17 March 2020
Dear SAA colleagues:
Thank you for your patience as we navigate this very difficult time. As you know from Karen Raber’s previous message, the SAA has worked diligently to respond to rapidly changing circumstances. At all times, Karen, the staff, and the Trustees have kept two primary goals at front of mind: safeguarding the health of our members and our communities by helping to slow the spread of COVID-19, and ensuring the long-term vitality of our intellectual community and organization.
On Saturday, March 14, the Board of Trustees met and after careful deliberation voted unanimously to cancel our annual meeting in Denver, CO April 15-18, 2020. We made this decision in accordance with national public health guidelines and informed by federal and Colorado government actions.
We do not take this decision lightly. A tremendous amount of work has already gone into organizing the meeting, including the multiple years’ worth of effort by our 2020 Program Committee, led by Gina Bloom and our Digital Exhibits Committee, led by Geoff Way. We want to express our deepest gratitude to the committee members, Liza Blake, Dennis Britton, Jonathan Burton, Laura A. Estill, Timothy Francisco, Susan Frye, Wendy Beth Hyman, Rory Vincent Loughnane, Shawn Moore, Kathryn Vomero Santos, and Whitney Sperrazza.
What follows below my signature outlines next steps for the SAA and our members, with respect to different aspects of our usual work at the conference. (Below you will also find details on cancellation and other logistical matters.)
Thanks to the dedication of many seminar and workshop leaders, most seminars and some workshops have a path forward to complete their work remotely this year. Panels may be deferred to 2021. 2020 prizes and digital initiatives will be announced and shared on the SAA website. The Trustees will convene virtually to conduct our usual annual business, including approval of the 2021 program.
On behalf of the Trustees, I want to share our pride in how much of our 2020 work can continue at the SAA – thanks to our creative, committed, and resourceful membership. Let me also share our sadness for what will be missed this year. The SAA commits to find ways to celebrate and recognize this work, as it deserves, when we next meet. Finally, we are aware that all of us in the far-flung communities we belong to have been, and will be, seriously affected by this pandemic. Our thoughts are with you, as you care for your own health and that of others.
A note of thanks. Over the past month I have been in a unique position to witness the dedication and resourcefulness of our Executive Director, Karen Raber, and her staff. They have been laser-focused on the two goals (above) that we set for the SAA. They have taken every action possible to protect the well-being of the membership and the organization, under enormously difficult circumstances. The SAA will thrive in the future in large part because of their leadership. I know they appreciate the many messages of support they have received and the general good will SAA members have maintained throughout.
We are a uniquely cooperative and collaborative organization, fortunate to have so many committed and engaged members. I feel great confidence in the paths forward that we will navigate together.
2020 President, Shakespeare Association of America
Cancellation and Registration Fees
The hotel will cancel all reservations in our room block.
Many of you have already cancelled your registrations. We ask that those who have not yet done so, use this form to cancel, rather than contact our office directly.
Certificate for Cancellation:
Should you require certification that the Denver conference has been cancelled, you can download a pdf document to that effect here.
We ask your continued patience as the SAA staff works to process refunds. If you choose to donate your registration fee to the SAA to help us defray unrecoverable expenses associated with the conference, we will gratefully provide a receipt for tax purposes. We ask that you submit your cancellation/refund form no later than May 15, 2020.
Seminars and Workshops:
Knowing how important this convening is to our members – and recognizing that much work has already been accomplished in the SAA’s distributed mode, that we wish to acknowledge – the Trustees are empowering seminar leaders to complete their work with their seminars. Workshop leaders who feel they can do so are invited to complete their work as well. As detailed below, the SAA will certify completion of this work so that it can be listed on vitae and counted as scholarly output consistent with our usual academic protocols.
Seminar and workshop leaders may continue to complete work with their participants. As we requested in our March 12 email, if you have not already done so please inform the SAA office (firstname.lastname@example.org) whether you will complete your seminar by alternative means. For those who confirm we will share a briefing on recommended practices. Abstracts and notifications should be submitted by April 1.
The SAA will provide acknowledgement and evidence of credit for that work by 1) Listing abstracts as usual on our website, 2) Producing a limited online and printed bulletin that reflects the seminar topics and participants. Our office will communicate with you further about both items above and with a set of guidelines for best practices in organizing remote seminars.
Panels will be moved, with organizers’ and speakers’ approval, to the 2021 program.
Panel organizers: please communicate with your speakers to determine whether the panel will be able to constitute itself for 2021. Our staff will contact you for the results of your discussions.
NextGenPlen presenters will be contacted regarding the option for publication of their essays.
Links to this year’s digital exhibits are already available on our web site here. We will be in touch with regard to the option of including this year’s exhibits in next year’s conference.
Recipients of this year’s prizes will be featured on our web page and in our printed bulletin.
12 March 2020
Dear fellow SAAers:
I write with an update on the 2020 conference in Denver, CO next month. For all of us, this is a very uncertain time, as different institutions and regions respond to rapidly changing information about the spread of COVID-19. Our primary aim is to support our members to safeguard their health. Our second aim is to sustain the SAA as an intellectual community and organization into the future.
We recognize the ethical imperative to join the national effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. We are also aware that a number of institutions are issuing travel restrictions and we anticipate more. Through the end of this month, any member may elect to withdraw from the conference with no penalty; we have extended the full-reimbursement deadline – see details below. We hope you may elect to explore alternatives with us.
The SAA faces dire financial consequences if we cancel without an external injunction to free us from the terms of the hotel contract. Every day increases the likelihood that there will be government action in Colorado and Denver that would give us legal standing to be released from our commitment. Meanwhile, knowing how important this conference is to our members, we are also exploring the possibility of alternate formats for our events. So we ask for your patience and understanding as we assess the feasibility of the conference.
We will have a firm decision by the end of the month at the latest.
Knowing how critical a presentation at the SAA is to many careers, we also ask you to help us assess whether some version of the conference could occur in a hybrid or online mode. To enable this, the Trustees have suspended the SAA’s usual restrictions on remote participation. The SAA does not have the platform capacity to manage such options centrally (unless we are in Denver). Yet our strength as an organization is that we are distributed already: much of the intellectual work is led by members.
With that in mind, we are asking the following questions of those leading and contributing to the program, on a short timeline.
We ask seminar and workshop leaders to decide whether you would run the seminar or workshop online via zoom, skype, or a similar platform. Please confirm with our Project Coordinator, Ginny McCarley, by March 20 at email@example.com.
We ask all seminar and workshop participants to continue to work together, on the premise that you will be holding the seminar or workshop in some form in April.
For panel presenters, SAA staff is quickly researching our options at the hotel and elsewhere for remotely hosting keynotes and other events. Please confirm to Ginny at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 20 that you would be willing to participate in that format so that those participating virtually might listen.
Note that the Trustees will hold their annual meeting either in person in Denver, in a hybrid format, or virtually.
Registration Fees and Hotel Reservations
Whether members participate at the hotel or remotely, we anticipate no change in conference fees. Whatever the path forward for the conference, the SAA has already incurred unrecoverable expenses and will incur significant additional ones to change format.
You may cancel your hotel reservation at any time up to 72 hours prior to your arrival date with no penalty; please make sure to contact the Denver Hyatt Regency at 1-303-436-1234 to cancel.
For those choosing to cancel their participation in the conference, we are extending the deadline for doing so without penalty to April 1. Please see the SAA website for further details.
We know how difficult a time this is for all. The staff at the SAA are constantly working to address the best interests of our members and of the organization as a whole. We rely on your goodwill and cooperation at all times, but never so much as now.
We will be in touch with you as issues arise or conditions change, and by April 1 at the latest. Meanwhile, stay well.
5 March 2020
The SAA is monitoring the COVID-19 situation on a daily, even hourly basis. At present, we will proceed with our April conference as planned: the CDC currently does not list domestic travel as a concern, and recommends only common-sense precautions for all individuals and groups. We realize, however, that the situation is rapidly changing, and so we are preparing contingency plans should they become necessary. We are also working with our host hotel, the Denver Hyatt Regency, to address options and precautions regarding conference events and spaces.
Your safety is our top priority. We will continue to update our members on all information we receive, and any changes affecting our conference. In the meantime, we recommend the following:
If you have not yet booked travel, consider choosing a refundable ticket. If you will be arriving from abroad, make sure you apply for authorization (ESTA) in advance of your trip to avoid obstacles at departure. See here for more information and an application link.
As far as possible, avoid close contact with people who are ill. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
If you become ill, stay home. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, bend your arm and cough or sneeze into it. Do not use your hands. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
You can stay informed by visiting the following sites:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Denver Department of Public Health
Colorado Department of Health’s COVID-19 update and Information page
Watch for further communication from the SAA. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at email@example.com.