For the Love of Fandom...

Perhaps you've heard an odd word bandied about at conventions: FIAWOL. It means Fandom is a Way of Life. Your con co-chairs have never been embarrassed to own up to our fannish propensities; after all, fandom is the world writ small. In other words, we see little difference between NASCAR fans, quilting fans, dog show fans, orchid fans, NFL fans, and media fans. All share a single-minded pursuit of happiness rooted in their particular topic of interest. Perhaps that's why we've never really spent a lot of time drawing a line between our fannish lives and our so-called "real lives." Fandom has been a cornerstone of our existence since we were small. We were relieved to discover organized fandom and explore everything from Trek and Starsky & Hutch in the late 70s, on to The Professionals and Blake's 7 in the 80s, and The Sentinel, Stargate, and too many others to name in the 90s and the new millennium. We've created art, fanzines, and songvids; we've attended cons too numerous to count; we've written plays, crafted costumes, acted in fan skits, and spent everything but the rent in fannish dealers' rooms. Given our devotion to fandom, it only seemed natural when one of our favorite cons retired that—of course!—we would pick up the reins and put on a show. And what a show it has been!

Eastern Media Con1 was a big gamble: Your con co-chairs were betting that even as fandom becomes more and more high-tech and electronic, there would still be enough interest in face-to-face fandom to risk outlaying the huge sums of money and time required to run a convention. We worried about the number of conventions that were shutting down for good and became concerned about the future of face-to-face fandom, so we took it upon ourselves to do our part in keeping the convention tradition alive. It wasn’t easy and EMC1 was not a venture that wound up in the black financially, but we were buoyed by the enthusiasm and support of all those who participated. We had a great time and were thrilled by all the fans who let us know how much the super-friendly, collegial atmosphere of games, food, and activities made them feel welcome and willing to attend EMC2.

Eastern Media Con now had excellent word of mouth. Also, a few long-standing cons retired not long after ours began, so we felt hopeful that, if we continued, membership would surely grow. Despite the remaining debt, we once again signed on the dotted line with our con hotel to put EMC2 in motion. All indicators have told us that EMC2 was a hit with folks as well. The outpouring of fannish feeling for EMC was gratifying beyond measure. We had an even better time doing it the second time and were proud of what we had achieved with our convention. And while our original debt remained, thanks to the generous support of many of you, we came close to breaking even with the costs of EMC2, insuring that at least our debt did not grow too much worse. But membership never grew as high as it needed to be in order to offset the rising costs of hotel space. Still, Eastern Media Con remained a desired event for many fans and on their behalf, and for the love of fandom, which we still possess, we were ready to look seriously at throwing EMC3. These past months since EMC2 ended, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to see if, indeed, we could make EMC3 a reality.

Unfortunately, we kept bumping headfirst into a reality of a different sort: You don't have to be a news hound or a monetary wizard to know that our country—no, the entire planet—is experiencing a financial crisis unprecedented since the Great Depression. Everyone knows someone who has lost a job, a house, or a retirement fund. Despite the bad news that seems to get worse each day, your con co-chairs were determined the show must go on.

We met with the Newark Hilton. We investigated other hotels. We met with folks in charge of hotels in Staten Island (which ended up being an even MORE expensive proposition, since, despite Staten Island being a tiny, out of the way borough, these hotels consider themselves part of the New York City market, carrying all the exorbitant costs associated with that). We explored and got bids from other hotels in New Jersey. We even made inquiries and did some initial legwork to investigate the pros and cons of moving our con as far as Maryland. All of this exploration takes hour upon hour, week upon week of time and effort on our parts. While we won’t say we have investigated every possible hotel that exists (and we’re sure folks are filled with suggestions of ‘what about here’) we can say that we have surveyed a good sampling, as much as our time constraints allow.  

We negotiated the best rates we could manage. We've parleyed with other fans running conventions, only to have our worst fears fortified, rather than soothed. We bandied about different cost-saving ideas such as raising the membership prices, lessening our space, changing the dates, minimizing the con to the most basic Relax-a-Con setting, initiating fund-raisers, and many more. But no matter what we came up with, we continued to be faced with the same dilemma: If EMC2 could not greatly increase membership after a successful EMC1 and in a much better economic climate, then how could we count on EMC3 being able to draw enough folks for us not to lose more money during this economic crisis?  Thinking about the economy got us to wondering, "How many fans can really afford to attend our con this year?" Once we sign on the dotted line with any hotel, we are guaranteeing a certain amount of sleeping rooms, along with a certain amount of money for food and convention space. If we don’t get enough members to pay that, it comes out of our pockets and huge penalties may even incur.

Your con co-chairs have talked and talked about EMC3. We've cried and tossed in our sleep. We love fans, especially the great folks we've come to know better at EMC. We love putting on our con and we want to keep putting it on till we're too old to totter across the stage. We feel a deep commitment to the people who have supported us and participated in Eastern Media Con, and are grateful to the folks who have made it quite clear what this convention has meant to them. We feel an even deeper commitment to fandom as a whole. This was not an easy decision to make and it is one we come to with heavy hearts and a lot of angst. 

Yet, finally, we have come to the difficult and extremely painful decision that Eastern Media Con3 must be put on hiatus.

Now what does that mean, EMC is on hiatus?

Put simply, we are adopting a wait-and-see policy. There is a new administration in Washington that all of us—regardless of party affiliation—hope can jump-start the economy. If there are signs of significant economic turn-around, it is possible that we could launch EMC3 later this year. Another hope is that we can reschedule EMC3 for sometime in 2010, perhaps in early spring or late fall, depending on hotel availability.

In the short term, we plan the following:

-To keep the spirit of Eastern Media Con alive, everyone is invited to a big EMC bash at MediaWest*Con 29, held over Memorial Day weekend in Lansing, Michigan. There will be mixers, games, prizes, vids, and food—so bring your crazy hat and get ready to party!

-Our website <EasternMediaCon.southroad.com> will continue to be updated with EMC news and events.

-The official EMC discussion list <EasternMediaCon@yahoogroups.com> will remain open and active with your continued support.

 -And you can always contact us to discuss EMC at:

Again, please believe this was not a decision we have come to lightly. Eastern Media Con has become a part of our beings and a part of our hearts. And while our intention is to come back, bigger and better than ever, we want to pause for a moment to thank those who have contributed so much to EMC. First, our beloved ConCom: Sonia, Merlyn, Flamingo, Lorraine B., Lorraine G., Cyanne, Candy, and Lois who gave tirelessly of themselves and without whom this con never would have seen the light of day. Also, thanks to all our helpers/adjuncts who volunteered time and endless enthusiasm to make EMC a success, in particular Val, Michele, Natlyn, Kim, Rosemary, and lanchid. To everyone who led a panel, played a game, mailed in some art, set up a dealer’s table, filled out an Albie, contributed a vid, brought a friend, sent a supportive email, pinned a star on a fellow fan, got up early for a mixer, or just had fun at EMC: We love you, we appreciate you, you made a big difference, and we thank you! The core of Eastern Media Con has always been its spirit of community. Long may that live.

For the love of fandom, and that includes all of you, here's hoping the economy recovers quickly.

EMC will ride again!

Sincerely Yours in Fandom,

Glow, Kath, and Tiger