It is with deep regret, that after a lot of discussions, we have decided to cancel this year’s event due to the coronavirus.
At the time of writing this, we are exactly four months away from main weekend, and we know a lot can happen in that time. We hope, for everyone’s sake, that the outbreak is taken under control very soon, and that by July, it is just a memory along with the bad winter weather, but we can’t take that risk.
We could hold off and make this decision in April or May, but our first priority is to our attendees. We don’t want people booking holiday from work, paying for hotels and travel, and then, at the last minute, having to cancel them and fight to get refunds.
We also have to think about our sponsors and spending commitments. We bring in quite a bit of cash from our sponsors, but most of it goes straight back out again on hosting costs. Making this decision now will limit those costs and not end up with us taking sponsor money, spending it, and then having to find ways to pay it back or to take a hit on next year’s event.
We have looked at other alternatives, the main one being a virtual event. A few people have said that they would be OK with that, but it wouldn’t be SteelCon. People come to Sheffield for the atmosphere, for meeting old and new friends, and for downing shots of odd things they will probably regret in the morning. We have had quite a few submissions of both talks and workshops and we will be contacting everyone who has submitted to see if we can help them get their work out there in some other way, possibly with another conference that is doing some form of virtual event.
For those of you who managed to grab a ticket in the test run, you’ll all get contacted as well to give you your options.
So lets hope that with hindsight, this is the wrong decision, and that by July everything is back to normal and that the con would have run as it has for the last six years. But with the foresight we have now, we can’t take that risk.
Pinching a line from @javvad, stay safe our friends, and look forward to 2021, where we will be back twice as strong to make up for it all.