Originally scheduled to run from Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29, Baltimore's Universal FanCon has been suddenly and unexpectedly postponed due to currently unannounced causes exactly one week before the event was slated to begin.
The multimedia fan convention had initially launched as a Kickstarter in December more than doubling its original $25K goal with over 1,000 backers. Hailed as a celebration of diversity in all walks of pop culture from television and film to comic books and cosplay, Universal FanCon was set to debut in the heart of Baltimore the last weekend of April boasting a wide variety of guests including Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), Phil LaMarr (Samurai Jack), and Greg Pak (Planet Hulk).
Shortly before 2pm ET, FanCon promoters sent out emails to guests and vendors announcing that the event had been postponed until further notice, with no cited cause for the sudden rescheduling. Alternate arrangements were said to be in the works for those affected by travel and hotel commitments for the event while attendees and exhibitors were promised to have a ticket and booth space for the rescheduled event at no additional cost.
Unstoppable Wasp and Sea of Thieves writer Jeremy Whitley, who was an announced guest for the event, tweeted a statement observing that the promoters had yet to publicly announce the event's postponement or update the event's website accordingly.
CBR reached out directly to Whitley to comment on his experiences with the event and its unexpected postponement.
"I do want to make sure that I say first of all that a lot of people have been affected by this and while I am absolutely against seeking anybody out to pile on, there are ton of creators for whom this is potentially cataclysmic," Whitley said. "People have paid for stock, hotels, travel, and tables - much of which they won't be able to be reimbursed for. Some folks have taken the time to put together a virtual artists alley on Tumblr where you readers can go support these creators, many of whom are from marginalized communities and could really use your help: https://universalartistalley.tumblr.com/."
He added, "Universal FanCon was a show I've felt passionately about since it was announced. It's mission as stated is one of diversity and inclusion, as compared to the gatekeeping many folks experience at cons. I was invited to be a guest of the show by one of their affiliates who was running guest relations for artist's alley. I met a few of the organizers at Awesome Con a few weeks ago and everybody was very professional and nice. The only hesitation I had with the show before today was that, when I returned from Awesome Con, I still had not received information about my travel and we were only a few weeks out from the show. I reached out to the show organizer I had worked with previously and they assured me that it would be taken care of within the week. It was not."
The Universal FanCon Twitter page finally posted a confirmation of the show's postponement, and as Whitley noted, "the tweets do promise an explanation this evening. So I am hoping that's promised in good faith."
Additionally, the email that had been sent out by the event organizers to Kickstarter backers notifying them today of the event's postponement did not BCC recipients meaning that the personal email addresses of all 1,187 backers were effectively shared with the rest of the recipients in the email notification.
A virtual artist alley for artists and vendors affected by the postponement has been set up on Tumblr separate from the event organizers to help readers support them and help cover expenses they had paid upfront in anticipation of the event.