About this project
We’ve all been to cons. We do so because we are proud geeks, who love geek culture and want to celebrate its awesomeness with others who love it as much as we do. We go because we relate to the characters, so much so that some of us dress up like our favorite heroes or villains. But often times, we don’t see the incredible inclusiveness that is in our communities as a whole represented at cons.
Many cons, no matter how well meaning, limit the idea of inclusion to a diversity panel, never really integrating the spirit of an inclusive world into the fabric of the con itself. This can leave many feeling isolated and marginalized, in essence, like the outsiders so many of our heroes tend to be.
Universal Fan Con grew out of the idea that a con should be a space where everyone can see themselves represented in the genres that they love. From the panels, to the celebrity guests and activities, all the way down to the parties, we believe that the con experience should be a celebration of the differences that make us strong. In this time of political divisiveness rooted in fear, Universal Fan Con is here to celebrate the power of inclusion and representation.
Universal Fan Con will take place on April 27th through the 29th of 2018, at the Baltimore Convention Center. Our goal is bring together at least 10,000 of our closest geek friends from all over the nation to have fun and celebrate geekdom in a place where all are welcome. The world of fandom is one in which personal identity plays a pivotal role. From cosplay to live action role play (LARP), identities of race, gender, and sexual orientation contrast with identities of genre, era, medium and myth.
Yet, so often festivals that are focused on “diversity,” end up being divisive, more about forming exclusive groups instead of building an inclusive respect for differences. For the fan community this is all too common. Universal Fan Con provides an inclusive forum to celebrate intrinsic personal and interest-based identities, offering different groups a place to revel in fandom, while also experiencing the kick-ass otherworldly immersion that an epic con can bring!
Universal Fan Con is more than just a geek event, it is a movement. From New York to Hollywood, the buzz surrounding what we're doing is growing, and exceeding even our expectations. Our team is currently in talks with several celebrity guests who are excited about joining Fan Con. As such, we are super excited to make our first of many celebrity partnership announcements with this Kickstarter.
Lamorne Morris from Fox’s hit show New Girl will be partnering with us to help bring a lot of fun and excitement to the Con. As well as hosting panels and special events for fans, as a comedian, we are fortunate to have Mr. Morris’ leadership in presenting and shaping a fun and interactive fan experience. This is just the first of many celebrity announcements. Stay tuned as there will be more exciting news to follow in the upcoming weeks and months leading up to the Con!
As you can see, we’re already off to a great start, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done. We have a goal of raising $25,000 to assist with some of the costs associated with making this the best Con experience ever for the fans. Your support of as little as one dollar will help us in creating the largest and most inclusive Con ever!
In honoring your support of our mission, every one of our kickstarter backers will be recognized as a stakeholder and receive an inaugural Universal Fan Con Commemorative Program and personalized thank you note, but that's not all. Because a Con is a participatory experience, all of our rewards are crafted around not just getting you to the Con, but ensuring that you have an amazing time while you're there. We encourage you to check out our rewards and see where you fit in!
Whether you are a fan of anime, comics, gaming, movies, or television, or you just believe in our mission of inclusion in a time when intolerance seems to be on the rise, we ask that you join with us and support this kickstarter. Not only will you have an amazing experience, you will help us take one small step closer to making the world just a little bit better for everyone.
Support Universal Fan Con, because being a fan is truly a universal experience.
Our team has more than a decade of combined experience in media, marketing, consulting, project management and coordination, as well as logistics and IT in both the private and government sectors. They are also popular and established in their thriving communities and brands that they have built from the ground up.
Risks and challenges
With planning any event, let alone a large scale undertaking like a Con, there are always things that can go wrong, or at the bare minimum, not as expected.
One of the major concerns that impacts a new Con is awareness and support from the fan community. One of the ways we're seeking to overcome this hurdle is by working with a marketing firm. Our partnering firm will assist us in optimizing our social media and web based outreach, as well as assisting us with branding and outreach to media companies, who will raise the profile of our Con. By strategically targeting our efforts and leveraging our resources to focus on marketing, we increase our ratio of success. The more people who know about Fan Con, the better.
Another limitation of first year Cons is an inability to attract talent based on size and budget. Fortunately for us, we have a large team with years of industry experience and personal relationships that are being leveraged in order to make this project a success. As a result, we already have several celebrity commitments, and more under discussion. This has grown beyond personal or professional relationships. We are excited that people see our vision and want to participate in our mission of infusing inclusion into a Con.
New Cons, and some old Cons for that matter, struggle with managing logistics. We are extremely fortunate to have IT professionals, logistics specialists, and event planners on our leadership team. Together, we are developing technological, app based, and position based solutions to make this Con the most fluid, and attendee friendly in the industry.
Lastly, in crafting a Con that would be representative and welcoming to all, as a team, we thought that it was important that the Con be financially accessible. Some Cons have become so big that they are now cost prohibitive to fans. Universal Fan Con has consciously kept prices low in order to attract the largest crowd and ensure that everyone will have an opportunity to be included in the fun.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes they are. We will reach out to backers in advance of the Con with the details of their reward. If you pledged with the intention of giving your reward to someone else as a gift, let us know at that time and accommodations will be made to ensure the recipient you identify receives the award as you intended.
Universal Fan Con prides itself on being accessible, open, and fun for everyone. We want to be accommodating and affordable as well. So feel free to bring your children up to the age of 12 (sorry teens) and they will be able to enjoy the Con as long as there is an adult attending with them!
The simple answer is YES!
Everyone who is eligible for a photo op reward will choose from the available and participating celebrities. We do not choose your celebrity photo op for you. However, we may choose the day and time of photo opportunities based on celebrity participant availability.
The bios represented on the Kickstarter are those at the head of our respective organizations that have come together to build out the Con, but only represent a fraction of the staff and brain power associated with this undertaking. Our head of planning and special events has years of con planning experience from the volunteer side, all the way up to strategic planning.
In addition, we are building a team of collaborators with con experience to assist with making this a dynamic con. If that's not enough, our overall team consists of individuals with extensive business, event planning, and development expertise. This includes, but is not limited to IT, federal security agencies, national non-profits, financial services firms, universities, and the Whitehouse. Members of our team have event planning experience, having worked on national events, like the televised Whitehouse Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.
We chose the Convention Center based on its location, overall accessibility and amenities associated with being in the Inner Harbor. The Convention Center is ADA compliant, in addition, we will have staff on hand to assist any patrons with disabilities. Two of our team members are disabled veterans, and this is something that was very important to them.
We also chose the Baltimore Convention Center because we wanted a space that we could grow into and make a permanent home. Our goal is to have Universal Fan Con become an annual event with a permanent home in Baltimore.
Marketing is key, especially for a new con. In addition to leveraging our own lengthy list of media contacts, we have also retained the services of a PR and marketing firm whose sole responsibility is to promote this Con over the next 16 months. We are all putting Universal Fan Con forward because we're fans, and we love the fan community. We want to create a space where all fans can see a little of themselves on stage when they come through the doors.
Cons are expensive, especially a convention center. The Kickstarter won't be enough, so how do you plan to pay for everything?
The kickstarter is about more than just raising money, it is our coming out party. The Kickstarter also allows us to begin building out our mailing list for announcements through our newsletter. The Kickstarter is the first step in the process of building meaningful communication with fans. Funds from the kickstarter will go toward offsetting many of the costs that we will incur. We have already secured the venue, so the show will go on!
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