The first-ever Universal FanCon, a diversity-celebrating event that was set to take flight from April 27-29 in Baltimore, Maryland, has been postponed due to what organizers describe in a statement as “a financial deficit that will not allow us to operate the convention within budget.”
The event, conceived as a way to bring people of all backgrounds together over their shared love of everything in the “pop and geek culture space,” was abruptly pulled from the Baltimore Convention Center’s weekend schedule after being promoted all the way up until a week before the doors to the three-day celebration were set to open.
So far, Universal FanCon organizers are describing the change as a postponement and not an outright cancellation, but there’s no word yet on whether, or how, the event will land on some future date and venue. SYFY WIRE has reached out to organizers for comment.
Via Kickstarter, Universal FanCon had raised more than $50,000 since launching in 2016 as the “[f]irst multi-fandom Con dedicated to inclusion, highlighting Women, LGBTQ, the Disabled and Persons of Color,” according to the campaign page. (Disclosure: SYFY WIRE had committed to be the event’s official Wi-Fi sponsor.)
On April 20 — a week before FanCon’s opening — a series of announcements about the postponement began hitting the event’s Twitter account. The late-breaking news came as a shock to fans who’d already made their travel plans, and, expectedly, some of them aired their frustrations via Twitter.
A lengthy statement on Universal FanCon’s official website offers an explanation of why planners postponed the event, accompanied by a FAQ that attempts to address would-be attendees’ questions concerning refunds, transferrals, and even flight cancellations and pre-reserved hotel bookings.
“We are working diligently to come up with solutions,” organizers stated, adding that although “there have been missteps in communications and errors, we are working to ways to refund the money you have invested in us.” The website states that the team is working to find a way to return money to ticketholders, with a pledge to update fans with forthcoming specifics.
A lack of funding appears to lie at the heart of the postponement. “Currently we are in a financial deficit that will not allow us to operate the convention within budget,” the website explains. “Accordingly, we have made the decision to postpone and reschedule FanCon so we can put forward the type of event our fans deserve."
Another convention, Wicomicon pop-up 2018, is already taking shape to cover the same weekend. The pop-up is being organized by The Nerds of Color and Hard NOC Media founder Keith Chow, Black Heroes Matter creator Uraeus, host of The New Release Wednesday Show Patrick Michael Strange, Carbon-Fibre Media executive producer and Innovation Villages: Baltimore executive director André Robinson, Be A Boss CEO Elijah Kelley, and SYFY WIRE’s very own contributing editor Karama Horne.
The Great Philadelphia Comic Con is also offering Universal FanCon ticketholders free admission for April 27, or a half-price admission discount on April 29. In addition, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society is pledging membership discounts and vendor tables for the upcoming Balticon next month, and will open its clubhouse for an impromptu fan social for Universal FanCon ticketholders on April 27, which would have been the event’s opening day.
Stay tuned for updates on whether Universal FanCon will find a new place farther along on the calendar. In the meantime, you can get acquainted with the pop-up (including where it got its name) over at the Wicomicon 2018 info page.