Silicon will not be returning to the Bay Area in 2023 the committee told Facebook readers on May 5. The event had been scheduled for October 14-15 in Santa Clara, CA and promised a guest list heavy with media celebrities.
The convention website, now shuttered except for the cancellation announcement, formerly noted that the event was founded in 2014 as the vision of Rick White and Steve Wozniak “as they sought to bring together the best of technology and pop culture” and in its heyday attracted about 60,000 people each year over its three-day run. Adam Savage joined them in 2019 “to bring a new dimension to the event which embraced the maker ethos and community.”
The SiliCon 2023 website gave this explanation for the decision:
Q:Why was the event canceled?
A: As you are likely aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant disruption to public gatherings and events, and we have seen a slow return to normalcy, we continue to face challenges and uncertainties. The economic impact has been severe, and many individuals and businesses continue to face financial hardships. We hope to resume SiliCon in the future, and we appreciate your understanding and support during these challenging times.
All ticket buyers have been promised a full refund. The convention’s ultimate fate remains unknown:
Q: Will SiliCon return in the future?
A: We are exploring all options and will keep you notified regarding the details of future events.
Maybe conventions are a thing of the past. I have noticed the greying of fandom at SF cons. New people are not being effectively recruited to run the conventions. (I found it impossible to get involved in con running.) I suspect this is not the last convention that we have seen the last of.
There’s more to this, and folks can’t seem to get straight answers.
They removed Adam Savage’s name from all their branding, but it’s not obvious if they cancelled because they lost Adam (who even recently was gung-ho about the con) or the cancellation led to Adam backing out. The COVID thing is clearly a cover, though certainly not insignificant.
SiliCon was formerly known as Silicon Valley Comic Con. I’ve attended two of them. It was basically a regional comic con, so the economics behind its cancellation are probably different than the ones at volunteer-run SF conventions like Westercon. It was held at a convention center, not a hotel, and attracted a younger crowd. For me, it was just a day trip, and I doubt if many attendees stayed overnight at hotels.
As with many comic cons, one of the main attractions was a large roster of celebrities who were available for autograph signings and photo ops. Last year they had George Takei, Christopher Lloyd, Karen Gillan, and Summer Glau, plus cast members from Farscape and The Expanse. Attendance was noticeably down from 2019, when I previously attended, and I doubt if celebrities like that come cheap.
The Bay Area used to host the world’s largest Maker Faire, a showcase for DIY projects. At its peak, it drew 150,000 people or so to the county fairgrounds in San Mateo. Adam Savage was a mainstay of Maker Faire, and it appeared that SiliCon was trying to incorporate some Maker Faire-like programming. They put what was essentially a makerspace on the exhibit floor and had hands-on presentations on how to make costumes, props, etc. It seemed like a good idea and I hope they’re able to make it work in the future.