Photo courtesy of Dawn Shaw
                                Dawn Shaw, BritCon co-founder and chair, Olivia Nelson, BritCon secretary and director of promotions and Abie Ekenezar BritCon co-founder and director of guest relations.

Photo courtesy of Dawn Shaw Dawn Shaw, BritCon co-founder and chair, Olivia Nelson, BritCon secretary and director of promotions and Abie Ekenezar BritCon co-founder and director of guest relations.

New British-themed convention coming to Bellevue

BritCon will be at the Hyatt Regency Aug. 14-16.

A new convention is on its way to Bellevue.

BritCon is a new, nonprofit, mixed media convention, celebrating British media and culture. The convention is run by fans, for fans in the Pacific Northwest.

It’s a chance for anglophiles to immerse themselves in television, movies, books, comics, tea and cakes.

BritCon was founded by Abie Ekenezar, Shannon Reagan and Dawn Shaw, with the help of Mark Dando in London. When another British-themed convention failed, they saw how disappointed people were and decided to do something about it.

“Mark had run a highly successful event in the UK called Britscifi for a number of years, and had been interested in bringing it across the pond,” Shaw said. “Conversations with him about his event helped solidify plans for the creation of BritCon.”

BritCon will be coming to the Hyatt Regency Aug. 14-16. Guests include “Dr. Who” 1996 film actor Yee Jee Tso, “Star Wars” artist, illustrator, writer JAKe, and “Doctor Who”’s eighth doctor Paul McGann.

A convention like BritCon is important, Shaw said.

“BritCon is being organized by fans, for fans,” she said. “We believe that there is support for this type of event. There is a huge community of fans of British television shows such as Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. There is a large community of British ex-patriots, and we are hoping to share some of Britain’s culture at this event.”

While the convention focuses on British media, BritCon is not a Doctor Who event, even though the headlining guest, Paul McGann, is from that series.

“We dab in everything British, including art, literature, culture, media and technology,” Shaw said.

BritCon has been months in the making. Shaw said they are happy to hold it in Bellevue.

“We wanted a location within reasonable distance to the airport and that is accessible via transit. We searched in the Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma area, and what it really came down to was the availability of the Hyatt Regency and the terms they were willing to offer us as a start-up convention,” Shaw said.

Shaw said attendees can look forward to having fun in a safe and inclusive environment and be able to interact with people who share similar interests.

“We aim to bring high-profile guests to the region, yet maintain a level of intimacy that allows fans to interact with people they admire without the hideously long lines,” she said.

At the convention, McGann will be reunited with his “Doctor Who” co-star Yee Jee Tso. “Star Wars” comic artist JAKe will headline Artist Alley. JAKe will be offering workshops on how to draw “Star Wars.” Astrophysicist and YouTube sensation Scott Manley will also be there.

“There are opportunities to meet and talk with all of our guests,” Shaw said. “In addition to meeting our special guests and being able to get photos and autographs with them, we feature a film festival, cosplay contest, the Marketplace and an Artist Alley, as well as a variety of panels on all things British. In addition, we are planning trivia events as well as a dance.”

There are challenges in starting a new convention from scratch, Shaw said. It’s time-consuming and it’s difficult to book celebrities with already tight schedules. However, one of the biggest challenges is generating awareness.

“Being a new event, we have to build awareness as well as trust within our community. If people know about us, they are more likely to sign up to attend, which ties directly into the financial success of the event,” she said.

Despite challenges, Shaw said she’s enjoyed planning the convention.

“It’s been a huge learning experience. There is so much more to putting on a convention than most people ever imagine. Plus, it’s like peeling an onion. So many layers. And certain things have to be done in a certain order. But it’s an amazing feeling when things start to come together, and you get that sudden spark of ‘Wow, this is actually going to happen,’” she said.

Leading up to BritCon, Shaw said they are still looking for more sponsors to help finance the event, as well as additional volunteers.

Applications are now being accepted for vendors, panels and panelists, and Artist Alley. Organizers are seeking entries for the film festival.

“We intend to be a long-running event, growing until we reach a comfortable, self-sustaining level that maintains the fun and intimacy, yet still allows us to bring new and exciting content to fans of British media and culture in the Pacific Northwest,” she said.

To learn more about BritCon, go online to https://www.britcon.org/.


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