Longleaf Writers Conference Contingency Plans for May 10-17, 2021

Dear friends, supporters, scholars, fellows, faculty, and everyone who has made Longleaf such a success over the past seven years. Covid and this new way of living has made things difficult for everyone over the last year and likely the next, of course, but we want to make one thing clear: Matt and Jonathon and I will not let LWC fade away. We will be here this year in whatever form fate allows us, and we will be here for all of you for the future.

That said, we must have contingency plans in place and we want this document to lay out our plans clearly and transparently. We are currently working with three possible conference arrangements based on what we know and/or expect at this point.  Obviously, this is a developing situation but we plan to make our decisions by the dates associated with the options below. If things do deteriorate we believe it will be in descending order, so notice that our first decision about a ‘full’ conference will be our earliest decision to make. We are working under the following assumption: Goldman Sachs forecasts that, “about one quarter of Americans will have received their first shot by April 1, half by June 1 and three quarters by mid-autumn.”

Option 1 (March 15th):  

IF YOU HAVE PAID FOR 2021/DID PAY FOR 2020, PLEASE LET US KNOW ABOUT ANY ISSUES AND CONTACT US ASAP ABOUT HOUSING NEEDS. Now is the time to reach out to us so we can help you all prepare for May.

If things turn around dramatically and there seems to be a reasonable, collective agreement that we are past the worst part of the virus and it looks like vaccinations are moving quickly and efficiently, we plan to hold the conference much like we have in the past, but at a reduced size.  We will essentially host fewer workshops and generally shrink the size and nature of the conference accordingly in order to facilitate more distancing, etc..  If at a later date we feel the workshops can be expanded as we respond to the changing nature of the pandemic we will bring in contingent faculty and open up more spots. 

If you have paid for housing (see above, please reach out if you haven’t), the conference will function as before. Otherwise, WE WILL NOT BE OFFERING THE HOUSING OPTION. All other attendees should plan to find your own house through Airbnb, VRBO, or other methods. 

Enrollment Options (see website):

Full Registration: $720 (2021 is reduced 20%)

All-Access (no workshop): $399

‘Seminars Only’ Pass: $229

Option 2 (April 20th):   

If things are progressing but vaccinations are still not yet widely available to the general population, we will shrink our workshops, move them completely outside, reducing the number of enrollees and faculty and providing some seminars on ZOOM. This version of the conference might look a little like it did in 2015 when we were still growing, but with serious measures for social distancing and keeping safe in outside spaces.

Again, we will not be able to provide housing as we will not potentially put someone in an unsafe situation.  Reach out and talk to us about how we can help.  This goes for faculty and fellows and scholars; we will compensate to a reasonable extent, but you should plan to house yourself alone or in groups of your own devising.

Conference Registration: TBA

Option 3 (in the case that it is too dangerous to hold our traditional conference, this will be our default offering):  

If the situation is still uncertain, or only slightly improved, with much of the population still unvaccinated, the danger will be too great for us to hold a normal conference and we will move to a fully virtual conference or perhaps a series of “events” during the weekend of the conference, with outdoor, socially distanced readings for local folks but no workshops, housing, or any other activities.  We will operate on a “pay what you can” model, essentially asking our local friends to donate what they feel is appropriate.  Our focus will be on preparing for 2022.  We are reasonably optimistic that this won’t happen.  

Conference: TBA

We will reach out and keep you informed of any changes, and the cost of attending the conference will of course change according to which option we go with.  We will always endeavor to price the conference accordingly. 

This document will be available on our website and we will update the website as we go. In the meantime, PLEASE do all you can to support us. We have not come out of this year unscathed and the loss of our 2020 event was financially catastrophic. I don’t think it is any secret that we put this conference on ‘out of pocket,’ depending almost solely on the grants we have secured, donations, volunteer work (including our own), with all of the proceeds going back into the conference each year to keep us (barely) afloat.  

The reason we mention this: we need help from everyone! We would love to see donations and enrollments to ensure we are in the black for 2021.  Please let your students, friends, even yourself , know about our financial aid for BIPOC and Veterans, which are still live this year. 

In the meantime: we love and miss you all, and are lucky to be at the helm of this thing we have built and we owe it ALL to you.  Be well, in spirit, mind, body, and art.


Seth, Matt & Jonathan