Otakon is back in person, and more anime conventions are following suit. After more than a year behind our computer screens, we can see each other again. That’s great in some respects… but we should be careful not to lose the advances we’ve made during lockdown.
While nothing compares to the IRL experience, streaming for live events has become invaluable. And it has merits — as we’ve discussed here before. Sadly, haste to return to normal can cause us to steamroll past positive discoveries we’ve made. We all want to see each other again. But there are several reasons why we should try and integrate the streaming model into conventions going forward.
Alternate Cash Flow
Let’s start with what people will listen to: following the money. Because money is what keeps anime conventions (and any cons) afloat. Even if you’re just a small, fan-run event, you need capital. Streaming specific events at cons gives you an opportunity to tap markets you might not be able to otherwise.
During lockdown, fans have been able to “attend” conventions in London, California, New York, and Paris, all without paying for a plane ticket. While this wouldn’t be feasible for every single event, some with broader appeal (and limited seating) might bring in a few extra dollars from interested viewers abroad.
Anime conventions are full of amazing panels. Everyone from enthusiastic fans to actors to scholars can weigh in. And with the magic of the Internet, select of these could be archived for viewing or reference at a later date.
This, if you wanted to attempt it, would require a contract with the panelist(s) in question. Someone having their panel archived is a move that should come with a legal agreement, so it’s clear what the footage can and can’t be used for. But as more and more people are writing books and researching the history of anime and its fandom, these could be valuable and enlightening resources.
As we’re all stuck at home for health reasons, we’ve all learned (at least a little) what it’s like to have accessibility concerns. Anime conventions, companies, businesses, restaurants, and more found ways to keep going. But just because the majority of the world doesn’t require these accessibility options anymore doesn’t mean no one does.
There have been, and still are, many people for whom attending conventions was an impossibility because of their health. We’ve all learned what that’s like. We’ve all learned that something can be done. There are some people whose health concerns won’t vanish with the end of lockdown. As with working from home and food delivery, accessibility to the outside world when health makes travel impossible was a welcome change. Even if it’s not feasible for every single panel, cons should at least consider the good they could do by continuing to keep streaming options open.
What do you think?