Today, November 14th, The Experimenter Publishing Company reluctantly announces that it has formally rescinded its NASFiC Fan GoH sponsorship of John and Bjo Trimble, following the Trimble’s decision to remain Guests of Honor of the Arisia 2019 convention.
In December of 2017 at the Boston SMOFcon, Steve Davidson (Experimenter Publisher) met Kate Hatcher, chair of the 2019 Utah NASFiC bid. Utah won the bid and The Experimenter Publishing Company was approached as a potential sponsor for the as yet unnamed Fan GoH. Following brief discussions, Experimenter agreed to cover the costs associated with the attendance and promotional efforts typically incurred.
Owing to family illness, the Trimbles were unable to attend WorldCon76 where Amazing Stories was making its debut and the Trimble’s selection and acceptance of the NASFiC Fan GoH position was to be announced. It was anticipated that the Trimble’s high fannish profile would contribute to Amazing Stories’ promotional efforts.
In October, Crystal Huff, a former chair of Arisia (Boston regional convention) made her announcement explaining why she was no longer attending Arisia. Her statement and follow on detail, including attendance withdrawalsm, can be found on Jim C. Hines’ page here. Ms. Huff’s announcement was followed by similar statements from other attendees.
As a former attendee and panelist at Arisia, I had previously decided that Arisia was not a convention I needed to attend. The details are unimportant and not related, but they did inform my reaction to Ms. Huff’s statement. I had no trouble believing her or the others who stated that not only had Arisia failed to handle their complaints properly, but that the board seemed to be moving in directions that further insulated them. The phrase “toxic environment” has been applied.
Further, it is my opinion that the convention needs a complete overhaul before it can hope to continue and present itself as providing a safe and welcoming environment for all.
Following Ms. Huff’s announcement, numerous individuals, both current guests and potential future guests, announced that they would not be attending Arisia; they too believed Crystal; they too felt that Arisia needed take a step back and address its issues before continuing.
The Trimbles initially announced that they would be attending Arisia. When I learned of this, I wrote to Kate Hatcher of the Utah NASFiC and subsequently to Bjo Trimble, explaining that The Experimenter Publishing Company and Amazing Stories could not be associated with nor support Arisia under the current circumstances and, since one purpose of their trip to the convention was to promote the NASFiC as sponsored by Amazing Stories, I felt that I had no choice but to withdraw their sponsorship should they choose to attend.
(Commerical aside: I briefly considered simply asking them not to mention their sponsorship while at Arisia as a way to split hairs, but quickly disabused myself of that notion: the point of a sponsorship is to both support good fannish things and to get some promotional value in return.)
The Trimbles did not respond to me, but they did make an announcement on Facebook that they were holding their acceptance in abeyance until after their daughter had attended the 11/11 Arisia meeting and reported back.
Following that meeting, the Trimbles informed me that they were moving ahead with their attendance at Arisia.
I consider their decision to be unfortunate and probably uninformed. Attendance at one hastily called meeting by a proxy can not possibly have provided their daughter with the full picture. Arisia’s recent actions seem to be more about papering over their issues than addressing them. Paraphrasing a comment on Twitter: Placing concern for the existence of the con over concern for people’s safety is the reason Arisia is in trouble in the first place.
The Experimenter Publishing Company and Amazing Stories are, therefore, withdrawing their sponsorship of the NASFiC GoHs, the Trimbles, and ask that they not associate themselves with the same during their attendance at Arisia.
Further, Kate Hatcher has been informed that funds spent so far may be retained by the Utah convention (we are not looking for a refund) and that unspent funds will remain in place until such time as a replacement sponsor/alternative funds can be obtained.
Our actions today are not personally directed at the Trimbles, nor at the NASFiC. Our withdrawal of sponsorship is being arranged in a manner we hope will cause the least collateral damage, while at the same time focusing where it ought to, on Arisia.
I’ve long held respect for the Trimbles and the fannish work they’ve done in the past. I considered it an honor to be able to support their appearance as Fan GoHs at the 2019 NASFiC. I do not support their decision to attend Arisia.