2020 Cancellation FAQs

As we receive refund requests and questions, we will update this page.  Here are questions we have received thus far from members:


how is the refund process going?

Since we modified our registration system and set up a refund procedure with our credit card processor at the beginning of the month, we have  processed about one-third of the more than 2000 refunds that have been requested.  Although it is a very slow, manual process, we expect to complete the majority of requests by our target date of May 31.  Thank you for your patience as we work through this arduous task. Please remember that membership fees are non-refundable.


When will I receive my refund?  What’s the hold up?

Thank you for your understanding as we process refund requests. Since the PCA is not like a retail business, our website is not set up to easily handle over 2000 refunds. It has taken two weeks to create a procedure to process these refunds and enable our system to link up with our credit card processor. Since refunds must be processed manually, we are proceeding as quickly as we are able. We have just two, very overwhelmed staff members working on this task. We are striving to get these funds to you as expeditiously as possible; when we stop to respond to individual refund inquiries, it slows the process down tremendously. Thank you to all of our members who have been extremely patient during this stressful time.


is there anything that could delay my refund?

As we begin processing requests, we are seeing many people who have submitted multiple requests. This will not speed up the process–it will actually slow it down. Please submit only ONE form; if you have submitted more than one form, your refund/deferment/donation will not be processed until after May 31.


What if I am a travel grant award winner?

As I am sure you are aware, it proved necessary to cancel our PCA Philadelphia Conference in April due to the very serious COVID-19 pandemic .

We will not be awarding these travel grants for the 2020 conference. This includes the Schoenecke, Rollins, Marsden, Calhoun-French, and Bratzel Grants. However, if you choose to defer your conference registration and submit the same presentation you were going to give this year to the 2021 conference in Boston, your awarded travel grant will follow you to the Boston PCA Conference. You may need to submit your topic again to the area chair, but you will receive priority status. 

The Fishwick Grants will be distributed as planned, since they are specifically awarded for travel to research collections and are not related to attendance at the 2020 Conference.

We thank you for your understanding, and sincerely hope you stay well. We look forward to seeing everyone in Boston in 2021.

Best wishes,  Michael Marsden, Chair, PCA Endowment Committee


When will I receive my refund?

We hope to have all refunds to attendees by the end of May. Payments made via credit card will be refunded to the original credit card used in the transaction. Make sure you provide the name on the credit card account if someone else paid for you.  If you paid by check, we will send your refund to the address you have put on your form–please make sure it is correct. 


Why did the Popular Culture Association decide to cancel the 2020 Conference?

As the Association monitored the COVID-19 situation over the last weeks, we realized that there were probably more reasons to cancel the conference than to hold it–most important, the health and safety of our members. With many countries and regions recommending social distancing, it soon became apparent that it would not be feasible to meet this year. Because we are a non-profit organization, our Board had to determine the final outcome.  Meeting  on March 12, the PCA Board unanimously voted to cancel the 2020 Conference. 


Why cancel now and not wait until closer to the date of the conference?

The coronavirus situation has developed rapidly over the last month–and more specifically, the past two weeks. While it may have been true two weeks ago that the situation would improve, our health officials are saying the opposite. Planning a conference takes an enormous effort by a team of people over a nine or ten month period; cancelling a conference and tying up all of the loose end takes as much, if not more time and deliberation. We also wanted to provide our membership with ample time to change plans, adjust schedules, cancel hotel reservations, and seek refunds or ecredits on plane tickets, train tickets, etc.


Why not hold the conference and have presenters participate virtually?

Although many think that having a virtual conference is an obvious solution, it is much more complex and costly than people realize. First, in order to have virtual participation and to have it go smoothly, we would need much greater bandwidth. This is true even if  just one person wants to use either Skype or Zoom.  The only way we could accomplish this is to keep full registration fees from those participating virtually, and even then the costs would be well above our income. We also could not guarantee that we would have sufficient equipment and people to operate that equipment. Finally, if we did not have adequate numbers of members physically attend the conference, we would breach our contract with the host hotel and lose a great deal of money.


Why not postpone the conference and hold it later in the year?

Even if we were able to secure a later date, we would have to hold the conference by June 30, the end of the fiscal budget year for a majority of universities and colleges. If people secured funding after July 1, they might have to choose between coming to the postponed Philadelphia Conference and the 2021 conference in Boston, since many institutions are now only fund one event per academic year. In either case, both conferences might still be in financial jeopardy.  Additionally, because of the uncertainty of the developments over the course of the next few months, it may still be difficult to plan a rescheduled conference in Philadelphia.


Will paid conference attendee registrations be refunded?

Paid conference attendee registrations will be refunded to all those who registered conference participants. 


If I transfer my registration fee, is my panel/paper automatically accepted for the 2021 conference?

Your panel/paper must be resubmitted for the 2021 conference; your submission may not automatically be accepted. You are, however, welcome to submit the same paper/panel from the cancelled 2020 conference. You should also let your area chair know that your paper/presentation had been accepted to the 2020 conference.


How will registration refunds affect the Popular Culture Association?

Despite the fact that PCA will work with our host hotel and vendors to mitigate expenses, the Association will suffer substantial financial losses. Therefore, we encourage those members who are financially able to consider donating their registration fee rather than requesting a refund. We greatly appreciate you considering this option at this difficult time.


Can I receive a refund of my membership fees?

Membership fees are non-refundable as they support the ongoing operations and initiatives of the Association. For new members who have recently joined, please take a moment to review the benefits of PCA membership.


Will attendees or exhibitors be refunded for airline tickets?

Unfortunately, PCA is unable to refund attendees and exhibitors for any airline tickets purchased. Please contact your airline as soon as possible to inquire about refunds/cancellations.


i want to rebook my airline ticket. What are the dates and location of the 2021 conference?

The PCA 2021 Annual Meeting is scheduled for March 31-April 3, 2021 at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel in Boston.


Do I need to cancel my hotel reservations?

If you made your room reservations through Passkey (i.e. the link on our website) or by phone, you need to cancel your reservation as soon as possible–if you forget or wait too long, you may be charged for your first evening’s stay.  If you are on the VIP or staff list, I have already cancelled your reservations.


how is the PCA staff coping with and responding to the cancellation of the conference?

Our staff is small (one part-time executive assistant, one part-time graduate assistant, and a full-time executive director), which means it will take some time to work through the logistics, finances, communications, and other details involved in a large annual event in the midst of a global pandemic.  We appreciate your kindness, patience, and understanding.


In order to provide you with the most complete and comprehensive info, we researched multiple conference sites before we created our own cancellation and refund procedures. Although we drew material from several sources, we wanted to give credit to the Society for Cinema and Media Studies; their society website is definitely a cut above.  We thank them for their assistance in the development of our refund/deferment/donation policies.