Chris Campbell on thu 19 apr 07
For those who are not on the NCECA e-mail list here is the latest message .....
From the moment that the NCECA Board received the unsettling news from the
Hyatt in New Orleans that they would be unable to provide a home for our 2008
conference, we have been working together to solve the sizable problem that
their actions created.
First, I want to take this opportunity to provide our membership with an up-to-date
report on the results of our efforts since then and how the Board evaluated the
options that were presented to form the conclusion and plan being presented in
this message today.
It was just over a month ago, a day before our conference began in Louisville in March,
that the Hyatt informed us of their inability to rebuild their property in New Orleans that
was severely damaged during hurricane Katrina. This news was staggering for the
NCECA Board and staff, and especially so for the site liaisons, considering the amount
of effort that had already begun towards the preparations for the 2008 event. I also have
to mention the emotional impact it had on those individuals but to the greater arts community
of New Orleans and the region.
We were immediately forced to evaluate the New Orleans situation, as well as beginning to
look elsewhere for a site that might serve our needs in 2008.
Our initial efforts were focused on trying to keep things in place for New Orleans, especially
since the first change from Katrina was already felt through the re-location of the 2007 event
to Louisville, KY. Returning to New Orleans was a way to show our support for the city, its
artists and arts organizations. These early efforts to save our preferred location for 2008 became
increasingly difficult as soon as we began the practical matter of seeking suitable hotel space to
meet the number of rooms needed for the 2008 dates. In addition, and considering our original
plans to house the entire conference programming needs within one hotel location (Hyatt), our
programming needs now could only be met by using the New Orleans convention center. The
combination of hotel and convention locations immediately caused concern, especially when the
surveys indicated how much our membership prefers to have these entities in close proximity to
one another. The new hotel venue, Marriott, was nearly one mile away from the convention center,
making it necessary for all conference participants to either walk this distance or travel by private
bus from one site to the other. While we have dealt with this in the past, most recently in Portland
where attendees had to travel by streetcar from the hotels to the convention site, it was clear from
the feedback from Louisville this year that the convenience of the hotel to the convention center is
something highly preferred by our members and attendees.
Additionally, there were date conflicts with the hotel arrangements as the only time we could
schedule our conference around the available hotel and convention center dates would be in
mid-April instead of the desired and traditional dates of March. With the help of a recent survey
to our membership, it became obvious that the later date in April would prove difficult for many
members. As a result of all of this information, but with great disappointment, we were forced to
seek other alternatives sites that might fill the gap left as a result of the Hyatt's disclosure that they
would not be able to support our conference in 2008.
As a Board, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the organization and to our membership -
both today and for the future. When we coupled this responsibility with our desire to present
a viable location for our next conference, we knew that a decision on a new venue was paramount.
Consequently, and with the continual work of both our staff and board members collecting
information on alternative sites, along with the guidance of our advisory board as well as our
senior advisor, Joe Wedding, several potential venues were pursued. We considered a wide
range of issues that guided our selection of a suitable replacement city, some of which included
acceptable dates in March of 2008, cost, hotel space, programming and gallery facilities, along
with location, dining and other intangible aspects that help add greatly to the NCECA conference
experience. Through this detailed effort, which took several weeks to complete, we were fortunate
to discover that one location, Pittsburgh, PA, met these requirements better than any other site we
researched for the preferred time period.
So, it is with great satisfaction and pleasure that I officially announce the selection of the city of
Pittsburgh to our members, as the 2008 conference site for March 19-22, 2008.
While the decision was an arduous one, it is the product of many people working long and hard
to find resolution. The selection of Pittsburgh meets our immediate needs, but perhaps more
importantly, it also provides an opportunity for us to present the NCECA conference in a location
that will be hosting us for the first time in the 41-year history of NCECA. With the wonderful
ambiance of the three-river city of Pittsburgh, known for its rolling landscape and ethnic influences
in everything from music to traditional dance and memorable dining, we are confident Pittsburgh
will provide us with a most suitable home for our 2008 gathering.
Supporting six different colleges and universities, a modern international airport facility, a thriving
arts community that includes the world class Andy Warhol Museum and more than a dozen historical
and cultural attractions, as well as a general population of nearly 400,000 people, an environmentally
friendly Pittsburgh is eager to serve as host to NCECA members. We are all certain that the city will
work to provide us all with a most memorable conference experience. We look forward with
excitement to presenting NCECA in this new venue, and will now begin the task of putting together
a professional conference that will reflect the high standards NCECA members have come to expect.
We feel we have discovered an opportunity for NCECA to forge new relationships with a
community of dedicated artists in a new geographic location, previously unknown to us and we
welcome this new destination to head east.
Although we're looking to the future with great excitement, I also want you to know that our
original commitment to New Orleans has not diminished. In fact, we are resolved to find a heartfelt
and creative way to serve the needs of this distressed community through the presentation of
ceramic art or an equally important project.
We ask that all our members join us in embracing Pittsburgh by attending next year's conference.
I also ask that you offer your best visions, ideas and thoughts for how NCECA might best serve
New Orleans in the very near future.
I want to express my sincere thanks to all of our members who have patiently awaited this outcome,
and again, I ask that you each support the conference in 2008.
Information about the conference theme will be forthcoming and proposals for presentation in
Pittsburgh are encouraged. As a result, the posted date for proposals of May 1, 2007 is now
extended by one week (to May 8) in order to help those wishing to make presentations for Pittsburgh
Questions relating to this deadline and other related proposal presentations should be sent to our
Programs Director, Joe Molinaro at email@example.com.
I look forward to seeing you all in Pittsburgh in March of 2008!