We start this new year with far more uncertainty than any of us had anticipated six months ago. The Covid virus has not yet subsided and may, in fact, remain with us for many years to come. Our uncertainty has been fueled by a stream of conflicting reports secreted hourly by the news media, medical personnel, and opportunistic politicians, too often with their opinions, statistics, and predictions influenced by their own personal agenda.
What has become certain, however, is that vaccines are the most effective tool we have to ward off the virus. It is an undisputed fact that the vast majority of Covid-hospitalized individuals have arrived unvaccinated. It has become apparent that if we take the best available precautions – get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask in public, and practice social distancing – we can more safely return to our near-normal lives.
For those reasons, our plans will remain in place for an in-person 35th National Arts and Crafts Conference at the historic Omni Grove Park Inn — unless we are told by either the hotel’s management or our county’s board of commissioners that it would be unsafe for us to meet. Buncombe County is currently under an indoor mask mandate, which we will abide by at our conference events.
Our conference plans will include a number of new safety precautions. Kate Nixon and I will be installing protective plexiglass panels at both the Conference Registration Desk and the Show Ticket Booth. We will have masks and hand sanitizers at both of those locations, as well as at the entrance to the Antiques Show and the Contemporary Craftsfirms Show, and will encourage people standing in line to maintain a safe distance from others.
In the Heritage Ballroom where we hold our seminars, we will be installing a plexiglass shield atop the podium. We will also remove the chairs normally placed directly in front of the podium, so that each of our seminar speakers can safely remove their masks while addressing you. We will also be rearranging the audience’s chairs, adding more aisles to enable you to easily select a seat which will make you feel the most comfortable.
We will continue to offer Small Group Discussions each day of the conference, but have eliminated the smaller meeting rooms and will be spacing the chairs further apart. Masks will be required and will be available, along with hand sanitizers.
We will not require proof of vaccination at the conference, but I urge anyone planning to attend to first protect yourself against any possible exposure to the Covid virus.
By all means, if you are not comfortable attending the conference or shows, or if you have any Covid symptoms, please, stay home. As will be further explained in next week’s edition, we will be making the seminars available online through the National Arts and Crafts Conference website, although we will not be able to broadcast the daily Small Group Discussions, tours, or demonstrations. We did explore the possibility of simultaneously holding both an online and a live selling show each day of the conference, but determined it would be impossible for our exhibitors to be holding simultaneous conversations with collectors on the phone while also conversing with collectors in their booths.
Today, the conference is still more than six weeks away, so, please, make it a point to read our updates here and at www.Arts-CraftsConference.com each week.
As I have often said and will say again, “Together – either virtually or in person — we will grow stronger.”
Until next week,
“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” – Timber Hawkeye, author