After a strong five-year run, there will be no Playground Conference in 2016 in Toronto, founder and executive producer Samantha Fraser announced during her closing remarks at this year’s event in November.
Fraser says the 2015 sex and relationship conference was the most successful edition to date, with over 300 attendees. Playground had also expanded to include an additional keynote speaker, a prom-style dance and a VIP dinner.
“There’s a few reasons why I want to take a break,” Fraser says, citing fatigue and increased rent at the conference’s most recent venue at the Carlton Street Holiday Inn
“I do most of the work myself, and that’s a lot to do. I’m also an events planner in my regular life as well, so I get a little tired of events,” she says.
Instead of a conference in 2016, Fraser says she will organize a series of quarterly presentations, the first of which will take place in the spring.
The new format will be more affordable for Fraser, and easier for her to organize, but she says many people will miss the conference. “[It’s] a place where people can come together for an entire weekend — it’s really immersive. This won’t be like that . . . and that’s a downside,” she says.
“[But] the other solution was to stop altogether.”
In addition to inviting locals to speak, she plans to include some of the many international experts who visit the city each year in order to run workshops at sex stores. And in keeping with the tone of Playground Conference, she wants each of the events in the series to have broad appeal.
Fraser hopes that Playground could return as a conference in 2017.