11/8 URGENT Update on Conference
Thursday, November 8, 2018
November 8, 2018
Dear Friends and Scholars,
We are immeasurably grateful for your overwhelming support for the Program Chairs (Chase Bringardner, Christin Essin, and Kirsten Pullen) and ASTR Executive Committee (Officers Daphne Lei, Jill Stevenson, Esther Kim Lee, Patricia Herrera, EJ Westlake, and Scott Magelssen and Members Rhonda Blair, Kate Bredeson, Debra Caplan, Chrystyna Dail, James Harding, Doug Jones, Rosemary Malague, Noe Montez, Elizabeth W. Son, and Sissi Liu) as we made the principled decision to not cross a picket line in order to hold our annual conference.
The strike between Unite Here Local 30 and the Westin San Diego Gaslamp has not resolved. ASTR President Daphne Lei and VP for Conferences Jill Stevenson and Ewald Consulting’s Briana Baker have been in close contact with representatives from Local 30 and the hotel over the last few days. We were initially hopeful that the strike would be equitably resolved by 5pm today, but after seventeen hours of continuous negotiation on Tuesday and Wednesday, the sides were not able to reach an agreement and will not reconvene until Saturday. We decided this morning to cancel our contract with the Westin Hotel.
We did not make this decision easily, of course. We weighed our commitments to the scholars—especially graduate students, international travelers, contingent faculty, and the untenured—who had already spent much time and money preparing for the conference against our commitments to equitable labor practices. We considered the long-term financial impact of cancelling the hotel contract, moving to another location, or staying at the Westin. We questioned our own motivations for these decisions and did our best to put the needs of our members and the organization first.
The Program Chairs and the ASTR EC Officers are working on next steps:
- Reimbursement and refund plan for registration fees
- Locate alternate spaces for sharing scholarship
- Offer opportunities to share scholarship from the plenaries and concurrent panels
- Determine how we will honor this year's awards recipients
We were able to reserve some programming space at the UCSD (La Jolla) campus and will develop a schedule of events for Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17. At this point, we cannot say what we will be able to include in this schedule and in what format. We will announce this in the coming days; we are working as quickly as possible to coordinate these efforts and ask for your patience. We will also try to offer suggestions for alternate accommodations near the campus spaces. The Program Chairs will be in touch separately with working session coordinators, as well as plenarists and curated panel presenters.
If you have a room reserved at the Westin and no longer plan to stay there, please remember to cancel your reservation. If you do not cancel your reservation, please be advised that ASTR's reduced conference room rate will no longer apply. Please note that the Westin’s guest room cancellation policy stipulates that reservations should be cancelled three days in advance of the first night of stay in order to avoid a cancellation fee.
For those members still planning to come to San Diego, we will do our very best to provide many opportunities to share their scholarship, make new connections and establish old relationships, and celebrate the organization’s commitment to theatre and performance studies and to social justice. But because we have cancelled the contract with the Westin Gaslamp, this will be a conference without the programming we’ve come to expect (and certainly not the programming the Program Chairs envisioned). We won’t have receptions, or yoga, or AV, or a common space to socialize. We will not offer Field Conversations (and Paige McGinley and Gad Guterman had put together an especially exciting slate), or a Mentorship Breakfast. However, to honor and celebrate the original program and all the work behind it, we have posted a PDF of the full conference program on the conference website HERE. We ask—again—for your patience and flexibility as we make new plans on a very short schedule and with significant financial implications for this year and the future.
With gratitude and in solidarity,
The ASTR Executive Committee and the 2018 Program Chairs