Wednesday, 06 Oct, 11:00am
Postponing Kawaiicon 2
Hey hacker friends,
We are postponing Kawaiicon 2.
The short version is: We only want to run an in-person con, and right now it just isn’t safe for us to run it on November 12-13 2021.
We are going to postpone until mid-2022, and will share the dates as soon as we get them locked in.
In the meantime: get freaking vaccinated, and talk to your friends and family about getting vaccinated too.
The longggggg version is: We didn’t think it would be a Kawaiicon if people didn’t get to hang out with each other and talk shit and all that stuff when you’re not attending our awesome talks. Logistics are a pain in our collective asses every year and the plague has just made stuff worse (if you want things in time for Christmas, order them now!) and we’re gonna rant about them below in a wall of text most of you won’t read but wow did it feel cathartic to write:
Things we took into consideration in making this decision:
- Venue: Kawaiicon needs the 3rd largest venue in Wellington (just behind the cake tin and TSB arena). Finding a date that works is hard as heck, as it’s often booked well over a year in advance. We go through a lot of logistics, venue planning, and health & safety with the venue managers (which was already a bit to deal with pre-2020 - the tesla coil in 2019 alone required about 3 site visits and somewhat-hilarious risk assessment sign offs. Post the plague, H&S requires even more work and insurance cover). We hand over a hefty sum to Wellington Venues for the venue (did we mention we love our sponsors?), and cancellation fees are painful if we postpone out to a year.
- AV: The performing arts show we put on is supported by the most amazing AV crüe and an external AV company (who are very good sports about the terrible things that we make them do, and who we really don’t want to screw over). While the antics we put on are often dreamt up as part of the pre-con nightmares we have in the week leading into the con, everything else takes at least 2 months of planning to make sure we have the right equipment in the right place at the right time, and that everything is ready to get rigged the day before (or the day of if you lose your pack-in date to hecking Bill Murray shakes fist).
- Physical stuff: We always aim to have stuff like t-shirts, hoodies, lanyards, badges, stickers, etc made in New Zealand. Buying local is important! Not only is shipping within NZ a bit delayed because of recent lockdowns, but the global supply chains have also been disrupted. Each of the vendors we use for our merch had about an additional 2-week delay on getting our stuff made and shipped - which means we would have to order stuff 6 weeks out, when we don’t know if we’d even be able to have the ‘con. Our usual 4-week sprint to get things physically made pre-con would be extended by half as much again(plus the added factor of unsure travel plans and last minute changes).
- Speakers and hallway con events: When we plan to have other events running at the con (like our beloved Kuracon, CTF, etc), we usually get these pre-planned a few months out (before regret and event planning stress/memories kick in). We’re an international con these days, and as much as we hate to admit it we love our Aussie hacker friends. We tried to hold speaker announcements and CFP open for as long as we possibly could to just wait and see what was happening. It was pretty sad to cross off so many amazeballs submissions from our mates overseas.
- The crüe’s pity party: Yeah, we are the gluttons for punishment who keep volunteering to do this year after year, so perhaps we deserve little sympathy. But we are just that: volunteers. We have jobs, families, and are also coping (or, tbh, not-coping) with all the not-fun-times that are going on. We all unanimously agreed that we are always going to be an in-person con, and we have been trying to roll with the changes as best we can while also juggling a bunch of other stuff.
Our original date for our go/no-go announcement was 29 October and it required all of NZ to be in alert level 1; this does not look likely given the current situation in New Zealand. When you consider all of that stuff above - well, it puts us between a rock and a hard place. If we forge ahead, we risk spending sponsor money only to find the con might get postponed or cancelled further along.
By delaying the conference, we can extend our (very) tight timeline and attendees won’t turn up to something that the Crue is sulking about because it should’ve been better. We don’t have to stress you all out with last minute ticket sales and travel plans all while things still feel really uncertain.
If you have already booked travel / leave or other things in anticipation for the con, we sincerely apologise. This really sucks. Part of the reason we’re making this decision now is to avoid upsetting more people if things were to get delayed or cancelled this year. Hopefully you can either use that travel & leave for other things or get refunds.
Our first and highest priority is to keep our community safe, and the second priority is putting on a real kickass con.
This extra time gives the opportunity for folks to get fully vaccinated before the con, and for the rest of NZ to come out of lockdown. We also expect (hope) changes to travel restrictions next year, and this will be a big deal to some of our community who live internationally and might even mean we get to see more of your faces. Yay!
You will have to give us some time to explore all our options and get some plans locked in, but the con will probably run mid-next year (2022) if we win the cage match against the other penciled-in events. This is different to what we have done before, but! it means we can do all the things we need, to the high quality y’all love and enjoy, while also avoiding some painful cancellation fees (like the down payment on the only compatible venue).
While we are blabbering away on this long winded post - we shouldn’t miss the chance to say thanks to a few folks:
- Sponsors - You gave us cash to run a con (which is one of the more stressful things to worry about when running an event of this size) and we really appreciate it. Heck, a lot of you can’t even make it in NZ right now and you still sponsored. That is freaking awesome, and we appreciate the support.
- Speakers and CFP subbers - You have all been so patient which is honestly a huge help when we are running around like mad stressing about everything else. Our speakers have also been so lovely to work with, and flexible to us being unsure of what the state of the play was going to be. We appreciate you all too!
- All of the heckin’ lot of you - All the kind emails, IRC/Signal/Slack messages, in-person headpats of condolences (only at level one) - they all mean a lot. Y’all have been so supportive, and we really can’t wait to put on a con for you and see you in person!
So, yeah. It sucks, but the con will happen - just when it is safe. So stay tuned (and get freaking vaccinated g’dammit).
<3 and \m/ Kawaiicon crüe
Saturday, 05 Jun, 11:33am
The Kiwicon crüe is back!