With the outbreaks of Coronavirus happening around the globe, and getting bigger here in the United States, there have been A LOT of cancellations. Book fairs, Comicons, festivals…you name it, at least one of them has been cancelled. And here’s the thing – it’s for the best, in light of how contagious this virus is – and here, the U.S., how little actual information our government is giving/getting. But there’s a flip side to those cancellations as well.
When a city hosts a big gathering of any sort, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars up for grabs – maybe even millions, depending on the size of the gathering. For example, let’s use Emerald City Comicon in Washington. All the vendors that are signed up have to stay somewhere, eat food, get around, and will probably do at least a little bit of shopping. All the visitors that come to SEE the vendors are doing the same thing, and probably even MORE shopping. So when it gets cancelled, you have a ripple effect of people who start losing money.
First, the con itself – all the funds it’s put towards making this “the best year yet” are potentially gone. There may be some refunds available, but due to the timeline, they may not be in full. Some funds may not be refundable at all. Then you start looking at the people who were *working* the con, all of them losing income. On to the vendors, who are now faced not only with a *huge* source of income drying up, but for many, travel expenses that can’t be recouped. Hotel costs that have been paid, plane fares that cost even *more* to change (or re-book completely), etc. Many of these artists rely on the income from these large cons – they do two or three or four a year, and that’s a significant portion of their yearly pay. In addition to the artists, you have the food and drink vendors that *also* counted on the income from this con.
Once you get outside of the those *directly* impacted, then you have the outer ripples in this pond. The hotels that typically are fully booked, the restaurants around the con area where artists and customers alike will eat. The Uber, Lyft, and taxi drivers that would have been kept busy from dawn until dusk – and probably later. The grocery stores and corner markets for those who may have booked an Airbnb.
From there, the people who *work* in those hotels and restaurants. The front desk personnel, the maids, the cooks, the wait staff – all the people whose hours get cut instead of being boosted, who may be depending on those extra hours to help make ends meet.
It really is a ripple effect, and there are thousands of people in any city where these large events have been cancelled that will be the worse for it. So, may I suggest that – whenever possible – you take some of those funds you would have spent attending the function, and use them to support one of the artists or restaurants or shops? Even the newspapers suffer due to removal of advertising, so maybe purchase a subscription that can be gifted? The main point, however, is to be thoughtful about how many lives are being impacted when something like this is forcibly cancelled, and do what you can to try to help offset that. If you have a favorite artist that you visit at every con? Visit their website, or look for any pop-ups that might be taking place (online or otherwise) and support them there.
For Emerald City Comicon, I know there’s a hashtag that’s been going around on twitter – #ECCCOnline – where vendors and pop-ups and other information can be located. For SXSW, go to the website and find artists that you were interested in and support them by purchasing something from them. For book fairs/festivals, buy a book or two from an author that was scheduled to appear. Let these people know, as best you can, that you support them and that you have their back.
Coronavirus is a shitty thing, and right now the world is a mess. But these artists put their hearts and souls into what they make, hoping that it will bring someone pleasure. Now it’s *our* turn to show them it’s appreciated.
And lest you think I’m preaching, but ONLY preaching…