Special Issue Newsletter - June 2020


Dear VSA Community,

First, I wanted to express to everyone my hope that you and your families are doing well during these unprecedented times. Personally, I know that I keep trying to find my footing in this new reality and find that each day seems to bring new challenges. Many in our community are finding themselves suddenly facing hardships, and I send the biggest virtual hugs out to you all. 

After careful consideration, the VSA Board of Directors has made the decision to postpone the 33rd Annual Visitor Studies Association Conference, originally scheduled for July 15-18, 2020. We are looking forward to convening in summer 2021 at the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capital District, Omaha, Nebraska.

This was not an easy decision, but one that we felt was necessary given the current travel restrictions and our inability to predict when these may be lifted, the need for conference participants to make decisions about submitting abstracts and preparing session materials, as well as the toll the widespread museum closures are taking on our industry. On a personal level, I know that many of us look forward to the conference as a time to gather, finding camaraderie amongst like-minded professionals, and it is disheartening that we won’t have that opportunity this year. I want to express sincerest gratitude to the conference committee volunteers, proposal reviewers and submitters, as well as our board members for all the work they had done preparing for the 2020 conference.

We are currently reviewing proposals to develop more expanded virtual learning offerings and anticipate announcing updates later in the spring. In the meantime, we are pleased to offer a range of ways to connect to VSA as we weather this storm:

  • Coronavirus Support Group Chats: Fridays, 2-2:30 pm ET. These free chats allow for informal discussion on a range of topics. Now open to members and non-members. Register here.
  • Coronavirus Support for Out-of-Work Evaluators: Wednesday, April 15, 4:00 pm ET.  The Professional Development Working Group is hosting a special web convening to support visitor studies professionals currently out of work due to COVID-19. Open to VSA members and non-members. Register here.
  • Visitor Studies Journal and Web Chats Archive: VSA members have complimentary access to the journal archives through Taylor & Francis as well as our past web chat recordings, including those on useful evaluation tools, culturally responsive evaluation practices, and more.

Thank you to those of you who have also already renewed your membership for 2020. The annual conference is critical to financing VSA’s operations and allows us to offer a range of benefits to our community. VSA relies on memberships, donations, and professional development income in order to operate. The support of community members like you is much appreciated, particularly during these challenging times.

If you have further questions, please contact [email protected]. Anyone who has already registered for the conference will have the opportunity to keep their registration locked in for 2021 at the current price, request a refund, or donate to VSA. As more information about future offerings becomes available, it will be posted on the VSA website, through email, and on social media.

We are looking forward to seeing you all in person at the 2021 conference and online before then!

All the best,

Elizabeth Bolander
VSA President