Anime Expo 2011
SPJA Board of Directors Panel

by Gia Manry, Jul 4th 2011

The panelists for Anime Expo parent company the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation's board of directors panel were:

- Marc Perez - Chairman/CEO
- Paul Wilson - Board Director
- Chris Hemaratanatorn - Board Director
- Hank Wong - Vice-Chair
- Cecilia Amo - Secretary
- Chris Zoleta - Treasurer
- Takayuki "Taka" Karahashi - Self-professed "newbie" Board Director
- Brooke Oliver - Outside General Counsel since 2000

Marc Perez opened the panel by introducing the convention's 20th Anniversary: Year of the Fan celebration, and noted that three of the directors— Taka and two others - are in their 20th year of staffing the convention, as well as Programming Operations Manager John Young (who is not on the board). Some jokes were made about whether it was truly Taka's 20th year since he was not official staff last year (for which he jokingly thanked former CEO Michael Lattanzio). The panelists then went through who they are and what they do for the convention.

The panel was then opened up for questions from the audience, although Perez noted that although anyone can ask a question, there are questions that the board members cannot legally answer or do not know the answers to, although for the latter they can try to get answers.

An Anime Expo staffer for shuttle services asked whether the convention broke 50,000 attendees this year, but Perez said the number will not be revealed until closing ceremonies. He also asked whether Anime Expo will ever use the Staples Center for a guest, but Perez said that they would have to get a guest whose audience was big enough to justify that. The Staples Center holds considerably more people than the Nokia Theater (18,118 versus approximately 7,200), and they have never used the Nokia Theater at full capacity.

Since there were no more questions from the audience, Taka Karahashi— who is also a well-known translator throughout various anime conventions —asked whether they could disclose the length of their contract with the Los Angeles Convention Center, since some attendees and staff have requested a return to Anaheim. After the panelists consulted about what they were allowed to say publicly, Perez stated that Anime Expo is contracted to the LACC through 2012, and that they are currently in talks with the city and with several other, unspecified cities for a possible move to another space.

There is an expansion proposal to build a stadium attached to the LACC; however, the panel is not yet sure whether it will affect Anime Expo because the plans are not yet concrete, and the convention may not even be at the LACC in 2016, when the construction is tentatively planned for.

Before the panel ended, the SPJA's open counsel Brooke Oliver praised Marc Perez's running of Anime Expo for 2011, and noted that her own services were needed considerably less than previous years. Perez accepted the applause and promised to pass it on to other staffers and volunteers, describing himself as a "small piece of the pie." He also stated that every year is a learning experience and that everyone on the board is very supportive of everyone else, for which he applauded them back.

Perez also applauded the absent Marisa Price, a long-time Anime Expo staffer and new board member.

An audience member asked Perez what his favorite anime series are, and the panelists joked about a motion against speaking on the matter before Perez told a joke, but still did not answer. The panel ended with a batch of convention staffers from both Anime Expo and Otakon, along with other industry members, pelting Perez with Nerf darts.


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