I have to admit, im finding it challenging to write this update. There are so many moving parts and so many people doing so many things to try and help. It is challenging to track everything and connect everyone. But I will use this post to tell you what i DO know and hope that all of you reading it will help NCECA to connect people together for the overall benefit of the organization and the conference.
• First and foremost, the NCECA board will be meeting Tuesday evening to discuss all of what is below and in past updates as well as other things that have come up or will come up between now and then. The speed at which information is coming out and the state of the country is changing is unprecedented. We are all doing our best. I would ask of anyone reading this or previous posts, to please help us by being a source of accurate information whenever possible. Share what you know with your friends, spread the word and keep the (positive) communication going. Think of yourself as one branch of a traditional phone tree. It really helps.
• Jill Oberman (NCECA Secretary), Julia Galloway (Director at Large) and myself have spent the weekend going through all of the parts of the annual conference to make sure we don’t miss something that needs to be addressed. We have also been continually looking at the volunteer signup lists and starting to look at taskforce make up as well as the responsibilities/guideline/instructions to the task force and timeline of completion. I would like to remind you all that things take time, especially if we want to do them well.
• The three of us created a dense and fairly comprehensive document detailing all of this, including nitty gritty details of questions such as will there be a cost for accessing this, or if not, how do we pay for it? what resources are needed, how much time will it take, how many people should work on each task, can we forge some strategic partnerships to facilitate putting content online, and of course, the really tricky questions of how much content is posted, how much is pushed forward, and how much is just lost. 🙁
• we thought of some other categories that might need task forces created, so we may be asking people that signed up for one task force if they would be interested in helping out in a diffferent (but similar/related) one. For instance, a past emerging artist submitted the form and selected exhibitions online, but we also need to figure out how to support this year’s emerging artists in a meaningful way online…that might be a good fit.
• I want you ALL to know that we are very specifically looking at each and every person that raised their hand and offered help and also looking at what each task force NEEDS. While i haven’t been able to email/call everyone who has signed up to help (its over 50 people now and counting), i have been looking at every form as it comes in. THANK YOU.
• Let me say that again. THANK YOU. I would like to quote Julia quoting Apollo 13. “This could be our finest hour” So many people coming together in the face of this unprecedented challenge….and it is together that we will come through it.
• The big document that I referenced 3 bullet points up (or whatever, i’ve lost track) will be shared with the full NCECA board later today in preparation for their meeting on Tuesday evening. I can’t begin to tell you what a huge task they are facing just in figuring out how to proceed and then putting all of that in action. Please continue to be patient and trust the NCECA board and leadership. Open and multi-directional communication happens in both directions, but remember we have something like 7000 members/participants and there are only about 25 board and staff. It’s very easy for them to get flooded with emails and they may not be able to respond as quickly as “normal”.
• I also want to add a note about some less obvious or even invisible but critical concerns facing the organization. While all of us are talking about how to move forward with an online conference, the staff is still negotiating the details of the actual cancelation process including contract clauses, fees, and so much more that most of us don’t even consider. Remember that their time has to be spent on that as well. One little detail that i have heard casually mentioned quite a bit is the conference insurance policy. True, it exists. But there’s a very real possibility that it will not cover cancelation due to infectious diseases, which means NCECA may be monetarily responsible for a lot of expenses. Similarly, the “million dollar endowment” is not wholly accurate. NCECA has, indeed, tried to be extremely responsible and safeguard its sustainability as an organization. In the long term, the organization will likely be fine. Cash flow right now is a huge concern. For obvious reasons, investments really should not be liquidated in order to pay bills, meet payroll and other overhead expenses, and so on. Keep this, too, in mind as we start talking about conference online, the cost to make that happen and what you expect to pay for access.
• My promised four days comes to a close today. Remember, that i’m just an NCECA member like most of you reading this. (I’m just a sort-of bossy one who likes to jump in with both feet and organize/manage things.) I put my faith into the NCECA board to determine the plan moving forward and communicate to me (and the rest of us) where and how i can help most. Thanks to all of you for letting me talk to you and listen to you over the last few days. 🙂