Here I am sharing this important announcement from the American Folklore Society. I will continue to be involved in work towards the 2020 and 2022 AFS Annual Meetings, both with Tulsa ties. Those who have been involved in the running of scholarly societies will know what a financial and governance triumph this news is. Many scholarly organizations face catastrophic loss at the intersection of conference hotel contracts and COVID-19 consequences. I am so happy for AFS and thank its leaders. –Jason
AFS Rebooks Tulsa Annual Meeting for 2022 but Continues to Plan for a Smaller Fall Meeting
Like you, we at AFS are still faced with more questions than answers about how to plan for the coming year, but one thing has become clear: the current pandemic and its economic fallout will have a serious impact on our October meeting.
Because we want the opportunity to deliver fully on the plans and promises that we have already developed for our Tulsa meeting, we have taken one definite step at this time: we have renegotiated our contract with the Tulsa Hyatt to minimize our financial obligations to the hotel for this year, while rebooking to return to Tulsa October 12-15, 2022. This gives us the opportunity to continue planning several options for our Fall 2020 meeting while also planning to return to Tulsa in full in 2022.
This contract rebooking buys us more time to explore what we CAN do to convene in 2020, so our message remains the same: we are proceeding with our plans for a 2020 meeting in some form, as we investigate our options to best serve our members and attendees, perhaps including a smaller regional meeting, some virtual offerings, or a combination of both. We will continue our current work with partner organizations in Oklahoma to produce meaningful collaborative programming this year, and we hope to deepen those relationships through our return in 2022.
The AFS 2020 Local Arrangements Committee supports these difficult decisions and are thankful to the executive office and the Hyatt’s exceptional staff for finding a compromise with a larger vision for engaging folklore in Oklahoma. LAC co-chairs, Terri Jordan and Sarah Milligan see the benefit of returning to Tulsa in 2022, “This outcome allows us to continue to build flexible and innovative partnerships with both AFS members and our regional collaborators in light of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. By extending our Tulsa meeting commitment to 2022 the LAC has an unprecedented opportunity for a deeper, more prolonged period of relationship building between our Oklahoma partners and the AFS community. Not only are we beyond grateful for the time and commitment from our LAC members in preparing for the 2020 meeting, we are excited to continue developing and nurturing these exchanges in 2020 and leading up to 2022.”
AFS Executive Director Jessica A. Turner says the Hyatt’s willingness to amend the meeting contract gives AFS the flexibility it needs to serve its members. “Moving our contract to 2022 removes a financial hurdle and allows us to have the successful full meeting in Tulsa we have been planning with extraordinary Oklahoma partners. It also allows us to be creative in adapting our plans to keep us connected as a field.”
Catherine McKemie, our partner with ConferenceDirect, emphasized that “Collaboration is key during a crisis and I was honored to help all parties involved reach a successful outcome. It is during tough times that true partners rise up to help each other and we were fortunate to work with Hyatt Hotels and American Folklore Society to deliver a favorable outcome.”
AFS thanks the Hyatt Regency Tulsa for its partnership in creating a plan that works flexibly with financial and travel uncertainties during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are proud to work with the American Folklore Society in rebooking its meeting to 2022 so that their plans for a Tulsa meeting see their full potential,” said Denise Davis, Director of Events for Hyatt Corporation.
In the meantime, the Review Committee is currently at work reading proposals, keeping calm and carrying on with the annual business of reviewing the research and concerns that are shaping our field right now and for the future. Many thanks to them for laying this foundation as we look for both customary and new ways of connecting our members and supporting their important work as circumstances evolve.
We have not changed our standards for proposal review: each submission will be considered on its own merits as a contribution to the full convening of the American Folklore Society. If you submitted a proposal, you’ll hear from us in the coming weeks about the Review Committee’s decisions. Though we can’t yet commit to what kind of platform we will provide if your proposal is accepted, you can rest assured that if it isn’t acceptable to you or you can’t present for other reasons, you may defer your presentation until 2021 or withdraw with a full refund. In the meantime, if your own plans to participate significantly change, please let us know as soon as possible, so we can respond and scale our plans accordingly. We will be reaching out for your input in the coming weeks as we work out a plan that serves most members.
On behalf of the AFS Executive Board, AFS President Norma E. Cantú said, “We thank everyone who has grappled with the changing situation and found solutions to our predicament so we can honor our bylaws and hold our annual meeting as scheduled in some form or another. We send our deepest sympathy to any members who have been touched by the tragic events of the pandemic and send best wishes to everyone as we go forward.”
• We are reducing our meeting with Tulsa and will plan for a smaller in-person meeting; all are welcome should your feel safe and able to travel
• We are exploring virtual meeting options and will make some decisions about scale and format in the coming weeks
• We will return to Tulsa for our 2022 Annual Meeting
• Wait a few weeks more before making or changing your travel plans for October until our program and your own ability to participate become clearer
Count on us to communicate directly with you as soon as we have more information to share; we will email all members and registered attendees, post updates to the 2020 Annual Meeting page, the AFS Review and our social media channels as our plans take shape. As always, we are here to respond to questions or concerns.
We remain hopeful that our efforts to meet in Tulsa will be realized, perhaps through an even stronger and more intentional meeting. Woody Guthrie wrote, “The note of hope is the only note that can keep us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution. Because, largely, about all a human being is anyway is just a hoping machine.” To that end, we reached out to a few of our members to ask them to share what they are hopeful for, creating some video in the new Zoom aesthetic.
Jessica A. Turner
AFS Executive Director