An update on our progress: May 12th 2024

To those who have been staying with us and keeping up with our message as events have been developing, you have our deepest thanks and gratitude. For those who are new to our movement, welcome! It's only been a few months since we left Fanime and raised our voices, and the overwhelming support from all of you has made a significant impact. FanimeCon has made some initial improvements, keeping with their March 11th 2024 statement and announcing a new Code of Conduct on their website on April 24th 2024. This is not enough. FanimeCon is happening at the end of May, in less than a month. There is more to be done, and we will continue to be a force to make these issues known.

Our most major concern is the safety and welfare of all attendees and staff, particularly surrounding Fanime’s inept handling of recorded instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault. An updated Code of Conduct for both attendees and staff has been put into place on April 24th 2024, however that barely scratches the surface to cover our safety concerns overall. It does not include any updated processes to ensure any consequences for instigators nor assurances of trust for victims.

Furthermore, we also fear the continuation of the convention as a whole due to their current delinquent status as a nonprofit. FanimeCon’s parent organization (The Foundation for Anime and Niche Subcultures, or FANS for short) has state rejected tax forms filed and has failed to conduct required audits necessary to maintain its status as a charitable nonprofit. Without resolution, Fanime cannot accept any money for charitable purposes, including raising money for other causes. For the lasting health of the convention as an organization, we strongly implore FANS to resolve their delinquent tax status, at minimum, before the June 25th 2024 deadline posed by the state of California.

Thank you for your continued support and investment in our cause. We urge you to sign our supporter form here, share your story using #Fanime and #FailedByFanime on social media, and to professionally reach out to the Chair Team and Board of Directors to call for change. Our aim is to foster an environment of support and community with all those who share our love and passions for FanimeCon as much as we do. We started this movement with our primary focus on revising and modernizing staff benefits to attract and care for talented volunteers and creating transparent and open communication channels for better staff feedback. While our main focus has shifted slightly, our dedication and core purpose remains the same - we want a better Fanime for many future generations to come. Let's continue to keep the conversation, our minds, and our hearts open.💖❤️‍🔥

______________


To our dearest Friends and Fans of Fanime

As members of a vibrant community that has thrived on passion and creativity, we are writing to inform you all of a significant development within Fanime. Starting February 2nd, 2024, several departments within FanimeCon (over 120 staff members) made the difficult decision to resign from their positions. This letter aims to shed light on the circumstances that lead up to this decision and our hopes for the future of Fanime.

Our commitment to Fanime has always been driven by our love and admiration for this community and the experiences we create together. However, in recent years, we have encountered significant challenges, primarily due to insufficient coordination and lack of support from the Chair Team and Board of Directors. Despite repeated efforts to address these issues internally through dialogue and proposals for improvement, we have consistently faced resistance and dismissiveness. This lack of constructive engagement has hindered our ability to effectively contribute to Fanime's mission and values. We have banded together to shed light on the current practices of Fanime for the benefit of all.

Our Primary Concerns

Attendee Safety

Attendee safety and comfort is at the forefront of our minds when considering the concerns we have for Fanime 2024.

General mismanagement and lack of organized cohesion lead to unacceptable logistical and safety concerns during con. This leads to situations where poor support and resources are provided to enforce safety practices such as maintaining clear walkways and fire exits, posing hazardous emergency situations and risking fire marshall fines and potentially a shut down of the entire convention. This is further exemplified by the overburdening of staff members to enforce inconsistent policies, such as proper COVID-19 masking procedures, undermining efforts to ensure the health and safety of attendees and staff alike. Staff are given little to no training or backing to effectively accomplish this.

There is a lack of consistent support in providing security, forcing individual departments to be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of their own staff and resources during con. Due to Fanime’s current fractured and inconsistent reporting systems, there have been reported incidents that were mismanaged and neglected. When an incident is filed, it is placed in a folder and subsequently forgotten, regardless of the severity - this includes cases of minor falls, harassment, physical assault, and sexual assault. This is most often the case when the offender is a registered staff member. The newly implemented Code of Conduct, while appreciated, does not include any updated processes to assure that these will no longer be the case.

Fanime's failure to address reports of harassment undermines efforts to ensure a safe environment for all. Recent news and public information addressing Fanime’s inadequate and disturbing treatment of a negatively affected party has, to our knowledge, continued to be unresolved. Despite repeated conversations with the Chair Team and attempts to contact the Board of Directors, there are multiple staffers still on the roster who have been repeatedly reported for harassment and stalking at Fanime. Some of these individuals have documented criminal records and have faced bans from numerous other conventions due to comparable behavioral patterns. There has been no action taken against most offenders of whom we are aware. This refusal to remove staff with a history of problematic behavior undermines ensuring a safe and respectful environment for all.

Nonprofit Status

Recent revelations surrounding the Foundation for Anime and Niche Subcultures (FANS), the nonprofit corporation behind FanimeCon, have raised serious concerns about the convention's future under their leadership.

The California Nonprofit Integrity Act (CNIA), enacted in 2004, mandates transparency and accountability within the state's nonprofit sector. One of its key provisions requires eligible nonprofits to undergo independent financial audits to ensure fiscal responsibility and legal compliance. Unfortunately, FANS has fallen short in this regard. Since 2018, FANS has had three rejected tax returns with the State of California, and despite earning over two million dollars in revenue has failed to conduct required audits in accordance with CNIA. This pattern of non-compliance demonstrates a critical lack of financial transparency at state-mandated levels, potentially impacting FanimeCon's stability.

The implications of FANS' non-compliance with the CNIA extend beyond regulatory concerns. FanimeCon's finances are directly impacted by this, which could lead to severe changes in programming options or opportunities such as changes in guest appearances, ticket pricing, and the overall convention experience.

Furthermore, if FANS' tax-exempt status is revoked by the California Franchise Tax Board due to their continued disregard for tax regulations, the corporation will likely incur minimum tax penalties for each year of non-compliance. These penalties are imposed on nonprofit organizations that fail to comply with tax requirements. Such additional financial burdens could further strain FANS' resources and impact their ability to fulfill their mission and activities effectively.

As staff and attendees, it's essential to stay informed about these developments and engage in constructive dialogue with FANS leadership to ensure the long-term success and sustainability of FanimeCon. By promoting transparency and accountability, we can preserve FanimeCon's legacy as a cherished cultural institution in the future.

Our grievances

The following is an additional list of select grievances we’ve attempted to have addressed over the years as staff, in no particular order:

Communication

  • Lack of consistent communication regarding refund or reimbursement policies and procedures has led to a substantial number of attendees and staff being denied badge refunds.
    • In 2020, when Fanime was unable to happen due to the lockdown, attendees were advised to reach out via email to Fanime in order to arrange either a badge roll over or a full refund. Many of these emails were left unanswered, leading to a wave of online posts expressing concerns about the lack of communication and resolution for attendees.
  • Insufficient transparency in communications with general staff as opposed to other conventions of similar size and caliber, such as maintaining regular newsletters as a means to effectively communicate updates, advancements, and milestones to their staff in a consistent manner.
    • Currently, there is an unreliable and untimely system of relaying information that affects all staff, thus placing the responsibility on division and department heads to pass on the details, telephone style.
    • There is no consistent protocol for disseminating information discussed at general staff meetings, such as keeping and distributing official meeting notes.
    • There are no board meetings with the Board of Directors for staff, nor are there meeting notes that are available.
  • Absence of transparent decision-making processes, such as lacking channels for feedback from staff at all levels on important policies.
    • Staff were never consulted in the process of creating policies such as COVID-19 measures, major departmental changes, or department re-locations.
    • There is limited to no opportunity for staff input and feedback on convention policies and decisions.
  • Lack of a transparent method for easily identifying the current members of the Chair Team and Board of Directors that is accessible to the general public.
    • The official Fanime website’s contact page excludes contact information for efficient communication with the leadership teams, offering only a general "help" email address that frequently remains unanswered. (See: Fanime Contact Us Page)
  • Delay in updating policies critical for staff and guests, particularly those whose attendance would be impacted. The slow update and implementation of critical policies impact the attendance and safety of participants.
    • In 2022, COVID-19 policies were announced in January. After months of asking questions for clarifications, there was a major update in late March, two months prior to the convention. When inquiries were made regarding individuals unable to receive vaccines for medical reasons, such as being an infant, no update was given and attendees and staff were turned away at the door.
    • For 2024, COVID-19 policies were announced in early January, a few weeks before hotel registration was opened and notably after badge prices were increased. These policies were published with no input from the general staff.
    • Delayed policy announcements led to lost partnerships with invited guests and vendors.
    • While our group wholeheartedly advocates for upholding elevated standards of public safety protocols, we've never been approached for our input regarding policies that impact the well-being of both staff and attendees.
  • Insufficient communication and crediting regarding service delays requiring additional involvement.
    • In 2023, photos from the Cosplay Gatherings Department remained unpublished and unavailable to the public for five months, despite the department having completed all necessary edits by the end of the convention. The department received no support or response to provide to attendees seeking clarification on the matter. There was also a failure to acknowledge the contributions of these photographers for their work.
    • Since 2019, there hasn't been any sharing of Videos on Demand (VODs) for Gaming events, even though the department consistently provided copies of the stream recordings shortly after the conclusion of each convention.

Operations

  • Inconsistent management and allocation of resources, often resulting in sudden and frequent changes to department responsibilities.
    • When prompted for oversight over vital interdepartmental collaborations, leadership was unresponsive.
  • Departments are forced to operate with significantly fewer resources (space, locations, availability, budget, time) than needed.
    • Arcade’s funding was reduced while being asked to bring in more game cabinets.
    • PC gaming is expected to be financially sponsored by external vendors while also being denied support in securing said sponsors.
    • Cosplay Gatherings has been repeatedly forced to change their gathering layout and locations with minimal notice and without attempts to reach a compromise.
    • Tabletop Gaming receives insufficient support in connecting with external partners who supply the majority of the event's resources.
    • Indie Gaming is given no support in securing hardware for their exhibitors and instead are expected to ask exhibitors to provide their own without assistance in transportation or procurement.
    • Decisions crucial to the operations of both Cosplay Gatherings and Indie Gaming were delayed by leadership, significantly hindering their ability to carry out their operations effectively.
  • No consistent or standardized process for securing contracts with invited guests, vendors, or sponsors. The Chair Team and Board of Directors have lost potential partnerships due to inconsistent responsiveness. This has also impacted sponsorship opportunities.
    • Leadership failed in acquiring a Nintendo Community Tournament License in a timely manner for major tournament events.
    • Fanime nearly lost the partnership deal with BART in 2023 due to delayed communications from leadership.
    • Indie Games was unable to present exhibitors due to bottlenecks in the process of onboarding, processing, and contracts.

Staff Welfare

  • Discussions regarding better support for staffers to adhere to the 6-2-1 rule (6 hours of sleep, two meals, and one shower a day) during the convention have frequently been overlooked and dismissed.
    • Housing not being guaranteed forces many staffers to travel farther, increasing their commute time and fatigue levels.
    • The absence of staff meals provided makes it harder for staffers to eat properly, impacting their energy levels and overall health.
    • The high number of required hours further exacerbates the challenge for staffers to prioritize their well-being amidst their duties.
  • Fanime's approach to staffing benefits and incentives diverges from common industry practices compared to other conventions of similar or smaller size.
    • Other conventions typically offer free housing, meals, and staff shirts to their staffers.
Comparison table of benefits between Fanime and comparable shows

If you are an authorized representative of these shows and the information is not correct, please contact us at [email protected]

What we hope for

The impact of these and other unresolved issues extends beyond operational inefficiencies; they have also affected our community's spirit and the quality of experiences we are able to offer to the people surrounding the con. Over 120 staff members from Fanime have left in solidarity to make our voices heard. This is not a decision we have taken lightly. It comes after years of dedication and attempts to foster positive change from within. While we are receptive to exploring potential paths forward for the benefit of the fans who wish to staff in the future, we hold on to hope that the community as a whole will continue conversations contributing to Fanime's enduring success after our departure.

The changes we want to see are detailed further below, focusing on public and organizational changes we believe are necessary to ensure the continuation and safety of con. We advocate these enhancements not just for the benefit of staff welfare, but to improve the conditions for future staff and fans alike. We remain hopeful that Fanime can address these challenges and emerge stronger. Our departure is a call to action — a plea for meaningful dialogue and reform that can reinvigorate Fanime's foundational principles of community, passion, and connection via our ever guiding motto that we’ve carried in our hearts for the last 30 years — “By Fans, For Fans”.

______________

The following is a select list of changes that we recommend to ensure a thriving future for Fanime. As FanimeCon is run through a parent nonprofit organization, these requests must also be enabled and enacted through changes to the NPO, and should be understood as being in addition to what is already in place.

Before 2024 Con

Publicly
  • Immediate termination and banning of staff/volunteers/attendees with a documented history of violations of the code of conduct:
    • “Harassment of any kind is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Any form of harassment shall be grounds for removal from FanimeCon and Convention Center spaces*, and may result in the revocation of your badge without any refund…” - current Code of Conduct
  • Add a section in the CoC concerning what to do when harassed by a staff member or policies on how to report staff to other staff.
    • A vetted third party HR Reporting or Auditing team or group would be highly recommended
  • Acknowledgement that current staff benefits are inadequate.
  • Acknowledgement that leadership’s current method of communication is severely lacking.
  • Acknowledgement that leadership’s decision-making has gravely impacted staffers from being able to fulfill their duties.
Organizational
  • Enhance the accessibility of public meetings such as having a dedicated person to monitor Zoom quality and using more audible equipment.
  • Establish a system to distribute comprehensive meeting notes to all staff, ensuring that those unable to attend remain informed about the discussions held and decisions made during the meeting.
    • Archive an easily accessible library of said notes.
  • Provide better support and amenities to staff - at bare minimum, either proportionally equitable or free staff feed and a branded staff shirt for promotion and visibility at con.
    • Increase staff housing discount to 30~40%.

Before 2025 Con

Publicly
  • Resolve the non-profit delinquency status.
  • Ensure that all convention policy decisions impacting attendees and staff are announced no later than four months before the convention, before hotel blocks are announced.
    • This includes explanations of new or established procedures and requirements, barring any changes in federal, state, local, or convention center policies.
  • Create an open and anonymous channel for staff and attendees to submit feedback, accompanied by a transparent process for reviewing and addressing the feedback.
  • Implement a system for transparent discussions regarding executive decisions at least twice a year, welcoming anyone interested in the information, including the public.
  • Permit staff membership of the nonprofit to enact change for the management of the convention.
  • Enable leadership changes through democratic voting by general staff in both the Chair Team and the Board of Directors.
  • Codify all above recommended new changes into the nonprofit bylaws.
Organizational
  • Create a more transparent budgeting process and allocation spreadsheet outlined to heads of staff and relevant members of the nonprofit board.
    • Provide relevant departments with the maximum budget within consistent timescales in order to maximize effectiveness of funds.
    • Ensure ease of recording and reporting for independent audits necessary to remain in good standing as a nonprofit.
    • Every department’s budget allotment should be accessible and known by all department heads and above.
  • Improve benefits for staff: bare minimum is free housing, shirt, and staff feed.
  • Move all staff housing to be located within a reasonable distance from the staffer's primary duty location: Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and DoubleTree for Silver Island staff.
    • Ensure there is a large enough staff housing block to accommodate all staffers who need housing.
  • Create a staff guideline outlining behaviors and expectations.
  • Upon acceptance into staff, a copy of the Code of Conduct and staff expectations must be given via email, and reviewed once more before badge pick-up with the option to receive a hard-copy.
  • Create a new department focused on Accessibility.
  • Establish a dedicated Staff Relations Division to oversee staff welfare.
    • The Division must develop a transparent incident handling process featuring open communication every 2-5 business days with clear timelines.
    • Establish a new department dedicated to Incident Handling, focusing on recording, investigating, and communicating with relevant parties.
    • Designate a new department responsible for managing the distribution of staff benefits.
    • Staff Relations Division staff need to remain unbiased so should not be cross staffing with other departments.
    • Create a mandatory, all-staff wide training that goes over the code of conduct, how to report issues anonymously, and what to do in common emergency situations.
  • In addition to creating a dedicated internal division for staff relations, provide contact for a third party incident management group such as FLARE or the Dorsai Irregulars for escalating incidents or for onsite management.

Fanime status updates

Since the inception of our movement, Fanime has taken some actions aligned with our goals. There is a lot more work to be done, but we remain hopeful that Fanime will continue positive growth. Unfortunately, many of our concerns remain unresolved.

  • On April 26th 2024, 44 days after their Board of Director’s Statement on Resignation and Harassment Claims, they posted a refurbished Code of Conduct. The newly added sections on Harassment, Reporting, and Violations are clear indicators that they have been listening to our message and are moving to amend issues involving the convention. We believe there is more to be done.

How you, the fans, can help!

Whether you're a dedicated staffer, enthusiastic attendee, valued vendor, or steadfast supporter, we cherish every voice. Join us by adding your name to the list of signees, and in spreading awareness by using #Fanime and #FailedByFanime across social media platforms to share your own unique experiences. Below, you'll find a form to sign in support of this statement. Additionally, if you wish to show your support for our shared goals, we invite you to reach out to the Chair Team and the Board of Directors via [email protected] and [email protected]. These email addresses are provided for constructive communication, not harassment, and we ask for those who reach out to remain professional and encouraging. If you wish to contact us, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].


In closing...

Our hope is for community-wide conversations which will lead to growth and healing, to support this convention that we all love so much. We believe that with community support, the Chair Team and Board of Directors can be convinced to take our concerns to heart, working towards resolutions and being the leadership that Fanime needs for it to continue to be a place of joy and connection for years to come.



With love and deepest of hope,

Ai Yolanda Nakamura Escobar | Cosplay Gatherings Department Head
Tye Anthony Lokka | Cosplay Gatherings Department Head
Felicito "Chito" S. | Games Manager & Assistant Programming Division Head
Kit Moonwood | Broadcast Head & Gaming Stage Assistant Head
Maggie Chew | Cosplay Gatherings Department Assistant Head
Thao Minh Nguyen | Cosplay Gatherings Department Assistant Head
Leland Lam | Cosplay Gatherings Department Photographer
Jonathan G. | TableTop Gaming Department Head
Scott G. | Gaming TechOps Department Head
Richard C. | Assistant Games Manager
Bernice C. | Indie Games Department Head
Giancarlo G. B. | Broadcast Manager
Warren “Sceptile” L. | eGaming Assistant Head & Broadcast Assistant Head
Panda B. | eGaming Lead
Sarah F. | Tabletop Assistant Head
Steven P. | eGaming Department Head
Kiyah H. | eGaming/PC Gaming Lead
Andrew H. | Indie Games Assistant Head
Ryan S. | Indie Games Assistant Head
Vince O. | Arcade Department Head
Justin T. | eGaming Assistant Head & Broadcast Assistant Head
Lily T. | eGaming Assistant Head
Carlos H. G. | Cosplay Gatherings Department Assistant Head
Jimmy M. | Gaming TechOps Department Head
Mark W. | Indie Games Head
Cassandra C. | TableTop Gaming Department Assistant Head


If you are seeing this message, then you have Javascript disabled. #FailedByFanime uses javascript to integrate with a public signature form. If you wish to sign onto this letter, please enable Javascript.

Social media shareable

Edit log

  • 12 May 2024
    • Major revision to content of website. To see our previous website, please visit this Internet Archive link.
  • 4 April 2024
    • Updated comic to remove typo in email address listed.
  • 15 March 2024
    • Updated the introductory section format to be listed points to enhance clarity
  • 5 March 2024
    • Added Guest of Honor as form submission option
      • We realized this option wasn't offered for any Guests of Honor who wished to sign
    • Updated edit log formatting
  • 4 March 2024
    • Addition of this Edit log to show we are willing to be sure information is accurate
    • Updated comparison chart benefits for Otakon, Anime Central, and Anime Boston and added a note for authorized representatives to reach out if there's any inaccuracies
      • Contacted by representatives of these shows to clarify their benefits
    • Moved public signatures to a separately linked page instead of embedded
      • This was a format request by both supporters and members of FailedByFanime
  • 2 March 2024
    • Modified public signature sheet and form to remove after submission editing and require approval of why people signed and added a message to the form to reflect this
  • 1 March 2024
    • Removed policies entries about a contradiction between Props policy and Dealer Rules
      • Dealers Department reached out to clarify their rules
    • Updated the accuracy of the 2022 COVID policy timing from being announced in March to being announced in January with clarifications not until March after many questions asked
      • The less clear announcement in January within another post was pointed out to us