Joe's doing his introduction. Turns out he has a sense of humor. His opening comment included the memorable quote "The theme this year is 'plenty of elbow room,'" a nod to the economy's impact on attendance.
From what I hear, however, the WritersUA conference is doing better than other, similar, events (cough, STC). The year-over-year drop here is less than 40%, from last year's 500 to this year's just over 300. While it's never good to see either an economy like this or drops in attendance at events such as this one, the amount of the drop speaks volumes about the value that this event provides.