Anime and Cosplay

Denver Pop Culture Con Lays Off Staff and Cancels for 2021

The 2019 Denver Pop Culture Con was the last fans will see for at least a few years.
The 2019 Denver Pop Culture Con was the last fans will see for at least a few years. Teague Bohlen
The folks at Denver’s Pop Culture Classroom put it plainly to their legions of fans in a surprise press release on Monday, December 7. “Regrettably, Denver Pop Culture Con is canceled for May 2021,” they announced in the very first line, ripping off the Spider-Man Band-Aid quick so it might hurt a little less. “With the ongoing city and state restrictions, the resulting uncertainty around large public gatherings, and the financial impact that the pandemic has had on our organization, we decided it just won’t be possible in 2021 to hold the kind of event our community has come to expect.”

And that's a massive event that requires serious manpower. Each year about 120,000 fans flock downtown for the comic book and pop culture convention. Already, six positions out of eleven in the DPCC organization — all of them having to do with the annual convention in some way — have been eliminated, with no clear plan to re-hire.

“We weren’t given the go-ahead by the Colorado Convention Center to sell tickets to the 2021 event," says Adam Kullberg, interim executive director of Pop Culture Classroom, "and we're being told that it might be well into the spring before they’d have an answer.”

That, and financial losses from canceling the 2020 Denver Pop Culture Con — twice — added up to more of a challenge than strong hopes for the event’s 2021 return could surmount. The difficult decision to cancel for 2021 was made just before the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Kullberg, and with the best interests of the fans, retailers, artists and writers in mind.

“First and foremost, we wanted to make sure we were making the most ethical decision we were able,” Kullberg explains. “We held on for as long as we could, but didn’t want our supporters to go into Colorado Gives Day thinking that their donations might go to ensure that DPCC 2021 would take place.”

As for what’s ahead for Denver Pop Culture Con in 2022, that’s still “very much up in the air," Kullberg says.  “We’re waiting for more information on hiring, on when and how the convention might return. Right now, we’re crafting our approach to next year and the ongoing in terms of our financial health, the safety of our fans, and the best way to manage everything through this pandemic.”

What can fans do to help?

“At this point,” Kullberg says, “we’re asking for donations to keep our education and literacy outreach going.”

The PopRun2020 virtual 5K is continuing through December 14, and nerds and those who love them can still donate to the organization — on Colorado Gives Day, which is December 8, or any other — through the Pop Culture Classroom website.

“Pop Culture Classroom has a tough road ahead,” Kullberg admits, but adds that he's “confident that we can succeed with the support of our community.”

For more information or to donate, go to the Pop Culture Classroom website.
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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen