Like all of you, I have felt a growing frustration with the steady rise in Covid-19 cases being reported across the country. Last spring it looked like we were on a clear path to a live 35th National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn on February 18-20, but now our path has been obscured with a fog of uncertainty.
Ever optimistic, Kate and I are continuing to make plans for a live three-day Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows at the historic 1913 Grove Park Inn. But we also know that future mandates and possible restrictions ordered by the governor of North Carolina or the Buncombe County Commissioners could force us to again go virtual, just as we did last February.
Rest assured, either way there will be a 35th National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows.
Currently, Buncombe County, which includes Asheville, is under an indoor mask mandate order. This past week I was at the Grove Park Inn, where all of the staff were wearing their masks, as well as nearly all of the guests, the exceptions primarily being individuals or couples off by themselves. Other than the masks, it was business as usual for the staff and their guests.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be announcing our seven seminar topics and speakers. Our speakers will also be prepared to either deliver a live presentation for you in the Heritage Ballroom or have pre-recorded it over Power Point for our registered attendees to watch from home.
We have also been inquiring about the possibility of hosting a dual live-and-virtual conference, but unfortunately have not been encouraged by the response. As you may know, we typically have eight to ten simultaneous Small Group Discussions each day in various meeting rooms, hallways, and alcoves scattered about the sprawling Grove Park Inn.
As it turns out, broadcasting a live Small Group Discussion onto an interactive Zoom platform is not as simple as pointing a laptop at the people gathered around a conference table. Additional equipment is required pick up all the voices in the room and to amplify their sounds through a computer and send it across the country. When I asked the AV team about the possibility of holding ten discussions all at once through Zoom, they said I was asking for the impossible. Adding to the technical obstacles is the fact that if broadcast live, our conference attendees would be watching from four different time zones.
As a result of our discussions, we will be planning two conferences for you: one live and the other virtual. We will be prepared to deliver one or the other, depending on any mandates and restrictions affecting us in February.
At this point in time, we already have more than 400 optimistic attendees and exhibitors signed up for the February Arts and Crafts Conference. As has always been the practice, the Omni Grove Park Inn will issue a full refund of your deposit if requested seven days before your scheduled arrival date.
If you share my optimism that we will be able to meet safely at the Grove Park Inn next February and want to be sure of having a room, please call (800) 438-5800 and ask for group reservations to reserve the Arts and Crafts Weekend Package. Additional details and updates can always be found at our website www.Arts-CraftsConference.com or you can call us at (828) 628-1915.
Until next week,
“It’s not that optimism solves all of life’s problems; it is just that it can sometimes make the difference between coping and collapsing.” – Lucy MacDonald, author