posted by CAA — Jul 16, 2020
Dear CAA Members,
As you will hear Meme Omogbai, CAA executive director, say time and time again, “Mission first. People always.” So we start this letter with the wish that you are safe, healthy, and finding some time for self-care this summer.
We are writing to share where we are in planning the 109th CAA Annual Conference. We had hoped to celebrate the vast scholarship and practice of CAA members at a fully in-person conference in New York this February 10–13, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the months ahead—as well as increasing economic pressures on institutions and individuals, leading to diminished funds for professional development and travel—have caused us to rethink our plans.
We are now moving to a conference format that will include session content online. There are many factors in determining the costs and benefits to going online; these are currently being worked on by CAA staff and will continue to be addressed as we move forward. But making this decision now allows staff and the Annual Conference Committee time to plan for an iteration of the conference that will ensure the core benefits of the event are maintained: opportunities to share new research, listen to esteemed artists, designers, and scholars, and connect with peers. We are also looking at ways to present the in-person activities, dependent upon the state of the pandemic in early 2021. Thank you for your patience and flexibility over the next couple of months as the planning continues. We are creating a list to address your frequently asked questions; please email questions to email@example.com or to us personally.
Our decision was informed by a robust response (almost 1,200 replies!) to a survey sent to members in May regarding their ideas about CAA hosting an online conference. Exceptionally useful feedback was provided in terms of what types of activities would be appealing to attend online, the value of in-person gatherings, and what price points seem reasonable. We are building on what you shared with us.
The Annual Conference Committee is currently reviewing the 800-plus proposal submissions and is on schedule to select those that will be included in the conference program. Our committees and staff are working hard to create a diverse and inclusive program and one that is broadly accessible.
While this time is filled with uncharted unknowns and anxieties, this is also an opportunity for us to build the organization that we want CAA to be. If you have the ability to give, we ask for your generosity. If you are able to give financially, wonderful—we need that help. Donations are not the only way to participate in our organization, however. We want your energy and your ideas. If you have connections and resources to share, we welcome them. If you know people who could benefit from our community, please spread the word. We are an organization of members. Join us.
CAA is an incredible coalition of individuals and institutions. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that virtual platforms can allow us to communicate broadly and across borders. Difficult conversations can take place and together we can move forward and create an organization that advocates, shares, and brings others along with us.