We’ve made the decision to cancel Digital Art Conference Antwerp due to the current global health crisis. Judging by the current situation in Europe, things look to get worse before they get better and we have to consider the health & safety of visitors, speakers, volunteers and staff first.
First things first, what about refunds? We’ll be partially refunding any tickets that have been sold over the coming weeks. We unfortunately can’t refund everyone the full amount as we have many non-refundable costs ourselves such as travel and accommodation for our speakers which have be already been paid in anticipation of the event. As a ticket holder, you’ll receive an email from us to start the process of getting your partial refund.
After consulting with government officials and medical professionals, as well as keeping a close eye on the developing situation regarding COVID-19, we were faced with a hard decision with three potential options, which we want to be transparent about.
Continuing the event as planned would have been our preferred way of moving forward, however since the start of the outbreak in Europe we’ve seen many other significant developments that lead us to believe this is no longer a safe or viable option. As with other events, the bulk of ticket sales generally happens in the months leading up to the event and with concerns about travel restrictions and health and safety we’re not only met with a reduction in sales, but also concerns from our speakers and visitors.
We feel personally responsible for the health and safety of everyone involved in the event, from visitors and speakers to staff and volunteers. Adding to that, any agreement we might enter in to with third parties currently carries no guarantee that we’re able to achieve an acceptable amount of visitors, which wouldn’t be productive for either party. This is why, in our opinion, continuing is not the way to move forward.
So why not just postpone the event to a later date? This is down to our cost calculations. The hotel and accommodation costs of our international speakers can’t be recovered and this means we would have to start the whole process of booking flights, trains and hotels all over again, effectively doubling a large part of the costs of organizing the event. On top of that, we also can’t predict what the situation will be in the coming months regarding infection and public safety.
As this is our first event, we don’t have the financial capacity to absorb this cost, meaning we would have to start from scratch with a financial deficit, which would make organizing the event prone to a higher risk of failure, leading to a similar conversation all over again in a few months, with potentially more dire consequences and no refunds at all for a larger group of people.
Right now, we’re at a point where cancellation means that we’re at least able to provide some recompense to ticket holders, rather than none at all, which would not be the case closer to the planned date. This is why we’re making the decision now, as to not leave our supporters completely empty-handed. In an ideal world we would have liked to refund everyone fully, but as it stands we’re already incurring a significant financial loss to achieve the current situation.
If you’re still with us, thanks for taking the time to let us explain the situation. Please know we didn’t make this decision lightly and have done our best to consider all the options. We were excited to host everyone for a great event, but this situation is a textbook example of things you simply can’t plan for.
We don’t know what the future holds just yet, but for now we don’t have anything planned. If we end up organizing something in the future, we’ll let you know.
Outside of all this, we do want to take a moment to thank all of our partners who were helping us make this a great event. And finally, we want to thank the speakers and the community for their overwhelming support. It was amazing to feel the love from everyone that spontaneously offered to help where they could and hearing from all you that were excited about joining.
Midge, Johan, Mats & Robin