New England's largest and most diverse science fiction and fantasy convention
January 16-19, 2015

Programming Policy Change

Arisia recently informed previous panel participants of a change in Programming policy, reducing the number of potential participants invited to be a panelist for Arisia 2015. We've received some feedback, most of it positive, some not, and wish to address some of that publicly.

First, some additional background. Instituting a process like this is something that the staff of Arisia has discussed for several years. This is the first year that we have done so. Last year, we had fewer programming slots for panels than in previous years, but interest in being a panelist was greater than ever. We found ourselves in the enviable position of having many more amazing and qualified potential participants than we had panels for them to do. This situation has not changed as the number of talented people interested in participating in Programming at Arisia continues to grow every year. For Arisia 2015, we made the difficult decision to scale back the number of people that we invite to be panelists.

The reasons for this are simple. We want to make sure that we have the best-qualified and most diverse group of panelists we can find. We cannot schedule everybody that would like to participate, as there simply aren’t enough panels to go around. We also need to make sure that the selection process doesn’t overwhelm our staff. For the majority of panels, we easily got three to four times as much interest in a panel as we had slots to fill. This complicates the selection process and puts a great deal of stress on our all-volunteer staff. By reducing the size of the pool, we will also reduce the demand on the staff.

Some past participants expressed concern that our selection process would result in only well-connected people getting invites, or that past personal conflicts would skew our choices. Our staff has spent considerable time going through our database, striving to select the very best candidates that reflect Arisia’s diverse interests, knowledge, skills and backgrounds. Multiple people, with many years of experience, collectively worked together to ensure that our process was as pure of intent as we could make it. We did everything we could to make the process as fair as possible.

We also received several emails expressing concern that people who will not receive an invite will simply be ignored. Our plan is to inform everyone that applied to be a panelist for the upcoming con, including all invitees and participants from Arisia 2014, whether or not they are invited to participate again. This process is almost finished, and decision letters will be going out soon. We ask all previous participants to please be patient while we complete this difficult task.

Finally, we also received some letters asking if those who are not selected as a potential participant can register at the earlier rates. As mentioned, this is the first year we've gone through all of our candidates like this, and it has proven more time intensive then expected. Panelist invite letters have been delayed by several weeks. During this time, the deadline for early registration has passed. In light of that, all potential participants who received an invitation to be a panelist for 2014, and therefore expected but are not receiving one for 2015, will have an opportunity to register for Arisia at the previous registration rate.

We welcome any and all comments, ideas or criticisms to improve this process. Please direct all correspondence to Thank you.

Micah Schneider
Programming Division Head
Arisia 2015