Interview by Dreux Blalock, Michelle Lehr, Rizwan Merchant, Nikki DuBois


dashcon logoDreux Blalock:
Alright, let’s get this thing started then, shall we? We’ll start off with the easy ones.

Question One, What was the process for planning this event?

Cain Hopkins:
Well, I will allow Megg to address this question, as I came in as an owner after she did. That way she can explain the beginning, middle, and end all in one.

Dreux Blalock:
I can understand that

Megg Eli:
Well, it isn’t quite that straightforward. The process developed as time went on, getting slightly better with each evolution. In the very beginning, as best I know (since it was before I was involved), it was really just a large group of people sort of think-tanking about this thing they thought would be cool. There were fandom committees whose job was… still unclear. There was a fundraising effort there, but I do know it went fairly poorly. A lot of them ended up dropping out or being weeded out as planning continued because, to be quite honest, despite their best intentions and hard work, most of them had no idea how to go from concept to reality. Slowly, the large group was distilled down to fewer and fewer people, but most of them shared a really strong desire to see this happen and had the work ethic we needed. I implemented as much structure as I could, despite often running into roadblocks. After all, at the time, I was in a 50/50 partnership that didn’t have the luxury of a majority. But, that aside, we brought in a company called Experient in the fairly early days, and they helped us reach out to venues and hotels, event services companies, etc. They were incredibly integral in getting us as far as we got (if that makes sense). Contracts were signed and, maybe surprisingly, a lot of payments were made. In the process of dividing up labor internally, though, it was difficult to get everyone on the same page sometimes. We had to trust one another (from about 8 hours away) to be doing everything right, and obviously, somewhere along the line, that stopped working. Regardless, I spent most of my time staffing volunteers and panelists, making schedules, writing a murder mystery game, and an assortment of other random duties. I worked very closely with our admins and support staff, and that took up the vast majority of my planning time. Contracts were handled elsewhere, and I’ve never so desperately regretted a decision. I don’t know if that answered your question, unfortunately, but the “process” was a bit more convoluted than I would have liked from the very start.

Megg Eli:
If you want a more specific answer about planning, you might have to rephrase the question itself to be more specific. This was a very long, arduous process that started in early 2013.

Dreux Blalock:
As a Convention Organizer myself, I can understand the process. It pains me to say that the team always starts off huge, and ends up with just a handful running the event

Megg Eli:
Exactly that. Yes. But, during the event, we have picked up several people who we can’t wait to add to staff. They’re tried and true workers who can definitely handle stress. And having an already stress-tested team is awesome.

Dreux Blalock:
The company Experient, are they considered a PR Firm, or just a firm that makes connections for things like conventions?

Megg Eli:
Experient is a meeting planning and event management company, and leads the industry as one of the best-known and most respected brands in the world.

You can read more about them here: http://www.experient-inc.com/.  I don’t believe we used them to the best of our ability, and we’ll be employing more of their services in future years.

Dreux Blalock:
That is what first year conventions have to learn: how to use their assets to the best that they can.

Megg Eli:
Agreed

Dreux Blalock:
Now, as for the next question, it ties in a little with why I asked about Experient. With the recent situation with all of the bad press, is DashCon looking into getting a PR representative, if it did not already have one?

Megg Eli:
We didn’t have one for 2014, and I’m going to let Cain speak to the future of that sort of newly developing department.

Cain Hopkins:
Actually Dreux, we already have added one to staff and we are also in talks with another PR representative that we are looking to bring on for future events as well. With an entity as big as ours, and especially with how many people we reached over the course of the weekend, Megg and I both agreed that a PR team, if you will, will be more appropriate than a single representative. These individuals are coming into this situation with full knowledge of what has transpired and are more than equipped to handle situations like ours. Furthermore, they are people we know and trust.

Dreux Blalock:
That is a beautiful explanation. Thank you, Cain.

Dreux Blalock:
If you would allow me to backtrack a little, Megg, you had stated that over the course of the planning, committees were formed, then just fell off the face of the earth. You also spoke of how you already have many people who are interested in helping with staff in 2015. Now, without naming names, could you give a rough estimate of how many staffers were let go during the planning stages, and if any at all were let go after the convention?

Megg Eli:
We started with roughly 22 committees of 5-7 people, plus an admin team of 7 or so. Sorry for the lack of specific numbers, as much of this was before my time. Once I was brought in, we began asking that committees proved their use via a few fairly simple tasks, and those that didn’t were cut. In the end, there were probably only about 5 or 6 committees left, and most of them only had 1-3 members in total. Some of that group still didn’t make it to the actual event for one reason or another. The admin team went through multiple turnovers, losing an estimated ten or so people along the way. When our event went live, our upper management consisted of three owners and  three admins. Post-event, there are now two owners, Cain and myself, and one admin, Angela. The others were either let go or stepped down when the stress of the event proved to be too much. I can tell you that the third owner was explicitly terminated.

Dreux Blalock:
Would you both agree that the weeding out of the committees and of the upper staff management, thus streamlining the process, will produce a good working environment, and thus a good product for DashCon 2015?

Megg Eli:
Absolutely. Distilling our group down to those who are willing, ready, and capable of working under high stress situations is the key to making our event a success in future years. Those of us who remain are looking forward to a much more open, honest, and transparent environment, where information is shared freely and we are all accountable to one another.

Dreux Blalock:
Let’s move to the event on Friday night, which is one of the big elephants in the room. Can you tell me just what you were feeling when you found out about what the hotel was demanding? Also, after this experience, will you be looking over the contract with your hotel for 2015, to make sure there will be no “amendments” made by the host hotel?

Megg Eli:
As for me, I won’t say I never looked at the contract. However, I only looked over it at signing (well over a year previously) and wasn’t in charge of handling it from there on out. What the hotel was demanding was, as we’ve come to learn, well within their contractual rights. There were a number of oral changes made, and I deeply regret the lack of documentation there. However, we’ve already been in touch with our 2015 venue, which is actually the Indianapolis Convention Center rather than a hotel, and re-read over that contract as well. The payment structure is very accommodating and easy to follow with 100% of the rental paid for a full 30 days prior to the event. We’re all on the same page, with a chain of invoices that clearly outline when and how to pay them, with all ‘at event services’ being due after the event closes.

Regarding how we felt in the moment on Friday night, I personally felt betrayed and upset. I was given misinformation about the reasons the demands were being made, and that misinformation was deeply unsettling. Both Cain and I were led to believe that the hotel had made certain remarks about the type of clientele we brought in– very judgmental things about our attendees –and that was the reason they were trying to ‘force us out.’ Of course, I’ve since learned that none of that was true, and I’ve apologized to the hotel endlessly, both privately and publicly. I’m happy to report that we still have a great working relationship with the Renaissance Schaumburg, including their staff and management, and no one is harboring hard feelings about the things that were said during the panic. In fact, we’ve since learned that they consider our group one of the most fun, energetic, and respectful groups they’ve ever had the pleasure of hosting. The only reason they were so accommodating from the start is because they loved having us there and, despite everything, we loved being there. Cain has a different scope on the Friday night situation, though, as he was otherwise engaged during part of the debacle. I’ll let him explain that, though.

Cain Hopkins:
For me personally, I was actually getting ready for a panel. I was set to be playing “Gamzee Makara” in the “Let me tell you about Homestuck” panel. (You know, grey paint takes time to do by yourself.) That’s when I received a call from our former partner informing me that I needed to report to the staff office immediately. When I asked what was going on, she stated that it was an emergency that could not be discussed over the phone. Obviously, upon hearing this, I dialed up Megg and asked what was going on, to which I was told roughly the same thing with the exception of being informed it was a situation pertaining to the hotel. It was then I asked if it would be better for me to forgo the panel and help address the issue, or if I was to still do the panel. I was told to continue getting ready for the panel and that my doing the panel was not going to make things any worse than they were.

I then proceeded to make my way rather quickly downstairs to the staff office only to be told that the hotel, “did not like our attendees” so had basically redacted on their oral arrangement they established with our former business partner, and were fixing to kick us out unless we were able to come up with the rest of the money in order to pay them the $20,000. We later found out that the hotel had made no such claim towards our attendees, and in fact, were delighted to have them there as guests. At the time, though, I was devastated and heartbroken. I know first hand what it is like to be judged primarily upon your appearance, so the thought that this was because our attendees were not in formal attire or did not look “professional” enough devastated me. I was angry and confused, but had to go and perform my panel regardless of my emotional state.

After the the panel ended, I made my way back to the staff office only to then be told that staff members were being kicked out of their rooms. Quickly, we made our way upstairs; I jumped in the shower to remove what paint I could and changed into proper attire. I then proposed to Megg that we gather everyone in the ballroom to inform our attendees of the situation. I felt as though they had a right to know, and if anyone was going to help us out of this crisis, it would be the people who cared and had supported us all along. She gave me the green light and I went about gathering volunteers to go and clear out panel rooms and direct everyone into the ballroom for an emergency announcement.

Distraught would be the closest word I could say as to how I was feeling at that point in time. That, and furious. I have spent nearly every waking moment since February with Megg, working on things for DashCon and the idea of all our hard work going to waste was nothing short of heart-wrenching. After everyone was gathered, I made the announcement to our attendees, based on the information I had been supplied. I was astonished to see the amount of support and concern that came from those who were there. Within 45 minutes of the announcement we had the money, just in the nick of time. We are still astonished by the outpouring of support for us, and in times like these they are the only things that keep us going.

As for moving forward, I can already tell you we are in a far better position for 2015 than 2014. We have addressed and removed the issues that made 2014 so difficult and we are not looking back. We have learned so much from our mistakes and are carrying that information into planning our future events.

Dreux Blalock:
Okay, still on the same topic – there were promises of reimbursement for those who donated. There are also reports of those donations not being reimbursed from people on the internet. Can you go into a little detail on how the reimbursements will commence?

Megg Eli:
We have an email address set up and dedicated solely to requests for donation refunds. PayPal donations, since they’re easily tracked, should be no problem to refund. Cash donation refund requests, however, will close in a few short hours, and then we’ll be tasked with weeding through those requests in coordination with both legal and accounting. There are no guarantees on whether or not we’ll be able to verify the validity of those requests,and we won’t know much more until a time at which we can sit down and pore over everything we’ve received. If more money is requested than we received, it’ll be more than obvious that someone isn’t being truthful. At this point, we can only hope that there aren’t going to be a few dishonest people who choose to ruin the chance at reimbursement for everyone else.

Dreux Blalock:
Can you please give me the email address for the article?

Megg Eli:
Of course. The email address is dashcondonations@gmail.com, and refund requests close at 11:59pm EST tonight (Saturday, July 19). (ED: donations have since been closed, so please do not email asking for a refund)

Dreux Blalock:
Okay Megg, Cain. You both stated that there were rumors of the hotel not caring for the attendees of the convention. Has there been any investigation or proof of where these rumors started?

Cain Hopkins:
I am going to let Megg address this question

Megg Eli:
As best I can tell, since I’m now 100% certain that this didn’t come from the hotel itself, the rumors started and were perpetuated by someone who is no longer with DashCon. The most unfortunate thing here is that those rumors were so easily believable. We wouldn’t have been the first convention to see its attendees face discrimination. Rather, it happens quite often from what I’ve read online– not that I’m encouraging anyone to believe everything they read on the internet. But, in a state of panic, it wasn’t difficult to convince us that such things could have been said, and we didn’t have the luxury of time to investigate those claims right then. This is one of the many reasons that certain parties are no longer with the company.

Furthermore, Cain and I were not the ones communicating directly with the hotel during that time. Everything we were told was via a DashCon representative whom we felt we could trust at that time. We’ve since learned otherwise.

Dreux Blalock:
Very well. Moving along to the next little topic that everyone is chewing at: Welcome to Night Vale.

Megg Eli:
Ah, Night Vale. Alright. Do you have specific questions?

Dreux Blalock:
The first question I have to ask about them is this: Where the hell were they staying that they had a $2300 hotel bill?

Megg Eli:
I literally have no idea. We were only told that it was in downtown Chicago. The exact location was never divulged, and we never asked.

Dreux Blalock:
Understandable. Using this little hotel bill experience, do you think DashCon will be booking hotel rooms in the host hotel from here on out in relation to media guests?

Megg Eli:
If I could go back in time and change how I handled the situation, I would have told them that there would be the contractually agreed upon hotel rooms waiting for them at our host hotel, and if they chose not to use those hotel rooms, that would be on them. It was absolutely my mistake that we tried to be so accommodating. Of course, that’s also taught me that we’ll never work with anyone who doesn’t have a manager again. We had five groups of guests throughout the planning process (one was cancelled well before the event), two with managers and three without. The two with professional management were very happy with their DashCon experience and, as last I heard, would be more than happy to return. The three (including the group that was cancelled early on) without professional management… well, that’s a very different story, as you probably already know.

Dreux Blalock:
I can completely understand the idea of needing to deal with management; does this mean that DashCon will be looking at going through a talent agency to book their media guests in the future?

Megg Eli:
We actually got Doug Jones from a talent agency, and we would have loved to get everyone else from one as well. Unfortunately, some of the guests we wanted simply weren’t part of any talent agency, which meant we had to contact them privately. We will definitely be sticking strictly to guests who use talent agencies (or at least dedicated managers) from this point forward.

Dreux Blalock: Very well. There are many in the community who stay silent in public forums that can  feel your pain in relation to dealing with guests akin to WTNV. Would you think that WTNV decided on their actions Saturday in reaction to the previous night’s debacle?

Megg Eli:
I think the previous night’s debacle played a huge part in their reaction. The situation certainly wasn’t helped by the email response I begrudgingly posted in our press release, though. Upon finding that particular bit of communication, Cain and I were horrified by the level of unprofessionalism displayed by a member of DashCon staff, only furthered by that person’s lack of information sharing so that Cain and I could have potentially made sure their payment was both complete and in the requested form. Sadly, we were more than capable of having their payment in the proper format if we’d been told about the email from the night before, but we weren’t given enough notice to pull it together. Worse yet, we didn’t find out until a couple of days after the event’s close that they did ask in a timely enough manner that we could have saved the situation if we’d known.

Dreux Blalock:
Moving past WTNV, lets get to some more fun questions. The first and foremost being: will there be a much bigger ball pit in 2015?

Megg Eli:
Actually, there is quite a lot of news regarding that ridiculous travesty of a ball pit, which now has its own Twitter account: https://twitter.com/travelinballpit. First and foremost, though, YES! There will be a much bigger and better ball pit at DashCon 2015. In addition to this, we’ve been invited to take up residence in GenCon’s Anime and Animation Track venue with a traveling “DashCon Ball Pit.” We’re still sorting through the final details, but it looks like you’ll be able to find us and the new ‘traveling ball pit’ in the Indianapolis Westin from August 14-17.

Dreux Blalock:
That is completely and totally awesome! I am glad to see that there will be a much bigger ball pit for 2015. I must say, that in light of the debacles that this first year has brought into the light, you two, as owners, seem very enthusiastic looking forward to 2015.

Megg Eli:
We are. This is what we love to do, and we’re prepared to prove we’re actually good at it, too.

Cain Hopkins
We are very excited for 2015 and its improvements not only for ourselves, but for our attendees as well.

Dreux Blalock:
My final question has a couple of parts, if you allow it. The first is do you feel that the criticism of this past year’s event is getting out of hand? The second is that had the closing ceremonies not been taken up with explanations of the conventions problems, what would you have said as a closing address? And finally, do you, the DashCon 2015 Event Organizers, have anything to say to your past and future attendees?

Megg Eli:
I think I’ll ask that we both answer this one separately and without one another’s input.

Dreux Blalock:
That is perfectly fine with me.

Megg Eli:
Do I feel that the criticism on the internet is getting out of hand?

Absolutely. 99% of the people who are criticizing the event weren’t in attendance. They’re simply jumping on a hate bandwagon and giving into the sensationalism of all of it. Our attendees, by and large, had a good time. They tearfully thanked us and asked that we stop apologizing. I’ve had very understanding and enthusiastic parents contact us with words of encouragement, saying that they can’t wait to bring their children back. We had cosplayers state that this was the first convention where they felt safe and didn’t get harassed. Our panels were well attended, and we’ve received numerous compliments on the content of them. Out of hundreds of hours of programming, I think we only lost about 10 total– some of which was due to panelists who didn’t end up showing up for reasons still unknown. The couple of failures we faced were monumental, but everything else went really well, and anyone who says otherwise wasn’t actually there. Those aren’t delusions or denials, either. We had a room full of people cheering us on and asking for more when we closed down Sunday, and I take that applause and joy with me as I move forward. I’ve had bad moments– times when everything feels beyond insurmountable –but then I remember having people tearfully telling me that, despite everything, they considered DashCon their favorite convention and can’t wait to buy a badge for 2015.

If there had been no need for a Q&A, what would I have said?

I would have thanked everyone for coming and making the weekend one that I would never forget. I would have thanked them for their love and support and told them that I couldn’t wait to see them next year. I would have expressed that we couldn’t have done any of this without them, and that they had our endless gratitude. Basically, I would have told them exactly what I did tell them, it just wouldn’t have taken nearly as long to say it. None of that is untrue in light of what actually happened, and I mean every word of it. I just hope that sentiment didn’t get lost in the shuffle of all the questions that needed answering.

Anything to say to our past and/or future attendees?

Thank you! We wouldn’t have had any event at all without your support and faith in us. You were the reason we did this, and you’re the reason we’ll keep doing it. Yes, we know we’ve lost the trust of some of you right now, but we’re more than willing to work to get it back. There were plenty of doubters when I came into this organization, and we slowly showed them that we were serious. Post-event, plenty of people are back to doubting us, and that’s fine. It’s not undeserved. All we’re asking for is the chance to prove ourselves again. Keep following. Keep asking questions. Keep watching us. We’re now accountable to all of you online, and we consider that a very good thing. So long as you’re watching us, you’ve giving us the necessary audience to once again show that we are well-intentioned and above board. To those who volunteered or sat as panelists, our gratitude isn’t nearly enough. You all went well above and beyond the call of duty, and you took a lot of the stress out of an otherwise unmanageably stressful situation. It is all of you who will bring us back from this. I can talk all day long about what’s happening behind the scenes, but that means very little at the moment. It will take the testament of those who attended and want to attend again to combat most of the allegations being made. While my words are meaningless right now, yours are golden. If you enjoyed DashCon and are willing to say so, please do. If not, I understand. I know the hate mail some of you have received, and I’m sickened by it. I’m so sorry that participating in DashCon has made you a target, especially since you only wanted to go and have a good time. You deserve better than the hate you’re receiving, and you deserve a better event than the one we were able to give you in the end. However, we plan to spend the rest of our lives making this up to you by improving your experience every single year that you give us the chance to do so. You were the most amazing, kind, generous, and polite group that I’ve ever seen at a convention, and everyone took notice. Please know that you were the highlight of my weekend, and I’d be ecstatic to host any of you again and again.

Cain Hopkins:
I mean, freedom of speech is something I will choose to support for my entire life. It is a privilege that I hold near and dear to my heart because I was fortunate enough to be born in a country that allows such things. That being said, I cannot stop what people say about us. Critiques, comments, etc; most things that are negative are from people who were not even present. So in short, yes, I think it is a bit out of hand. However, there isn’t anything I can do about what people say. What I can do, however, is prove them so wrong by making next year one of the best conventions they have ever attended if they choose to attend.

If none of the problems had transpired and closing ceremonies had taken place as they should have originally gone, we would have thanked all our attendees for making this possible. We would addressed the volunteers/panelists that worked their butts off, and it would have literally been a fond farewell, thanking everyone for the outpouring of support. Finally that we would hope to see them back again for next year.

I personally have this to say to our attendees: thank you for everything. Attendees of old, you are veterans of Dashcon 2014, and although we experienced some hiccups, people managed to make friends for a lifetime and enjoy themselves. We hope that you can forgive us for the mistakes we made and bear with us as we correct them. We want you to come back and have the time of your life. We want you to be in a safe environment where you feel as though you can meet those you have interacted with online securely. We want to give you the best experience yet and I assure you, 2015 will go off without a hitch.

For new attendees, the internet has made things seem like a disaster, however, I encourage you to go and speak to people who were actually in attendance. There are so many wonderful people who were there who will be happy to tell you their personal experience. The joys they had, the panels they attended. We admit to making mistakes – we are not dismissing that, in fact we are taking blame for it head on. We are/have fixed a good majority of problems already and are taking what we learned from this year by full force. Mistakes made will not be repeated, and we will do whatever we can to rectify the damage that has been done to your trust in us.

 

 

 

  • Casey Cohen

    This reads as an example of everything you shouldn’t say post-convention if you want to maintain any semblence of professionalism.

    Terrible PR, terrible interview, a fantastic example of how not to react to legitimate criticisms.

  • Casey Cohen

    Dashcon admin changed the rules halfway through to ensure that attendees wouldn’t be able to seek reimbursement for the failed Welcome To Night Vale panel. This wasn’t something that was in place from the beginning – it was a deliberate choice that they made halfway through in order to ensure that it was attendees (and not themselves) that were put at a financial disadvantage as a result of their own sheer incompetence.

    You seem to have made a deliberate choice to ignore genuine criticisms of this decision – “moving past WTNV, lets get to some more fun questions” – and it suggests that either you failed to do your research before this interview, or you have some sort of vested interest in painting these two people in a particular light. Either way, this is not informative in the slightest. It reads as a stunted attempt at PR, more than an actual interview.

  • Dreux Balin Blalock

    Hi! How are you doing Casey! I am the Interviewer and the Author of the Article. The questions were given to me by the Staff of Anime Secrets, and I do believe that this explains so much. As a Convention Organizer myself for the past 15 years, my article was in the light of trying to show what each and every convention has to deal with. Nothing was Biased. I did what anyone would do and go to the horses mouth for the situation.

    Trust Me, I can tell you right now, having worked with groups that do not use professional management is where you get the problems that WTNV present.

    As my Article showed (If you actually read it), a break down of communication is what caused everything to go wrong. Instead of going on the attack, look towards the situation with a mind that is open, and not closed.

    Thank you for your Criticism though! It is always welcome :D

    • Casey Cohen

      Hi Dreux,

      You seem to be interested in responding to questions so I just have a few more for you that no, weren’t shown in your article.

      1. Why did Dashcon change their rules halfway through the convention in order to ensure that attendees wouldn’t be able to claim a refund on the Welcome To Night Vale panel? They became aware that Welcome To Night Vale weren’t going to be able to perform as promised, so they took deliberate steps to pass the loss onto con-goers rather than administrative staff.

      1.1 While on the issue of Welcome To Night Vale, Joseph Fink stated that Dashcon’s account full of half-truths and leaves out a lot of stuff that happened. Why did Dashcon publish private correspondence without permission? Was that a professional thing to do?

      2. Dashcon ran an IndieGoGo campaign in 2013 that promised donors a range of prizes. None of these were sent out, and some were actually used as prizes at the convention itself (along with hotel mints). Are donors ever going to be sent what they paid for?

      3. Random Acts, the charity associated with Misha Collins, officially released a statement requesting that Dashcon stop associating with them, that “we did not have any formal partnership in place with DashCon” despite Dashcon claiming otherwise, and “Subsequent emails to the individual asking that both the misleading language be removed and that we be given an accounting of any funds collected with a date when they will be transferred have gone unanswered”. What happened to the funds raised? Will Random Acts receive an account of the funds raised?

      4. Why did Dashcon not have egal permission to show Pacific Rim?

      5. Why did panelists have their panel descriptions changed without their consent? A lot of the criticisms directed at the panels (whether fairly or otherwise) were based on offensive descriptions that the panelists never actually agreed to.

      6. Why did Dashcon assure vendors that there would be 3000-7000 people
      attending? Surely they knew how many people bought badges ahead of time.

      7. Why did the artist’s area have no security, despite artists being assured otherwise? Why, when artists requested a refund on the costs of running a table at what turned out to be a disaster of a convention, did they have to wait four hours to speak to an admin (despite being told to wait 30 minutes) and were the given $40 instead of the $300 they paid?

      8. Do either Megan or Cain feel any remorse for requesting that underage attendees throw physical money into a bag being passed around the room? Did it occur to either of them at that point that maybe this was an inappropriate thing to do?

      I look forward to hearing your answers to these questions, as they were not covered in your article above. Thanks!

      • Allan Petersen

        Wouldn’t mind hearing the replies to these questions as they seem pretty matter of fact to be replied, and also pretty vital to the entire situation!

        • Jason Robitaille

          I too would be interested in these answers specifically, as they are key to understanding/explain much of the legitimate issues peoples faced or witnessed.

      • Dreux Balin Blalock

        I am currently working to set up a follow up interview to answer these questions. thanks!

        • Raoul

          You may also ask why they feel that they can put on a second year when they shafted their attendees, who as a note, were there mainly to see Night Vale, paid a good deal extra, and then were denied seeing them, despite having the funds? May also want to ask why they denied refunds to the attendees who paid to see Steam Powered Giraffe, when they told the band that they would indeed refund those individuals.

          If you (as a convention organizer) crunch the numbers, then you can see that they walked away Scott-free with close to 6 figures. No remorse, blaming anyone but themselves, and now deliberately using Night Vale as an excuse to get rid of “non – professional” guests…definitely off to a great start. They made off like bandits, plain and simple. Also, it’s fraud that they informed, in writing none the less, that they had over 2,000 pre – registered attendees, and guaranteed 3-7k attendance to their dealers, artists, and guests.

          Lastly, their “no refunds policy” is against the Terms of Service for PayPal for event ticket sales. Ask them about that.

          • DaraSue

            Oh yeah, since the gentleman above raised the subject (and as long as we’re pretending the author is an actual journalist and not a friend of Megg and Cain’s doing a puff piece) a couple more questions for the follow-up:

            1. Is it true (as another commenter stated, and has been rumored elsewhere) that Megg drew a salary for her position?

            2. If so, how does she rationalize paying so little attention to details that this fiasco was allowed to happen, when running DashCon was literally her one job?

            3. Is she still collecting a salary from DashCon funds for next year’s alleged event?

            4. If so, how does she justify this as remotely ethical when DashCon could instead be using that money to refund people who paid for an event that was not presented due to her mismanagement?

        • Casey Cohen

          Copying some of these from Tumblr, because people continue to ask valid questions that they’re not receiving answers for. Assuming that the formatting for this works out.

          1. For that alleged $2300 Night Vale hotel bill: How many people from Night Vale traveled to Chicago? How many rooms did they occupy? What were the room rates at the hotel where the Night Vale folks stayed? For how many nights were they billed? Any ancillary fees attached by the hotel?

          Night Vale has been on three different tours, and is heading to Europe this fall. So many others have been able to accommodate them easily. How then do their costs here compare to the cost of the rooms made available at the Renaissance Schaumburg? What would the net difference between the rooms be?

          For that matter, what price range is the Renaissance Schaumburg compared to other convention venues? If expensive, why did Dashcon staff think that it was appropriate to book such a venue for a first-time con with no guarantee of ticket sales?

          A journalist would be thinking these questions and pressing Megg for answers to see if the figures added up, rather than just asking incredulously and snidely where they were staying that it cost so much. A journalist would also have pressed Megg further when she sad she didn’t know and they never asked. “Why didn’t you know and why didn’t you ask?”

          2. Regarding your claims that WTNV is ‘unprofessional’ for not having an agent, that’s blatantly false. They have booking agents for both North America AND Europe, and a seperate agent again for media enquiries. They literally have agents on two continents. All this information is readily available, so why didn’t you check this before printing the interview?

          Also I believe they have a literary agent as well (for the upcoming WTNV novel with Harper Perrenial).

          3. Meeting planning and event management firms, if they have world respected brands, don’t come cheap. How much were they already in the hole to Experient before any funkiness with the hotel and WTNV went down? How are Dashcon planning to continue to pay for these in the future, considering their gross financial mismanagement so far? If Dashcon claim that they didn’t use them “to the best of their ability” then how exactly did they use them?

          4. I’ve attached a screenshot of a conversation one of the Dashcon committee heads had with a Dashcon admin – the entire thing can be found on augustinesycamore’s tumblr. I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to link things or not, let me know if I am and I can post links to the entire thing (it’s incredibly illuminating). Do you think that “but that means legal work, which I am not interested in” is indicative of a wider culture of legal incompetence in Dashcon staff, considering that both Megg and Cain failed to read multiple contracts?

          5. The official head of the Dashcon Doctor Who committee is on record as saying that WTNV were “actual trash” “special snowflakes” and “unconscionable”, that there were “no bank payment issues”, that WTNV “decided that being patient or trying to work with the DashCon staff was below them” and that WTNV now “keeps lying about it on their social media accounts” (as above, links can be provided as requested). Can Megg or Cain please explain how it’s acceptable that someone officially associated with Dashcon is conducting themselves in this manner?

          6. Your article says that “refund requests close at 11:59pm EST tonight (Saturday, July 19)” but the publishing date for the article is Monday, July 21. How is this meant to help people who were financially affected by Dashcon’s actions.

          Very much looking forward to seeing these questions answered.

          • Dreux Balin Blalock

            Casey! Thanks for all of the new questions!

            To give you the answer to #6 right here and now (Since it involves me and not DashCon) this is how it went:

            I interviewed Megg and Cain last Saturday afternoon.

            My article was written and submitted by 7 pm CST Saturday.

            I pressed the Editors and site managers to get this published by Saturday Evening as it had Time Dated Material on it.

            Due to other things going on beyond my control (Again, I am just a free lance guy who did this interview as a Favor to Animesecrets) it was not published until Monday afternoon.

            For this, I apologize. I only wish it could have been published in the timely matter in which I wrote the article.

            As for the rest of your questions, I have them down to be asked at the interview that will be occurring late this evening/early tomorrow morning.

            I thank you for all of these, and only hope that the next interview and article will go up quicker this time!

    • Nina Mason

      Hi Dreux,

      I’m just curious–will you be doing a followup with those of us who are STILL owed money? I was a panelist and as per the agreement I signed with Dashcon (a volunteer panelist form), if I got more than 100 people in my panels in a single day, that day’s badge would be reimbursed to me. I had 50-60 in one panel and ~150 in another, yet in spite of FIVE contact attempts via both Tumblr and email, I haven’t even gotten a courtesy email. I have screenshots demonstrating that I should have been paid within 7 days of the end of the convention. It’s now, what . . . . three weeks out? Not a peep from the staff. They’ve abandoned their Tumblrs, the Twitter, and the Dashcon website.

      I’m not the only one, either. My fellow Ask an Avenger panelists have not been compensated and as of the time I write this comment there are 60+ people on Tumblr discussing the post i which I was advised to seek legal counsel by an official guest.

  • Sa

    tl;dr, softball questions, WTNV still isn’t to be blamed for the fuck-up also that hotel is a bit pricey but still mid-range – also wtf is up with not setting a limit up-front if there is one? Throwing Roxanne under the bus like that and still not owning up to their own incompetence and unprofessionalism is a total class act.

    ‘Can you tell me just what you were feeling when you found out about what the hotel was demanding?’

    Are you fucking kidding me? Eli was getting paid to organize this. How about ‘Can you tell me why you had to ~find out~ what the hotel was demanding in the first place’. None of the owners/admins actually having read the contract throroughly and being aware of what’s in there is just completely unacceptable.

    Not to mention them still sitting on the Nightvale money (they $3000 they didn’t pay after all) and not refunding anything at all to people who paid extra just to see that panel. I guess Eli’s making sure her salary for Dashcon 15 is covered in case pre-sales go down? Or the giving people a two day (!) deadline to request donation refunds which is rich coming from a group of people whose most popular excuse for bad communication during and after the con was ‘we were really busy for a few days and didn’t have internet and just came home there’s just been no time’. Figures that they would think their con attendees have no life, that makes me understand why they were so eager to accept the rumors about the venue ~hating them as legit.

    • Casey Cohen

      It’s really interesting (re: Roxanne) that as soon as Dashcon started getting negative publicity, the official Dashcon tumblr reblogged her biography but not the biographies of Megan or Cain (they had a series of biographies called ‘Meet The Admins’ or something).

      It’s like they wanted to make sure from the beginning that criticisms were directed at her, not them. She ended up changing her blog to avoid harassment.

    • kenjiandcompany

      $2300 didn’t sound high to me at all…I mean, off the top of my head I can come up with 6 cast members in WTNV (maybe more, I haven’t listened to that show in awhile) two writers, howevermany musicians and presumably a handful of techies and managers…that’s at the very least a dozen people, which works out to…a little over $200 a room? On a weekend in Chicago? Not a cost that should shock anybody.

  • Sara King

    continue to blame WTNV Megg: ” Of course, that’s also taught me that we’ll never work with anyone who doesn’t have a manager again” <– seriously? You have NO experience organizing and running a con. You and your other admins (no matter how hard you try to shift blame to these unnamed people and claim complete innocence) made this whole thing a disaster and the incompetence is somehow WTNV's fault for not having a manager? Pretty sure that their manager would have told them to walk too. This continues to be a complete joke. I'm hoping that other artists and "celebrities" you try to get for next year is well aware of the idiocy here and steers clear of 2015.

    • Sa

      If WTNV had a manager DashCon would probably face a libel lawsuit at this point. Also let’s not forget that WTNV making a detour to go to a fan-run first year con without any credit and established reputation was *them being nice*.

  • DaraSue

    Protip: when your attendees have fun IN SPITE OF your ineptitude and mismanagement, you don’t actually get to count that as a win.

    Let’s see, who do I believe is responsible for the WTNV fiasco: the creative team who have put on dozens of live performances without issues, or the clueless first-time conrunners who screwed up literally everything at the con? IT IS A MYSTERY.

    You know what else is a mystery? Why the people who had tickets to the aborted WTNV show haven’t contacted the IL attorney general’s office in droves, because I’m pretty sure it’s not legal in IL or any other state to advertise an event, sell tickets specifically for that event, fail to put on that event for any reason (especially incompetence on the part of the organizers) and then refuse to refund ticketholders’ money when the no-refunds rule was implemented after the fact and was not agreed to at the time of purchase.

  • Just an Anon

    There are a few things I would like to know.

    1. Roxanne’s biography was reblogged after things started going downhill and she was the only admin named by name in the apology. Why reblog her biography and only her biography? There were six admins, weren’t there?

    2. One thing I’ve noticed is that the admins have not taken any individual responsibility for what happened. What I mean by this is that they say that Dashcon as a whole has made mistakes, along with a number of individuals, but Megan and Cain themselves have not seemed to have done anything wrong.

    The issue with this is that in blaming other people it’s clear that they neglected to do quite a few things. I think the best example of this is in their explanation of the hotel. Here’s the quote from the apology:

    “We’ve looked into the contract, and it’s come to light that the ‘net 30’ terms that were described by a member of DashCon’s upper management weren’t correct. Whether that misinformation was deliberate or accidental, we can’t say for sure. We can only say that we’ve taken measures to remove the person who handled that situation from our company.”

    Not only do they blame someone else for not explaining the terms correctly, they suggest that it was deliberate. This contract involves the exchange of tens of thousands of dollars. How is this supposed to give us faith in Dashcon 2015 when the admins won’t take responsibility for the things they’ve neglected to do and instead blame it on everyone else?

    3. Before the convention ended you said you would be giving out refunds starting with the largest donations and working down. Why change it and make people email you to get reimbursed for the $17k?

    I’ll add more if I can think of them, but I’m curious to know what the answers to these are?

  • Dragonessa

    The fact that these idiots still have the balls to blame Welcome to Nightvale astounds the hell out of me. That and they also seem to be discreetly trying to take a potshot at Steam Powered Giraffe (the act that canceled way back early on as mentioned in the article, though not directly) because they too do not have a manager. They are a band run out of their own pocket and go to conventions frequently as their business. I heard that the convention however was still selling tickets to Steam Powered Giraffe’s concert despite not being there at all? I’m not entirely sure but that really ticks me off.

    In other news, these two asshats need to owe up to their mistakes and be honest with people. A god damn BALLPIT does not equal a proper refund for anything. The fact that they still refuse to compensate con-goers for their shit-fest of a con really says something. I heard that they were giving out refunds for the PayPal fiasco but I have not seen anything proving that this happened other than a supposed taking down of names of those who donated to get back to later according to posts I read.

    Basically, DashCon 2015 should not happen if these are the two idiots running the show.

  • OctoberSpirit

    Wow. I stand by my article. Dashcon fucked up big time.

  • OctoberSpirit

    Also, can’t help but notice that a lot of the harsher questions never made it to the interview. This was pretty biased in favor of the con organizers.

  • Casey Cohen

    Just in case we ever actually get the promised second interview, please check out this account of Dashcon from someone who flew in from Australia to help out and ended up having a panic attack after being treated abysmally. Megg and Cain should also read it and comment – what’s described here is nothing short of horrific.

    Of particular note is the part where the hotel “said that they were given a list of rooms which were no longer Dashcon’s responsibility to pay” and “they had been provided with a list of rooms that were no longer
    Dashcon’s responsibility to pay, but some rooms were still being paid
    for” (contradicting claims that it was a clerical error, which I don’t think anyone really believes).

    The account, for anyone interested – mjhellscream[.]tumblr[.]com/post/93196609316/our-experience-at-dashcon-2014 – I’m copying the text from this in case it doesn’t post properly.

    Also, when you do the second interview, can Megg and Cain please explain why people have not been able to get in contact with them regarding compensation and payment? The Dashcon tag on Tumblr is full of people trying to get refunds (for tickets, donations and tables) and it appears as though the admins have gone to ground. If, on the off chance, it is still possible for Dashcon attendees to contact either Megg or Cain, can you please clearly state how to do this – currently they’ve made it impossible to do so, with multiple emails from multiple people going completely unanswered (not even a courtesy ‘we acknowledge your email’ response). Beyond unprofessional.

    I know people on Tumblr are now awaiting your second article with great interest.

  • Casey Cohen

    For whenever we get the second interview, can you also ask why at least one Dashcon admin (Cain Hopkins) thinks that it’s appropriate for them to start up yet another convention while so many people have yet to be refunded, and so many legitimate questions still go unanswered. The text on the new website is the same, the date and venue are the same, the convention centre lists the new name but still has the Dashcon website listed, and the new name (Emoti-Con) was deliberately chosen because it’s difficult to search for words with dashes in the Tumblr tags.

    It shows a complete lack of integrity, and needs explaining. Still awaiting answers to previous questions too.

    For details, check here – princessparadoxical[.]tumblr[.]com/post/95622028457/a-dashcon-by-any-other-name-would-still-probably