November 7, 2023

News for Otakon 2023:

Interview with Otakorp President and Otakon Chairman Brian Cutler

by Doug Wilder

Interview with Otakorp President and Otakon Chairman Brian Cutler

The following interview with Brian Cutler, President of Otakorp and Chairman of Otakon was conducted at Otakon 2023 by Doug Wilder of our AnimeCons TV podcast. This was originally planned to be a podcast episode, but had to be transcribed due to poor audio quality.

Doug Wilder: Alright, we're here at Otakon with Brian Cutler, the President of Otakon for this year. So, I've been going to Otakon for quite some time. One of the things I kind of wanted to start with is, first off, I wanted to say congratulations because I think you guys really fixed a lot of the lines that a lot of people kind of complained about for last year. This year, especially, the convention really hit its stride for using the space in the convention center. How do you feel about that? Is there any special challenges or anything that you guys looked at?

Brian Cutler: Sure. So, thank you for that feedback because a large amount of work that went into planning for this year was trying to figure out how best to better utilize the space to spread our membership throughout the buildings better. Because we had a lot of feedback last year about the lining situations. And our opening the back of L Street in the south building as well as enabling a better line situation in the Marriott really did alleviate the concerns. I think that there's still some room for improvement in a couple areas, but overall we're extremely pleased with the turnout of the new ingress plans. Again, it's a huge help. The funniest thing I heard all weekend was someone was in line for ten minutes waiting for a drink and they said, "This is the worst line I've been in all weekend!"

Doug: That's really good to hear! One of the big pieces for the convention this year was you had Big West and their presence and I heard a lot of staffers put a lot of effort into making that happen. Can you speak to that?

Brian: Yeah, so that was a huge collaborative effort. We started that back in October. We had some meetings with a few of the representatives from Big West and that's been nearly constant, touch base with them every week, every few days. We've been in contact with them just to make sure things happened without a hitch and the involvement of the guests that we managed to get from the Macross series also made this extremely special.

Doug: So moving forward at Otakon, what do you see as some future challenges or things that maybe you're excited to look forward to for the convention?

Brian: So right now we're evaluating, as I always do, I evaluate the space usage. So, we're looking at what's popular as far as what's being attended, what's not being attended, right-sizing rooms. I think I finally got a few of the rooms to the right sizes. The locations are getting better. We added the featured event space down in the Marquis which turned out to be extremely, extremely well received and well executed so I'm looking at that. And as we continue to choose which guests we invite, we're looking at trends as far as musical guests and opportunities to get things like mangaka and that sort of guest to come next year.

Doug: To play onto the opposite of that, because Otakon's been around for a good long time, what are some of the things that maybe you've seen in the past that you'd like to try and bring back like maybe a guest or style of event or things like that?

Brian: As far as moving next year, I think we're looking at bringing back things like Thursday events. That's something that we've really been exploring over the past few years because it was so well received in Baltimore.

Doug: A matsuri.

Brian: A matsuri, yes, exactly. Some sort of street festival or content in the building if we can swing it even if it's limited. But it's something that we're exploring especially to celebrate our 30th anniversary, that's something that we can perform too.

Doug: That's going to be amazing!

Brian: Yes!

Doug: That's makes me feel old... [laughter] Well, is there anything else noteworthy that you want to want to mention about the convention this year or want to shout out or anything?

Brian: Sure! Last year we had an explosion in attendance. I would say that we are continuing the upward trend and we have definitely surpassed our attendance mark from last year.

Doug: That's great to hear.

Brian: Yeah, so we are still growing and also the convention center still has room to grow with us which I think is really important. Once we work out a few more of our logistical issues, and it may be just changing the start times of some things just to ease congestion where we can, I think next year's really going to be extremely special and I hope that everyone can feel that and we can continue the success of Otakon.

Doug: Great! Well, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

Brian: Thank you.