Necon Is Changing Its Venue to
Salem State University in Salem, MA,
Increasing Capacity to 250 Campers
Dear Necon Campers,
Here’s the TL;DR version of what follows — The Northeastern Writers’ Conference is thrilled to announce that we are changing our venue and increasing our capacity. Beginning this summer at Necon 40 (July 16th – 19th, 2020), the convention will be held at Salem State University in Salem, MA, and can accommodate up to 250 fully registered (i.e. four-day, overnight) Campers.
Before we launch into the full story, you may want to pour yourself a cup of coffee — or, perhaps, two fingers of Maker’s Mark — and get comfy. 🙂
Shortly after Necon 39 concluded, we were informed by Roger Williams University that they were undergoing institutional changes and could not confirm the Baypoint Inn & Conference Center for our announced dates next summer. We immediately began researching other venue options, and we’ll be straight with everyone, the results were not promising. Finding a venue that “checked every box” Necon requires was daunting, and we began to fear we’d have to accept a location that, quite frankly, would have sacrificed much of what makes Necon “Necon” (i.e. the convention would have morphed into a typical “hotel con”).
Then, a too-good-to-be-true opportunity fell into our laps.
But first, a bit of background — forty years ago, Roger Williams University reached out to Bob Booth after he chaired the World Fantasy Convention in Providence. The university had just begun hosting conferences on its campus and asked to pitch themselves to Bob as a potential venue. Bob took the visit, and as he suspected they were way too small to host an event like WFC … but they were the perfect size (and cost) to launch his own small writers conference. And hence, Necon was born.
Much like Bob was approached four decades ago, the director of summer conference and hospitality services at Salem State University reached out to us and asked if we had considered holding Necon in Salem. And truthfully, the answer to that question was no! No matter how perfect it would be to hold a horror/speculative fiction convention in Salem, we never dreamed we could find a suitable venue there!
Emails led to phone calls, which led to a site visit, and we were blown away each step of the way. Not only did Salem State check every box for us, they offered upgraded facilities and accommodations and the ability to increase our capacity. Moreover, they offered us a chance to return to Necon’s roots, housing most of our Campers in four-person, two-double-bedroom suites on a college campus. (Side note: there are also a limited number of suites with single rooms, set up to accommodate as few as three and as many as six people.) Perhaps most importantly, they not only secured our dates for this summer, they offered us a multi-year, fix-priced contract that secures us the third weekend of July every year, affording the convention security and stability going forward. All told, we truly believe that Necon will not have to sacrifice or compromise anything that makes us what we are with this move; in fact, on literally every level, this is a flat-out better option for us.
We’ve put together the following pictures from our site visit to give everyone a taste of what’s in store for us at Salem State. The University, by the way, is only a mile away from Downtown Salem, featuring all of its museums, stores, restaurants, historical sites, etc. And our liaison at the University has graciously offered to hook us up with “Destination Salem” so that Necon will be properly connected with and welcomed into Salem’s rich horror community!
Salem State Campus Map
A map of Salem State’s campuses, with our relevant buildings circled. As you can see, our event space is two blocks from our dorm and cafeteria. The walk takes about 5 to 7 minutes through a residential neighborhood on a flat sidewalk (no major hills). There is parking available at both locations for Campers who have their own car and wish to drive, and the University has offered to rent us 8-seat golf carts to help shuttle Campers back and forth.
Viking Hall (Our Dorm)
Main lobby, first floor. Note two pool tables (there’s a third upstairs).
Second floor lounge / seating area with T.V. and jacks for gaming counsels.
There’s such a lounge on every floor. And yes, there are elevators!
Starbucks attached to Viking Hall.
Closes at 2:30PM and this space is ours to use as we see fit after they close.
Meeting room attached to Starbucks by retractable wall. Full AV capabilities. Seats 80-ish.
Starbucks outdoor patio seating. Will be available to us all hours.
More patio / courtyard seating (featuring Mike Myers!).
One side of the Viking Hall quad. We have assurances that all of our usual late-night Necon activities, such as talking, singing, hanging out, and everything we’ve typically done outside into the wee hours, will be permitted in these areas.
Main / front quad of Viking Hall. Salem State has a strict smoke-free campus policy, but smoking is allowed just beyond the front sidewalk, approximately 15 to 20 yards from the front door. A follow-up email regarding the University’s no smoking policy, and covering MA state laws regarding marijuana, will be sent at a later date. And FYI, the barn-shaped building across the street is a liquor store.
“Kitchen Lounge” featuring seating area, full fridge, large microwave, etc.
There’s one of these on every floor.
“Quiet Lounge” (i.e. seating area without a T.V., intended for studying).
There’s one of these on every floor, too.
Two-person bedroom (each suite typically has two of these).
The beds will be on the floor so they can be pushed together if desired.
Vanities. The toilet is in a separate room to the left and the shower is in one to the right; that keeps the toilet available while people shower.
“Kitchenette Nook” with mini-fridge and microwave. There’s one of these in every suite.
Marsh Hall (Cafeteria)
The quad between Viking Hall and Marsh Hall.
They’re about 100 yards apart (and we can hang out on this lawn, too).
The dining hall. Seats over 300. Large screen TV and lounge area with couches not pictured. This space will be available to us at all times (including evenings).
Food lines / serving area, first picture (was too big for one shot).
Food lines / serving area, second picture. Refreshments will be available at all times, and there are also vending machines in every building.
Second floor outdoor patio. This space will be available to us at all times (including evenings).
Small breakout conference room. There was another larger one of these as well, and both will be available to us.
Ellison Center (Event Space)
Front courtyard, first picture (was too big for one shot).
Front courtyard, second picture.
Main lobby / lounge area.
“Commuter Lounge,” one floor beneath main lobby. Space will be available to us at all times.
Small conference room off of the “Commuter Lounge.”
Larger meeting room off of the “Commuter Lounge.” Seats 80 to 100-ish and features full AV capabilities.
“The Underground” room (hence the sign on the wall), first picture (was too big for one shot).
“The Underground” room, second picture.
“Martin Luther King, Jr.” room, first picture (was too big for one shot).
“Martin Luther King, Jr.” room, second picture. Includes full AV capabilities.
Main Hall, first picture (was too big for one shot). Our primary programming / entertainment space. Wall on right retracts for a capacity of 250.
Main Hall, second picture (other side of retractable wall). The two flat-screens mirror the main screen, on to which we could project live speakers / panelists.
More about Salem State can be found at https://www.salemstate.edu.
We know that change can be scary and unsettling, and we recognize there are sure to be adjustments for all of us at our new venue. For example, any Campers planning to fly in for Necon should now book their flights to Logan Aiport in Boston rather than T.F. Green (side note: a follow-up email regarding travel arrangements will also be sent as a later date). For our part, we plan to spend the next ten months keeping everyone as informed as possible and (hopefully!) anticipating and addressing issues before they arise. That said, due to this venue change, we will honor any requests for a full refund (deposits included). But we’re not expecting to receive very many, because Necon at Salem State, in the city that’s very much the hub of the New England horror community, is going to be an AMAZING fit!
Thank you all so much; we hope you’re as excited as we are, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us should you have any questions.
See you this July in Salem!