancellations in advance of stay.
I took vacations days off of work already. What happens now?
We’re incredibly sorry that you have set time aside to take off for FanCon, and recognize that it may have been difficult to secure time-off in the first place.
What happened to the Kickstarter funds?
The initial funding received from our Kickstarter was allocated towards securing space at the Baltimore Convention Center, initial marketing, and convention operations. Additional investments were made by the organizers.
What happens to the FanCon ticket I purchased?
We are determining how we can support refunds. We have emailed all ticket holders.
I purchased a gift ticket, how do I get a refund?
We are determining how we can support refunds. We have emailed all ticket holders.
I was a Kickstarter backer, what happens to my ticket?
We are determining how we can support refunds.
It’s too late to change my plans so I’m still coming to Baltimore. Where should I go?
We’re currently working with multiple organizations to see what alternate plans can be created for that weekend. We will have an answer for you by April 25th.
I shipped stuff to my hotel/convention center how do I get it back?
Please email us at info[at]universalfancon[dot]com and share the exact details of (a) your name (b) provide full description of what you shipped and the number of items/boxes (c) confirm if you shipped your items to a hotel(please provide full name of the hotel) or the convention center (d) your carrier and tracking information
We will assist in getting your items shipped back to you.
Where will the next FanCon be held?
We will provide an update on venue once we have a better understanding of our options.
I’m a panelist–what happens to my panel now?
We believe our program schedule was an amazing reflection of our values and those of our fans. If you’re a panelist and still would like to host your panel at our rescheduled FanCon event, we will welcome you.
I am a Kickstarter backer, can I still attend at a later date?
I was a scheduled guest, what happens now?
Guests and management team have been contacted directly regarding the next steps. We are still confirming that everyone has been properly informed. If there are still questions, please contact: info[at]universalfancon[dot]com
I was a vendor/exhibitor, what do I do?
Vendors/exhibitors have been contacted directly with further instructions. Similar to ticket holders, vendors/exhibitors have a guaranteed space at the rescheduled FanCon. We are still confirming that everyone has been properly informed. If there are any remaining questions, please contact: info[at]universalfancon[dot]com.
We are also exploring ways to help offset their expenses.
I still have questions, who can speak to?
Please contact us at: info[at]universalfancon[dot]com