by Bruce Johnson
As you well know, we were fortunate to have been able to celebrate the 33rd National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn last February, just before the Covid-19 pandemic changed all of our lives.
Nevertheless, here in our office and at the Omni Grove Park Inn, last spring we continued making plans for an in-person conference at the Grove Park Inn this coming February, hoping that the virus would somehow run its course and fade away in the summer, or that an existing vaccine would offer immediate immunity for us all.
Summer gave way to fall without so much as a pause in the spread of the disease. Here in North Carolina, the governor prohibited indoor events and activities for more than 25 people in an attempt to stem the tide of the deadly disease. As each week passed, I grew less convinced that we could safely hold the seminars, small group discussions, demonstrations, tours, and shows which have in recent years drawn more than 2,000 people through the doors of the historic hotel.
For the last two weeks I have been having regular conversations with the management team at the Omni Grove Park Inn, as we all struggled with the realization that our 33-year streak of continuous February gatherings at the hotel would simply be too dangerous to continue in 2021.
From the hotel’s perspective, their first move was to assure those of you who had made 2021 reservations that your deposits would be refunded without question, and they moved swiftly to do so.
Here in our office, I knew that I was not going to let this pandemic deliver a deadly blow to the Arts and Crafts revival which we have all supported and benefited from. But our alternative was not as simple as sending out a refund notice. In place of a three-day, in-person conference, Kate Nixon and I are working to assemble a month-long virtual 34th National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows. For starters, that required a totally new website with new technology that would enable and power everything from online registration to on-demand video presentations.
I had hoped that the web design team I have hired would be able to launch our new website at the same time that you are reading this week’s issue. As it turned out, the Omni Grove Park Inn needed to make their refunds sooner than our web designer could deliver a new website for us. And so, this week we are officially announcing that the 34th National Arts and Crafts Conference will be held virtually, and that our new, detailed website will be launched later this month.
Certainly, not ideal, but what, if anything, has been ideal about the past seven months?
I have always appreciated and thanked each of you for your role in the Arts and Crafts revival, and for your support of the annual National Arts and Crafts Conference. I am hoping that you will also support a virtual 34th National Arts and Crafts Conference, and will join us on February 18-20, 2022, when we plan to meet the next time at the historic Grove Park Inn.
Until next week,