One of the true "hidden gems" of the NYCC programming schedule, the NYCC Team Q&A not only serves as the unofficial end of NYCC 2016 but also as the unofficial start of NYCC 2017 planning. ReedPOP head Lance Fensterman, along with team members James McNerney, Fallon Prinzivalli, Kristina Rogers and Mike Armstrong, spent the hour offering their own observations on what worked and what needed to be worked on for next year; and fielding questions/comments from convention attendees. Here are some of the highlights:
* Fensterman announced that the total attendance at NYCC 2016 over the course of the four days and across four venues was approx 180,000 (actual numbers expected to top-out at around 185,000), which continues the convention's "considerable growth."
* For the approximately 400 tables available in Artist Alley, ReedPOP receives over 1600 requests.
* ReedPOP is not concerned about a new anime convention in New York City (Anime NYC 2017) taking away from the anime presence at NYCC, with Fensterman confident in the relationships ReedPOP has with Crunchyroll, Funimation and other anime-based companies.
* Fensterman stated that ReedPOP was unaware that they could run gender-neutral bathrooms at the Javits Center, and will strongly consider going with that for NYCC 2017.
* Crowd and line control on Friday was "not good" and partly due to changes in procedure that took place Thursday night but couldn't be communicated out to staff in time for Friday morning. ReedPOP staff stayed onsite until 10:30pm Friday night to establish a more effective plan for Saturday and to insure that the new plan was properly communicated to everyone involved.
* Javits Center staff, security and NYCC staff members need to do a better job of clearing sitters from stairways and ramps for both safety reasons and disability access.
* Crowding in the Exhibit Hall aisles this year was in large part due to many more individual exhibitors having signings, giveaways or other types of activities that either required lines or involved large crowd gatherings.
* Anime fans would like to see a better representation of anime artists in Artists Alley next year.
* The Walking Dead panel was moved to Madison Square Garden (MSG) because of its 5600 seat capacity, more than doubling fan access from previous years; and still had seats available up to an hour before the panel began. In the future, adding MSG to the badge tapping process would be a great way to clean-up the reservation process.
* Most agreed that the WiFi was vastly improved this year, but it almost didn't happen: Javits Center stepped-up with only three days before NYCC to sponsor the event's internet connection.
* Overall, the feeling is that Fan Verification worked but needs to constantly evolve. ReedPOP will be meeting with ShowClix in a week to begin laying-out the ticketing process for NYCCC 2017. One attendee suggested beginning ticket sales after regular business hours, and that fan verification is offered at the time of purchase. Others suggested different ticketing structures, including offering two-day tickets and VIP passes; and putting each type of ticket for sale on a different day.
* With regards to the Peter David incident reported by Bleeding Cool, an attendee stated that an incident of harassment was reported to ReedPOP but they never received a reply. Referring first to David's comments during that panel, Fensterman stated that David's words and beliefs were his own and not that of ReedPOP. With regards to the lack of response, both Fensterman and Rogers apologized with Rogers explaining that it was due to miscommunication among the staff but that the issue was being addressed. Fensterman also apologized to the attendee for having had that experience at their event, and that no one should ever leave an event like NYCC having to deal with a "fallen hero."
* An attendee who is also a representative from We Need Diverse Books asked that there be a more concerted effort to not schedule diversity panels at conflicting times; and that BookCon needs to reach out for more diversity amongst the panels offered.
Even after the panel ended, ReedPOP staff stayed outside in the main hallway to continue speaking with attendees on the issues that didn't make into the hour time limit. Only time will tell how much of what was discussed will actually see the light of day…but we'll see. I mean, NYCC 2017 is only 350+ days away anyway…right?
Ray Flook has been a contributing writer for Bleeding Cool since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter at @oldmangeek88; on Instagram at @oldmangeek; and soon through the Big Bad Geek podcast.
Ale Bodden is a freelance artist and contributing writer for Bleeding Cool and Old Man Geek. Find her on Twitter: @nerdy_faery; and on Instagram: @nerdyfaery.