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Background Checks Not Mandatory for Anime Expo, Except for Its Employees, Volunteers

posted on 2016-05-20 20:30 EDT
Checks are strongly encouraged for Artist Alley, press, guests, performers, vendors

The Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), the California-based non-profit organization behind Anime Expo, announced on Friday that the criminal background check requirement it introduced as part of its Youth Protection Program are now only mandatory for its own employees and volunteers. Background checks are optional but strongly encouraged for Artist Alley participants, exhibitors, press, Guests of Honor, performers and vendors.

SPJA is partnering with the Nonprofit Risk Management Center to launch the Youth Protection Program to protect young attendees at Anime Expo. The Nonprofit Risk Management Center began streaming an introduction video for the program on Tuesday. The organization also began streaming a video on April 29 that explains the responsibilities of being a partner to the Youth Protection Program.

SPJA noted the other elements of the program that will remain in place:

We are creating SafeSpace kiosks and other means for youth to report and receive immediate help. Significantly increased private security and LA Police officers will be present onsite. To protect minors from exposure to adult content, spatial separation and ID checks will be enforced at AX. Exhibitors will be required to keep adult materials behind closed pipe and drape, and to conduct ID checks at entrances to adult areas. Similarly, adult programming will be physically separated from other programming spaces and IDs will be required for access.

The policy originally required all employees, volunteers, panelists, performers, guests, members of a guest's or performer's entourage, and Artist Alley participants to consent to a background check, as well as completing certain online youth protection training courses. Exhibitors, press, and vendors were also required to affirm that all representatives complete a background check. Some exhibitors had already signed to agree with this previous policy and submitted information to comply.

Individuals who refuse to comply with SPJA policies, provide inaccurate information, or who are disqualified based on SPJA's disqualifying criteria would not have been allowed to participate in that year's activities. They would have also faced possible disqualification from working with SPJA in the future.

Anime Expo will celebrate its 25th anniversary at its convention this year from July 1-4. Previously announced guests include Vampire Hunter D and Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano, Your Lie in April manga creator Naoshi Arakawa, singer Michi, voice actress Chika Anzai, Love Live! Sunshine!! Aqours idol group members Anju Inami, Rikako Aida, Nanaka Suwa, Arisa Komiya, Kanako Takatsuki, and Ai Furihata, One-Punch Man anime director Shingo Natsume, voice actor Makoto Furukawa, and musical performances by Eir Aoi, JAM Project, Luna Haruna, Minami, Sphere, T.M. Revolution, Yoko Ishida, DJ Kazu, FLOW, and OLDCODEX.

Last year's Anime Expo set a new attendance record with 90,500 unique attendees, up 12% from 2014.


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