Over the course of the past 28 National Arts and Crafts Conferences at the Grove Park Inn, I have sat in the back of the room next to the audio-visual team for all 196 seminar presentations.
I should be a lot smarter, but too often I was worrying about something – the speaker’s volume, the lighting level, someone out in the hallway talking loudly, the security at the show, or the next speaker running too long — rather than taking notes while some really smart people at the podium were sharing their research and personal experiences with our audience.
Over the course of those same 28 Arts and Crafts Conferences, however, I have missed about 831 opportunities to also become a smarter collector.
For, you see, I have missed all of the 831 Small Group Discussions we have held.
Every single one.
It wasn’t a case of not being there, for I was often going from meeting room to meeting room, making sure the doors were unlocked, the chairs were arranged around the tables, and each discussion leader was in the general vicinity.
And by the time I had made my rounds to nearly a dozen rooms, each of them was full of enthusiastic collectors eager to share their experiences, pass around photographs, and ask questions of each other, not to mention making life-long Arts and Crafts friends.
These informal chat rooms have become one of the most popular highlights of our three days together in February. No advance sign-up is necessary, so people just study the list printed in their Conference Catalog, mark their first choice (and a second, in case the room is full) from each day’s list, and show up just before the appointed time.
The leaders are volunteers, paid only with the thank-you’s they receive for getting the discussion started. I instruct them NOT to make this a presentation, for we already have seven seminars on the schedule, so we don’t rely on audio visual equipment or lectures.
But the volunteer leaders have asked me to drive home an important point: the discussions work best and are the most enjoyable and helpful when you bring with you (1.) a couple of photographs pertaining to the topic, and (2.) a question or story to share with the others in your group.
We will be fine-tuning the topics and the room assignments in the coming days, but you can get an advance sneak peak of this February’s Small Group Discussion topics by clicking on this link to our website, then clicking on “Small Group Discussions” in the list on the left.
Until next Monday,
“At the Grove Park Inn, the Arts and Crafts movement never ended.”
PS – The Small Group Discussions are not open to the public, for they are reserved only for those collectors who are Conference Attendees, either staying at the GPI (828-252-2711 – ask for Group Reservations) or staying elsewhere and having booked their Conference Events Pass through our office by calling (828) 628-1915. Thanks!