An SFAL Announcement from John, Cathy & Arnie

We have been receiving a number of messages and emails inquiring about the 2018 dates for Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. While we have worked diligently since the close of the 2017 show last April to come up with something workable this year, we, unfortunately, were unsuccessful. Kansas City is an increasingly difficult venue to book viable show dates in and we’ve felt lucky to have been able to squeeze in when we could (realizing, of course, that any dates we used put SFAL in conflict with other conventions artists like to attend). With a new downtown convention hotel in the works and a new airport approved by voters, dates in Kansas City will continue to get harder to come by in the future rather than easier as more—and bigger—shows cast their hats into the ring.

With that said: there is no SFAL planned for 2018.

However, there IS a Spectrum 25 Awards ceremony in the planning stages for May 2018: we are working with Baby Tattoo’s esteemed showman Bob Self on something pretty wonderful. We’ll be making an announcement once details are finalized.

But what about SFAL? Well, we’re working on that, too.

This hiatus is allowing us to rethink the model for an artist sales event. While we’re extremely grateful to the 2000+ supporters who turned out for SFAL in Kansas City, we recognize that we are unable to break through that attendance ceiling and achieve the goals we have for the show. We always believed that the fans, collectors, and cosplayers who show up routinely for the local Planet Comicon or the anime-focused Naka-Kon or the horror-themed Crypticon or the SF-themed ConQuesT (who we successfully joined when they were downtown in 2015) would enjoy SFAL, too, but there turned out to be very little attendance crossover, regardless of the amount of outreach and advertising we did (and we did tons). With a retail model, more potential shoppers is not only desirable but necessary for the exhibitors traveling across the country or from overseas. Our 12-to-one attendee-to-exhibitor ratio was decent when you consider other conventions—but it’s simply not good enough. And we know it.

Certainly, the social and networking opportunities of any convention or gathering are extremely important, but so are the finances for all. SFAL was never set up as a profit-generator for us, but it has to pay for itself even as it has to provide a logical return for exhibitors. Spending time together is always an emotional plus, naturally, but artists paying for their own “party" while we pocket their cash isn’t—and will never be—our purpose. Growing the market and giving the Fantastic Art community the public recognition it deserves are what SFAL, like the Spectrum annual, have always been about.

So, we’re exploring some options moving forward. There’s something extremely promising in the works that will provide the increased audience we want for the artists and the community as a whole, but it’s a little too early to go into details. When everything is ready, you’ll read it here first.

Until that time we wanted to express our sincere gratitude to all the exhibitors, all the attendees, all the volunteers, theaters, hotels, and convention services staff in Kansas City who made the previous SFALs unforgettable. Will we be back in KC at some point in the future? Everything is possible. Will there be other gatherings and exhibits and workshops? Count on it. Trust us when we say: the best is yet to come! Thanks for allowing us to be a part of the Fantastic Art community!

—John Fleskes, Cathy Fenner, Arnie Fenner