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A convention built to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness in fandom has been postponed at the last minute, and would-be attendees are channeling their understandable frustration in constructive directions.
Universal Fan Con, which was originally funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, released the bad news on Friday. Just a week before the event, organizers decided to postpone it, citing a "financial deficit." As of now, it's unclear when the conference will be rescheduled. The status of attendee's refunds is also unclear.
It would be enough under other circumstances to cause well-justified social media uproar. Instead, attendees have used the occasion to organize and help support vendors and artists who will likely suffer a rough financial blow as a result.
Activist, public speaker, and co-founder of the Safety Pin Box, Leslie Mac, for example, started the #UniversalFanConVendorLove hashtag to help support vendors negatively impacted by the event:
"I started #UniversalFanConVendorLove to help gather those who are trying to support the vendors who are out of money at this point," Leslie Mac told Mashable. "I've offered my own website shop page to anyone who doesn't have access to one & facilitate shopping of goods for them to customers (my business already does that - I am cofounder of @safetypinbox)."
"Right now my energy is to help gather those who are trying to support the vendors who are out of money at this point," Mac says.
"We started up the Universal Artist Alley on tumblr shortly after we learned about the postponement of the conference," Kamikaze told Mashable.
"As independent creators with plans to vend at Fan Con, we deeply understood how much of a financial hit this would be for our peers. We started seeing an outpouring of offers to boost affected artists on Twitter, but quickly realized there was no central place for all those links to live. That's when we spun up the Tumblr account!"
How apropos that the CityOfBrotherlyLove step up with such a heartfelt offer 😊 You are appreciated! But your offer, noble as it is, pulls folks out of the wonderful city of Baltimore & runs counter to efforts being made in city to rectify this disaster. @BaltimoreMD @MayorPugh50 https://t.co/NbmlMwaBMI
— Black Heroes Matter® (@BHMatter) April 21, 2018
"It's hard to say for certain whether fans will show up for the show should it return. This has been a pretty big credibility hit," Kamikaze Comic told Mashable. "That being said, the amount of community energy points to a real hunger for events like this and it is our sincere hope that this is rocky start to something truly fantastic!"
While Universal Fan Con organizers cited their money troubles as the reason for postponing the event, demand for the conference was high. When Fan Con first released a Kickstarter in 2016, for example, the campaign ended with more than $56,000 from backers, well above the $25,000 target.
"We launched a Kickstarter in late 2016, to which we received overwhelming support," Fan Con's website states.
"We built up our internal teams, comprised mostly of volunteers who still held full time jobs while supporting families ... 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."
We recognize that people have poured time, effort and money into making this convention a success and many are in precarious positions as to their plans for the next weekend. We will do all we can to help establish some resolutions
— FanCon (@UniversalFanCon) April 20, 2018
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