by Transmute Jun
While the CoronaVirus (otherwise known as Covid-19) has made headlines for over a month, this week was the first time this disease directly impacted pop culture conventions. Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), which takes place in Seattle, Washington, postponed its 2020 event, with new dates yet to be announced. Only a few hours later, South by Southwest (SXSW), which takes place in Austin, Texas, was canceled. Both cons were scheduled to begin this coming weekend (March 12 and 13, respectively). Convention organizers did not make these decisions lightly. Multiple aspects were taken into consideration, including the health and safety of attendees, exhibitors, staff and talent.
This double-blow left fans reeling. Attendees had been planning for months, only to see everything disappear over the span of a few days, first as major exhibitors cancelled (such as Dark Horse and Penguin/Random House for ECCC, and Amazon and Netflix for SXSW) and then as the shows were themselves cancelled. Even as attendees are still attempting to get refunds on hotel deposits and airfare, what really weighs heavily on everyone’s minds is, what does this mean for other pop culture cons?
ECCC and SXSW were not the only cons scheduled for spring. FoCC members are planning to attend cons such as San Diego Rocket Con (March 21-22), Ace Comic Con Northeast (March 20-22), The Great Philadelphia Comic Con (April 3-5), and WonderCon (April 10-12). Right now, fans seem to have their eyes trained on WonderCon, as the next major event, and one run by Comic Con International (CCI), which also puts on San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), scheduled for this coming July. Like nearly every organization out there, CCI has announced that it is monitoring the situation with Covid-19 and will act accordingly if it becomes necessary. Yet the speed with which ECCC and SXSW went from viable cons to delayed and canceled events has many fearful that conventions might be off the table through the entire summer, or possibly as long as the rest of the year.
The devastation from a canceled convention is not just on the part of the fans. Convention organizers put a great deal of time, effort and funds into hosting these events, and the exhibitors, creators, and artists on the show floors depend on such conventions financially to support themselves. No one wants to cancel a convention, and the heartache is felt on both sides. This is what makes such postponements and cancellations a true tragedy: there are no winners, only losers.
So what does this mean for future pop culture conventions? Now that the precedent has been set, it has become clear that any con could be canceled, even behemoths such as SDCC or New York Comic Con. Fortunately, this is not likely to be the ‘new norm’. While there will possibly be more events canceled (or delayed) as a result of this potential pandemic, it will pass, and life will eventually return to normal. Fans will be able to attend conventions once more. Despite the disappointment that hangs heavy right now, it is important to understand that this too shall pass, and there will be future cons at which fans will gather. These events will be appreciated all the more, as we understand what has been lost.
In the meantime, FoCC Blog will be keeping an eye on future cons, and reporting on any cancellations, as well as celebrating events that are able to take place.
Are you concerned about the effect of the CoronaVirus on future cons? Join the conversation on FoCC.