UPDATE: March 19, 3:00 PM

Convention Update: Otafest 2020

Dear Otafest Community,

At this time, we have made the very difficult decision to postpone Otafest until May 21-23, 2021. Otafest will continue to be hosted by our event partners Calgary Telus Convention Centre and Marriott Downtown Calgary in 2021.

When Alberta first announced its mass gatherings ban to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic on March 12th, 2020, we promised to remain transparent and communicative with you as we worked towards making a fully informed decision about what that would mean for Otafest. During difficult times like this, community is so very important, and we understand how many artists and small businesses rely on Otafest. Above all, we wanted to ensure we were making the best decision for both the Otafest Community and the future of the festival.

Three major factors have influenced this decision:

Health & Safety: Based on the information and timelines provided by the Province of Alberta and the Federal Government, it is highly unlikely that it will be safe to hold a gathering of our size in May 2020. We support the Government of Canada, the Province of Alberta and our health care system in their efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19. It is critical that we all play our part in this global strategy to save lives.

Funding: Otafest is a non-profit organization with the goal of providing affordable pop-culture events to our community. Unfortunately, the closure of casinos on March 17th has resulted in the likely loss of a significant amount of funding provided through the Alberta Lottery Fund. Coupled with uncertain attendance and increased economic hardship in Alberta, it is not fiscally responsible to run our festival in 2020. The longevity of our organization depends on responsible planning today, so that we may have an Otafest in the future.

Community: Otafest exclusively runs on love and volunteer power. We have no employees or compensated staff at all. While we have poured a lot of hard work over the past year into planning Otafest 2020, it was important to allow our planning committee members and volunteers to focus on their health, economic stability and families over the next two months as we fight this global pandemic.

Friends, this is a very difficult time for many people, and the convention scene has been hit very hard. Many conventions may no longer be able to run as a result of COVID-19. It was of the utmost importance for us to preserve Otafest for future years. We are very fortunate that Canada’s quick actions against this global pandemic have given us enough time to be able to transfer many of the festival’s costs to 2021, so that Otafest can continue as your favourite anime festival. We would like to thank our venue partners for their ongoing support, understanding and commitment.

We need your help. Otafest is a community festival, fully volunteer organized and staffed. Every dollar of your ticket goes directly into making Otafest happen every year. To support next year’s festival, your tickets, artist tables and exhibitor booths will be automatically transferred to our new dates in 2021. Refunds are available upon request – please see below for details. If it will not cause you hardship, please consider maintaining your ticket to Otafest in 2021 so that we can continue to provide you with the wonderful festival we’ve been giving Albertans for the past 21 years.

Most of all, please take care of yourselves. We’ll be in touch, ready to meet you again with smiles when the pandemic is contained – you will always have a home at Otafest. Stay safe, healthy, and don’t forget to love each other.

With love,
Stephanie Mok 
Chair & President
On behalf of the entire Otafest Planning Committee

***

FAQs:

Why next year?
After careful consideration of the availability of our venue and hotel, as well as our budget and time required to plan our festival, the best decision to ensure the successful future of Otafest was to postpone Otafest 2020 to our regular May long weekend dates of May 21-23, 2021. We will do our best to provide you, our community, with meaningful opportunities to connect in 2020 once the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

How will my ticket be transferred?
Your ticket(s) will be transferred automatically, there are no additional steps to take. You can use the exact same ticket with the exact same QR code for admission into our festival on the new dates. If you’ve purchased an Angel Pass, all your Angel Pass benefits will transfer with your ticket to 2021.

We understand that not everyone will be available to attend Otafest in 2021. If you are unable to join us, you may request a refund at https://otafest.com/refund until September 1, 2020.
*Please note that Eventbrite’s fees are not refundable.

How do I cancel my hotel room at the Marriott?
Otafest attendees who booked a hotel room with the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Calgary can change or cancel their reservation up until April 30, 2020. Please view the Marriott’s cancellation statement regarding COVID19 here: https://marriott-re-2019ncovc.com/.

Please use your Reservation Confirmation as sent by the Marriott to process your room refund online. This will be quicker than trying to phone the Marriott directly at this time.

Artist Alley:
Artists who have a table placement in our 2020 Artist Alley will automatically have their placements and fees transferred to our new dates. Artists may opt-out of the transfer by emailing artist.alley@otafest.com before September 1, 2020, in which case a refund will be issued.

We will not be transferring the waitlist to the new date, so artists who are currently waitlisted must reapply. Applications for Artist Alley will reopen in November 2020.
*Please note that service fees are not refundable.

Exhibitors:
Exhibitors currently accepted in our 2020 Exhibitor Hall will automatically have their placements and fees transferred to our new dates, the rate for their booth(s) locked in at the current 2020 rate regardless of any price increases that may occur in 2021. Exhibitors may opt-out of the transfer by email to vendors@otafest.com before September 1, 2020, in which case a refund will be issued.
*Please note that service fees are not refundable.

Will I still get to meet the same guests in 2021?
We will be inviting and will happily welcome all of our guests back to Otafest in 2021, subject to availability. No matter our lineup, we promise to work hard to create the most memorable guest experiences at Otafest 2021, and will release more information about our guest lineup beginning in the fall.

Will the panel I submitted be considered for the new dates in 2021? 
When panel applications open for 2021, we will email all panelists and invite you to resubmit your content. At this time, we will not be carrying over panel acceptance into 2021.

Volunteers: 
Our volunteer application form will be reset for the 2021 year. We will be asking all volunteers to re-apply when the form opens again, and will send an email to everyone who applied in 2020 to let them know when the form is open for 2021. We thank you again for your dedication to helping make our festival happen and hope you can join us next year.


UPDATE: March 15, 12:00 PM

In an effort to continue open, timely and transparent communication with our community and stakeholders, we would like to provide some updates. 

On Saturday, March 14, Otafest’s Board of Directors met to discuss our ongoing commitments to community, as well as contingency planning in the event of major event disruption (this included an analysis of steps required in the unlikely event of a full festival cancellation). In addition to this, our planning body also met to navigate the continuously changing waters of the event landscape. 

As it stands, Otafest is still scheduled to go ahead as planned on May 15-17, 2020. We await further information from our provincial authorities regarding the ongoing mass-gathering ban. In order to effectively plan for our event, the Otafest team has committed to the following:

  • Pending new information from the Government of Alberta, Otafest is committed to giving no less than 2 weeks’ notice in the event of a festival cancellation. 
  • In the unlikely event of festival cancellation, Otafest will make refunds available for all ticket-holders, exhibitors and artists. Alternatively, Otafest will also make available the option to transfer your ticket, exhibitor booth fees and/or artist booth fees to Otafest 2021.

As of today, Otafest still plans to operate our festival as scheduled. That said, some event adjustments will occur. These may include and are not limited to, an increased social distancing plan between all festival attendees, reduced printed materials and operational collateral, schedule changes and other event plan revisions. We trust our community will understand some business interruptions and changes in the event flow.

We are committed to acting in the best interest of our community.

A special note to exhibitors & artists: We acknowledge that Otafest is a huge financial contributor to your livelihood and businesses. Should your circumstances have changed and you are unable to continue with Otafest due to the recent pandemic environment, Otafest will refund your fees upon request. We do anticipate our event to go ahead – as we have committed to our public audience, we will also give our exhibitors and artists a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice in the event of a cancellation.

A special note to our panelists: We are still working hard on sending out approvals. We appreciate your patience and understanding as some delays are expected during the current situation. Should you need to change or modify your plans to provide programming for us, please contact us right away. You will not be penalized for future events. We value your health and safety. 

A special note to our volunteers: As we are still scheduled to move ahead with our event in May, we hope that your commitment to volunteering has not changed. That said, if for any reason you find yourself unable to continue with your volunteer commitment, please advise us right away. You will not be penalized. Your health is of the utmost importance. 

We would also like to advise our volunteers that Otafest volunteer training will go ahead as scheduled but will be moved to an online-only format. Please stay tuned for more details. 

We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. 

Stephanie Mok
Chairperson & President


UPDATE: March 12, 5:00 PM

In response to the provincial directive that all mass gatherings of 250 people or more be cancelled, Otafest is currently awaiting further information and clarity from Albertan officials. It remains our commitment to stay in frequent and open communication with our community. Please stay tuned as more developments are made available.


UPDATE: March 12, 3:45 PM

We are aware of the recent developments regarding mass gatherings in Alberta and will respond to this asap. Please stay tuned!


UPDATE: March 11, 2020

COVID-19 Statement of Continued Commitment

Dear Otafest Community,

Understandably, the spread of the coronavirus has raised concerns about our upcoming festival. At this time, Otafest, which is over two months away, is scheduled to proceed as planned. However,  it is possible that future circumstances could require a change in that plan. Our leadership team has completed and is continually reviewing a full risk assessment in accordance with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s mass gatherings risk assessment, and are in frequent communication with our event partners who are also actively monitoring the situation.  The most current information from the Government of Canada, Alberta Health Services and local and national public health authorities are being frequently monitored and heeded. 

The health and safety of our community is my top priority. I plan to actively and consistently communicate with you over the next months. I understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation while also recognizing the importance of our community. I am considerate of the many artists, small businesses and service workers that rely on our event going ahead for their livelihood. If anything changes regarding our plans to move forward, it will be thoughtfully made and communicated to you in a timely fashion. You have my commitment.

In short, the threat of COVID-19 to the Calgary community remains low and contained. Otafest is currently planned to move ahead as scheduled. You will see some show-flow and operational changes to the way we encourage and manage hygiene and cleanliness at the event. While a lot can change in over 2 months, my commitment to ensuring Otafest is not unnecessarily negatively impacted is steadfast. As a non-profit, community event, our team understands the importance of diligence and thoughtful decision making at this time.

Thank you all for supporting Otafest for the past 21 years – and onward! If you have any concerns or questions, I am always available. 

Warmly,
Stephanie Mok
Chair & President